The fortunes of the late nineteenth century’s imperial and industrial powers depended on a single raw material—rubber—with only one source: the Amazon basin. And so began the scramble for the Amazon—a decades-long conflict that found Britain, France, Belgium, and the United States fighting with and against the new nations of Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil for the forest’s riches. In the midst of this struggle, Euclides da Cunha, engineer, journalist, geographer, political theorist, and one of Brazil’s most celebrated writers, led a survey expedition to the farthest reaches of the river, among the world’s most valuable, dangerous, and little-known landscapes. The Scramble for the Amazon tells the story of da Cunha’s terrifying journey, the unfinished novel born from it, and the global strife that formed the backdrop for both. Haunted by his broken marriage, da Cunha trekked through a beautiful region thrown into chaos by guerrilla warfare, starving migrants, and native slavery. All the while, he worked on his masterpiece, a nationalist synthesis of geography, philosophy, biology, and journalism he named the Lost Paradise. Da Cunha intended his epic to unveil the Amazon’s explorers, spies, natives, and brutal geopolitics, but, as Susanna B. Hecht recounts, he never completed it—his wife’s lover shot him dead upon his return. At once the biography of an extraordinary writer, a masterly chronicle of the social, political, and environmental history of the Amazon, and a superb translation of the remaining pieces of da Cunha’s project, The Scramble for the Amazon is a work of thrilling intellectual ambition.
The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities provides a comprehensive, transnational, and interdisciplinary map to the field, offering a broad overview of its founding principles while providing insight into exciting new directions for future scholarship. Articulating the significance of humanistic perspectives for our collective social engagement with ecological crises, the volume explores the potential of the environmental humanities for organizing humanistic research, opening up new forms of interdisciplinarity, and shaping public debate and policies on environmental issues. Sections cover: The Anthropocene and the Domestication of Earth Posthumanism and Multispecies Communities Inequality and Environmental Justice Decline and Resilience: Environmental Narratives, History, and Memory Environmental Arts, Media, and Technologies The State of the Environmental Humanities The first of its kind, this companion covers essential issues and themes, necessarily crossing disciplines within the humanities and with the social and natural sciences. Exploring how the environmental humanities contribute to policy and action concerning some of the key intellectual, social, and environmental challenges of our times, the chapters offer an ideal guide to this rapidly developing field.
Widespread human alteration of the planet has led many scholars to claim that we have entered a new epoch in geological time: the Anthropocene, an age dominated by humanity. This ethnography is the first to directly engage the Anthropocene, tackling its problems and paradoxes from the vantage point of the world's largest tropical rainforest. Drawing from extensive ethnographic research, Nicholas Kawa examines how pre-Columbian Amerindians and contemporary rural Amazonians have shaped their environment, describing in vivid detail their use and management of the region's soils, plants, and forests. At the same time, he highlights the ways in which the Amazonian environment resists human manipulation and control—a vital reminder in this time of perceived human dominance. Written in engaging, accessible prose, Amazonia in the Anthropocene offers an innovative contribution to debates about humanity's place on the planet, encouraging deeper ecocentric thinking and a more inclusive vision of ecology for the future.
This book compiles a collection of case studies analysing drivers of and responses to change amongst contemporary hunter-gatherers. Contemporary hunter-gatherers’ livelihoods are examined from perspectives ranging from historical legacy to environmental change, and from changes in national economic, political and legal systems to more broad-scale and universal notions of globalization and acculturation. Far from the commonly held romantic view that hunter-gatherers continue to exist as isolated populations living a traditional lifestyle in harmony with the environment, contemporary hunter-gatherers – like many rural communities around the world - face a number of relatively new ecological and social challenges to which they are pressed to adapt. Contemporary hunter-gatherer societies are increasingly and rapidly being affected by Global Changes, related both to biophysical Earth systems (i.e., changes in climate, biodiversity and natural resources, and water availability), and to social systems (i.e. demographic transitions, sedentarisation, integration into the market economy, and all the socio-cultural change that these and other factors trigger).
The Social Lives of Forests
Author: Susanna B. Hecht, Kathleen D. Morrison, Christine Padoch
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Forests are in decline, and the threats these outposts of nature face—including deforestation, degradation, and fragmentation—are the result of human culture. Or are they? This volume calls these assumptions into question, revealing forests’ past, present, and future conditions to be the joint products of a host of natural and cultural forces. Moreover, in many cases the coalescence of these forces—from local ecologies to competing knowledge systems—has masked a significant contemporary trend of woodland resurgence, even in the forests of the tropics. Focusing on the history and current use of woodlands from India to the Amazon, The Social Lives of Forests attempts to build a coherent view of forests sited at the nexus of nature, culture, and development. With chapters covering the effects of human activities on succession patterns in now-protected Costa Rican forests; the intersection of gender and knowledge in African shea nut tree markets; and even the unexpectedly rich urban woodlands of Chicago, this book explores forests as places of significant human action, with complex institutions, ecologies, and economies that have transformed these landscapes in the past and continue to shape them today. From rain forests to timber farms, the face of forests—how we define, understand, and maintain them—is changing.
Soy in South America constitutes one of the most spectacular booms of agro-industrial commodity production in the world. It is the pinnacle of modernist agro-industrial practices, serving as a key nexus in food–feed–fuel production that underpins the agribusiness–conservationist discourse of "land sparing" through intensification. Yet soy production is implicated in multiple problems beyond deforestation, ranging from pesticide drift and contamination to social exclusion and conflicts in frontier zones, to concentration of wealth and income among the largest landowners and corporations. This book explores in depth the complex dynamics of soy production from its diverse social settings to its transnational connections, examining the politics of commodity and knowledge production, the role of the state, and the reach of corporate power in everyday life across soy landscapes in South America. Ultimately, the collection encourages us to search and struggle for agroecological alternatives through which we may overcome the pitfalls of this massive transnational capitalist agro-industry. This book was originally published as a special issue of The Journal of Peasant Studies.