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Catherine Brooks

Areas of Speciality
  • Ph.D. Nautical Archaeology
  • Anthropology 102A
Shelley Wachsmann
First Year In the Program


I am a French-Canadian a long way from home in sunny (and so very hot) Texas. I received my BA in Anthropology and Asian History in 2017 from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. The intersection of people and the water – oceans, seas and inland waterways – is one that is rich in culture, history and beliefs. Though my interests within this field are far and wide, people (notably women and people of colour) are always at the center of these connections in my research.

I am currently working on the 18th century transport of the breadfruit tree from its native South Pacific Islands to the West Indian colonies of the French and the British Empires. The mixing of biodiversity by individuals and nations in the past has had long-lasting consequences on both native and global environments, from the introduction of invasive species to the complete reinvention of cuisines and diets. I hope that my current research on breadfruit may shine some light on this little-known and underutilized crop, from how it fed sailors in the Pacific to it holding the key to food security in zones of scarcity in the present day.

Ever since starting my research on the transportation of live plants on board wooden sailing ships and the royal gardens they were often destined to, gardening has taken on more of a vocational purpose in my life than stayed a simple hobby of mine. Other non-academic interests include analog photography, oil painting, and befriending street cats.