Why can’t a Quechua speaker wear pants? Anna M. Babel uses this question to open an analysis of language and social structure at the border of eastern and western, highland and lowland Bolivia. Through an exploration of categories such as political affiliation, ethnic identity, style of dress, and history of migration, she describes the ways that people understand themselves and others as Quechua speakers, Spanish speakers, or something in between.
Between the Andes and the Amazon is ethnography in storytelling form, a rigorous yet sensitive exploration of how people understand themselves and others as members of social groups through the words and languages they use.
Drawing on fifteen years of ethnographic research, Babel offers a close examination of how people produce oppositions, even as they might position themselves “in between” those categories. These oppositions form the raw material of the social system that people accept as “normal” or “the way things are.” Meaning-making happens through language use and language play, Babel explains, and the practice of using Spanish versus Quechua is a claim to an identity or a social position. Babel gives personal perspectives on what it is like to live in this community, focusing on her own experiences and those of her key consultants. Between the Andes and the Amazon opens new ways of thinking about what it means to be a speaker of an indigenous or colonial language—or a mix of both.
An anthropological approach to an emerging form of transnational political engagement by independent civil society organizations
Activism and advocacy have drawn academic interest as alternative ways of achieving collective ends outside established political institutions. However, there has been very little theoretical attention aimed at the interconnections between the two spheres. In Civil Becomings: Performative Politics in the Amazon and the Mediterranean, Raúl Acosta examines the manner in which progressive nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and activists act in a more intermingled and processual way than scholars have previously acknowledged.
Acosta focuses on networks from the vantage point of two NGOs: one in Brazil that concentrated on environmental issues in the Amazon and another in Barcelona called the Mediterranean Social Forum. The focus of this research is not on organizational aspects of collaboration, but rather on the practices and contexts in which such cooperation occurs. Three major aspects of activist and advocacy networks are analyzed: their communicative characters, their collective performances of the political, and the negotiations they engage in between vernacular and cosmopolitan values.
This volume theorizes the cooperative actions of activist and advocacy networks as legitimating processes for the work of participating groups. In doing so, Acosta argues, they address the issues that justify a joint campaign or effort and also crucially underpin each participating collective as a worthy organization of civil society.
The Colonization of the Amazon
By Anna Luiza Ozorio de Almeida University of Texas Press, 1992 Library of Congress HD499.A44A4413 1992 | Dewey Decimal 333.31811
Deforestation in the Amazon, one of today's top environmental concerns, began during a period of rapid colonization in the 1970s. Throughout that decade, Anna Luiza Ozorio de Almeida, a Stanford-trained economist, conducted a complex and massive economic study of what was going on in the Amazon, who was investing what, what was gained, and what it cost in all its aspects. The Colonization of the Amazon, the resulting work, brings together information on the physical, demographic, institutional, and economic dimensions of directed settlement in the Amazon Basin and raises significant questions about the gains and losses of the settlers, the reasons for these outcomes, and the economic rationale behind the devastation of the rainforest.
Particularly illuminating is Almeida's exploration of the role of the frontier in Brazil and her distinction between types of migrants and migrations. She concludes that the political costs avoided by not undertaking agrarian reform are being paid by devastating the Amazon, with the conflict between distribution and conservation steadily worsening. Today, it can no longer be circumvented.
Winner of the United Association for Labor Education Book Award 2021, this is essential reading for everyone who wants to understand the role of Amazon in our economy and society. With Amazon, supply-chain, and unionization in the news, it is both timely and incredibly informative.
Amazon is the most powerful corporation on the planet and its CEO, Jeff Bezos, has become one of the richest individuals in history, and one of the few people to profit from a global pandemic. Its dominance has reshaped the global economy itself: we live in the age of “Amazon Capitalism.”
“One-click” instant consumerism and its immense variety of products has made Amazon a worldwide household name, with over 60% of US households subscribing to Amazon Prime. In turn, these subscribers are surveilled by the corporation. Amazon is also one of the world's largest logistics companies, resulting in weakened unions and lowered labor standards.
The company has also become the largest provider of cloud-computing services and home surveillance systems, not to mention the ubiquitous Alexa.
With cutting-edge analyses, this book looks at the many dark facets of the corporation, including automation, surveillance, tech work, workers' struggles, algorithmic challenges, the disruption of local democracy and much more. The Cost of Free Shipping shows how Amazon represents a fundamental shift in global capitalism that we should name, interrogate, and be primed to resist.
Winner of the Society for Economic Botany's Mary W. Klinger Book Award.
Cultural Forests of the Amazon is a comprehensive and diverse account of how indigenous people transformed landscapes and managed resources in the most extensive region of tropical forests in the world.
