Kasia Boddy and Bonnie Lander Johnson receive University funding to explore the history of Cambridge’s involvement in saffron production and consumption

Image credit: a woman picks crocus flowers. Taqwīm as‑Siḥḥa (Maintenance of Health), an eleventh-century Arab medical treatise that was translated into Latin as Tacuinum Sanitatis in the thirteenth-century. Cod. Ser. n. 2644, fol. 40v. Österreichische Nationalbibliothek – Austrian National Library. Public Domain

Kasia Boddy and Bonnie Lander Johnson have received a grant from the University’s Research & Collections Programme for funding within the Materiality Research Growth Network to explore ‘Cambridge Saffron’. The project is to examine the history of Cambridge’s involvement in saffron production and consumption, both locally and globally. Working with colleagues in the UL, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Botanic Garden herbarium, and a range of college libraries and archives, Kasia and Bonnie will look for evidence of saffron as a crop, a culinary or medicinal ingredient and a dye in the Cambridge collections. We will begin by considering saffron as it was once grown and consumed in Cambridge and its immediately surrounding areas, then expand out to consider the place of saffron in the global economy and in aesthetic, religious and political representation.

The project will culminate in a workshop hosted by CRASSH in June 2022 and an online exhibition, hosted by the UL.

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