Until recently, most scholars and scientists, as well as the general public, thought indigenous people had a minimal impact on Amazon forests, once considered to be total wildernesses. William Balée’s research, conducted over a span of three decades, shows a more complicated truth. In Cultural Forests of the Amazon, he argues that indigenous people, past and present, have time and time again profoundly transformed nature into culture. Moreover, they have done so using their traditional knowledge and technology developed over thousands of years. Balée demonstrates the inestimable value of indigenous knowledge in providing guideposts for a potentially less destructive future for environments and biota in the Amazon. He shows that we can no longer think about species and landscape diversity in any tropical forest without taking into account the intricacies of human history and the impact of all forms of knowledge and technology.
Balée describes the development of his historical ecology approach in Amazonia, along with important material on little-known forest dwellers and their habitats, current thinking in Amazonian historical ecology, and a narrative of his own dialogue with the Amazon and its people.
Explorers of the Amazon
Anthony Smith University of Chicago Press, 1993 Library of Congress F2546.S68 1994 | Dewey Decimal 981.1
Explorers of the Amazon vividly describes how European explorers such as Pedro Cabral, Francisco De Orellana, Lope de Aguirre, and Madame Godin encountered the vast wilderness of the Amazon basin; how they searched, exploited, and fought over its riches; and what they learned and failed to learn through four centuries of adventure. Anthony Smith not only enriches this history with fascinating geographical, political, and scientific details but also gives a strong warning to those who continue to exploit this great river's resources.
"The history of Amazonian exploration, wonderfully told by Anthony Smith, is awash with madness—an extravagant mixture of the malevolent and the miraculous."—Stephen Mills, Times Literary Supplement
Chronicling the dramatic history of the Brazilian Amazon during the Second World War, Seth Garfield provides fresh perspectives on contemporary environmental debates. His multifaceted analysis explains how the Amazon became the object of geopolitical rivalries, state planning, media coverage, popular fascination, and social conflict. In need of rubber, a vital war material, the United States spent millions of dollars to revive the Amazon's rubber trade. In the name of development and national security, Brazilian officials implemented public programs to engineer the hinterland's transformation. Migrants from Brazil's drought-stricken Northeast flocked to the Amazon in search of work. In defense of traditional ways of life, longtime Amazon residents sought to temper outside intervention. Garfield's environmental history offers an integrated analysis of the struggles among distinct social groups over resources and power in the Amazon, as well as the repercussions of those wartime conflicts in the decades to come.
The largest group of indigenous people in the Bolivian Amazon, the Mojos, has coexisted with non-Natives since the late 1600s, when they accepted Jesuit missionaries into their homeland, converted to Catholicism, and adapted their traditional lifestyle to the conventions of mission life. Nearly two hundred years later they faced two new challenges: liberalism and the rubber boom. White authorities promoted liberalism as a way of modernizing the region and ordered the dismantling of much of the social structure of the missions. The rubber boom created a demand for labor, which took the Mojos away from their savanna towns and into the northern rain forests.
Gary Van Valen postulates that as ex-mission Indians who lived on a frontier, the Mojos had an expanded capacity to adapt that helped them meet these challenges. Their frontier life provided them with the space and mind-set to move their agricultural plots and cattle herds, join independent indigenous groups, or move to Brazil. Their mission history gave them the experience they needed to participate in the rubber export economy and the politics of white society. Van Valen argues that the indigenous Mojos also learned how to manipulate liberal discourse to their advantage. He demonstrates that the Mojos were able to survive the rubber boom, claim the right of equality promised by the liberal state, and preserve important elements of the culture they inherited from the missions.
"I am now writing up some notes, but when they will be ready for publication I do not know... It will be a long time before anything is arranged in book form." These words of John Muir, written in June 1912 to a friend, proved prophetic. The journals and notes to which the great naturalist and environmental figure was referring have languished, unpublished and virtually untouched, for nearly a century. Until now. Here edited and published for the first time, John Muir's travel journals from 1911-12, along with his associated correspondence, finally allow us to read in his own words the remarkable story of John Muir's last great journey.
Leaving from Brooklyn, New York, in August 1911, John Muir, at the age of seventy-three and traveling alone, embarked on an eight-month, 40,000-mile voyage to South America and Africa. The 1911-12 journals and correspondence reproduced in this volume allow us to travel with him up the great Amazon, into the jungles of southern Brazil, to snowline in the Andes, through southern and central Africa to the headwaters of the Nile, and across six oceans and seas in order to reach the rare forests he had so long wished to study. Although this epic journey has received almost no attention from the many commentators on Muir's work, Muir himself considered it among the most important of his life and the fulfillment of a decades-long dream.
John Muir's Last Journey provides a rare glimpse of a Muir whose interests as a naturalist, traveler, and conservationist extended well beyond the mountains of California. It also helps us to see John Muir as a different kind of hero, one whose endurance and intellectual curiosity carried him into far fields of adventure even as he aged, and as a private person and family man with genuine affections, ambitions, and fears, not just an iconic representative of American wilderness.
With an introduction that sets Muir's trip in the context of his life and work, along with chapter introductions and a wealth of explanatory notes, the book adds important dimensions to our appreciation of one of America's greatest environmentalists. John Muir's Last Journey is a must reading for students and scholars of environmental history, American literature, natural history, and related fields, as well as for naturalists and armchair travelers everywhere.
Made-from-Bone is the first work to provide a complete set of English translations of narratives about the mythic past and its transformations from the indigenous Arawak-speaking people of South America. Among the Arawak-speaking Wakuénai of southernmost Venezuela, storytellers refer to these narratives as "words from the primordial times," and they are set in an unfinished space-time before there were any clear distinctions between humans and animals, men and women, day and night, old and young, and powerful and powerless. The central character throughout these primordial times and the ensuing developments that open up the world of distinct peoples, species, and places is a trickster-creator, Made-from-Bone, who survives a prolonged series of life-threatening attacks and ultimately defeats all his adversaries.
Carefully recorded and transcribed by Jonathan D. Hill, these narratives offer scholars of South America and other areas the only ethnographically generated cosmogony of contemporary or ancient native peoples of South America. Hill includes translations of key mythic narratives along with interpretive and ethnographic discussion that expands on the myths surrounding this fascinating and enigmatic character with broad appeal throughout various folkloric traditions.
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.
When construction of the Madeira-Mamoré Railroad began in 1867, Bolivia had lost its war with Chile, causing it to become landlocked and unable to ship its minerals and other products from the Pacific Coast. Since Bolivia needed to find a way to move products from the Atlantic Coast, the government decided a railroad should be built around the Madeira River—which originates in Bolivia and travels almost 2,000 miles through Brazil to the Amazon—facilitating shipment to foreign markets via the Amazonian waterway. Completion of the railroad was initially stalled by lack of funding, but the project was resurrected in the early twentieth century and completed in 1912. Intended as an integral piece of the rubber export industry, the railroad became unnecessary once the world supply of rubber moved from Brazil to Asia.
Although there have been many brief chronicles and writings about the Madeira-Mamoré Railroad over the years, most barely scratch the surface of this incredible story. Of particular import in Tracks in the Amazon are the photographs—which until now have rarely been seen—taken by Dana Merrill, a New York photographer hired to document the construction of the railroad. It also includes reproductions of the Porto Velho Marconigram, an English-language newspaper written for and by the American expatriates who lived in the construction headquarters at Porto Velho. Because this unique railroad traversed the densest tropical jungle on earth, more than 10,000 workers lost their lives laying the first five miles of track. The images and descriptions of the life of the workers on the railroad illustrate the challenges of working in the jungles—the unforgiving climate, malaria and yellow feverbearing mosquitoes, and the threat of wild animals—which made conditions for the workers next to impossible.
Finalist for the International Latino Book Awards: Best Book in Nonfiction in Portuguese.
Underdeveloping the Amazon shows how different extractive economies have periodically enriched various dominant classes but progressively impoverished the entire region by disrupting both the Amazon Basin's ecology and human communities. Contending that traditional models of development based almost exclusively on the European and American experience of industrial production cannot apply to a regional economy founded on extraction, Stephen G. Bunker proposes a new model based on the use and depletion of energy values in natural resources as the key to understanding the disruptive forces at work in the Basin.
A close associate of Chico Mendes, Gomercindo Rodrigues witnessed the struggle between Brazil's rubber tappers and local ranchers—a struggle that led to the murder of Mendes. Rodrigues's memoir of his years with Mendes has never before been translated into English from the Portuguese. Now, Walking the Forest with Chico Mendes makes this important work available to new audiences, capturing the events and trends that shaped the lives of both men and the fragile system of public security and justice within which they lived and worked.
In a rare primary account of the celebrated labor organizer, Rodrigues chronicles Mendes's innovative proposals as the Amazon faced wholesale deforestation. As a labor unionist and an environmentalist, Mendes believed that rain forests could be preserved without ruining the lives of workers, and that destroying forests to make way for cattle pastures threatened humanity in the long run. Walking the Forest with Chico Mendes also brings to light the unexplained and uninvestigated events surrounding Mendes's murder.
Although many historians have written about the plantation systems of nineteenth-century Brazil, few eyewitnesses have captured the rich rural history of the twentieth century with such an intricate knowledge of history and folklore as Rodrigues.