Reviews

Santos-Granero, Fernando, and Frederica Barclay. Ordenes y desórdenes en la Selva Central: historia y economía de un espacio regional. Instituto de Estudios Andinos, 1995.

Federica Barclay and Fernando Santos Granero treat the Selva Central provinces of Chanchamayo, Satipo and Oxapampa as constituting a “regional space” subject to the constant ordering and disordering of its ebb and flow from the influence of coastal and highland markets. Using cadastral data on tenurial regimes and land use, Barclay and Santos argued that production of export-oriented crops—namely coffee and fruits—operated as a model for increasing waves of migrants despite the fact it was often done on unsuitable land slated for other extractive pursuits like logging. For Barclay and Santos, deforestation in the Selva Central was the product of the region’s unruly status as hinterland, where extraction and demographic pressure met with ecologically sensitive lands with disastrous consequences. As but one example of the devastating effects of road colonization, Barclay and Santos analyzed SAN photographs from the Kivanaki region of the Perené Valley. They concluded that between the years 1977 and 1983—while La Marginal was in construction through the area—annual deforestation rates rose to more than twelve percent of the land surface. (229-247)

Merchant, Carolyn. Ecological Revolutions: Nature, Gender, and Science in New England. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989.

Almost thirty years ago, Carolyn Merchant demonstrated how a confluence of social and ecological pressures triggered a shift from predominantly subsistence-based agriculture to a surplus-oriented agricultural structure in eighteenth-century New England. She argued that the increased demographic pressure caused by colonization coupled with new demands on the regional ecology to push farmers toward a capitalist mode of food production with massive ramifications not only for soil fertility, but for the gendering of social relations, as many “farm women were not only wives, mothers and grandmothers, but also vegetable and poultry producers, food processors, cheese and butter makers, spinners, carders, weavers, sewers, herbalists, healers, and sometimes teachers or midwives, as well”.[1] The concomitant exhaustion of soils and feminization of commerce was something that Merchant also attributed to the system of patriarchal inheritance and its effect of reducing farm sizes over generations and exacerbating their dependence on dwindling ecological reserves. Merchant’s insights are invaluable, for they demonstrate the complex socio-ecological tensions between production and reproduction that push settler societies toward destructive, export-oriented agriculture. Moreover, the analytical nexus she draws between ecology, economy and gender offers a useful paradigm for understanding those tensions.[2] However, her analysis neglected the important realm of representation, especially the gendered representation of space.




[1] Carolyn Merchant, Ecological Revolutions: Nature, Gender, and Science in New England (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989), 150–53.

[2] I am drawing especially from Part Two: “The Capitalist Ecological Revolution” Merchant, Ecological Revolutions.

 

Martinez-Alier, Joan. “Ecology and the Poor: A Neglected Dimension of Latin American History.” Journal of Latin American Studies 23, no. 3 (October 1, 1991): 621–639.

After having read the The Environmentalism of the Poor the theoretical contribution of this essay seems repetitive. The argument in favor of ecological economics and the need for an historiography of political ecological economy in Latin America are covered in substantial detail in that book, so I would argue that the benefit of this article comes from the brief empirical accounts it deals with and the identification of historiographical holes that could be filled with an ecological economic approach.

In the opening sections Martínez-Alier defines the ecology of the poor, admitting that poverty does contribute to environmental degradation (interestingly he cites the consumption of crop seeds, negating the possibility of future production, as an extreme example; what about short-fallow-period swidden ag?), but not to anywhere near the same extent as affluence. Framing things in market terms, he argues that social movements that defend the survival of tribal, peasant or urban poor economies often assert a conservation agenda, though it may not have been explicitly stated. (Folchi, of course takes issue with this being unique to the poor.) Thus, by challenging export-oriented resource depletion, he argues, social movements of the poor contribute to the internalization of externalities. (622)

Two important and interwoven cases in which a socio-political consciousness did not result from ecological exploitation are those of guano extraction (1840-1880) and fishmeal production around 1970.

Veber, Hanne, ed. Historias para nuestro futuro: yotantsi ashi otsipaniki : narraciones autobiográficas de líderes Asháninkas y Ashéninkas. Copenhague: Grupo Internacional de Trabajo sobre Asuntos Indígenas, 2009.

Veber has put together a fascinating collection of oral histories that cover the lives and struggles of seven Asháninka organizers from the Selva Central. Inspired by Wolf’s dictum, this volume seeks to enrich the growing body of literature about Selva Central history by introducing indigenous personal histories in juxtaposition against the documentary evidence marshaled by the usual suspects in asháninka historiography: Barclay, Santos Granero, Fernández, Hvalkof, Varese, etc.

The seven informants whose accounts comprise this volume were or are all leaders of regional indigenous organizations. Miguel Camaiteri, from Oventeni in the Gran Pajonal, served as secretary of defense for his community in their struggle to gain recognition as a Comunidad Nativa. He later worked with the Central de Comunidades Nativas de la Selva Central and became a crucial agent on the defense of bilingual rights and language education in the Gran Pajonal. He was also one of the leaders responsible for organizing the rondas campesinas that fought Sendero Luminoso and the MRTA through the late 1980s and early 1990s. (10) When Miguel was elected regidor of the town of Atalaya, his brother, Pascual, a leader in his own right, took over the chairmanship of the Organización de los Ashéninkas del Gran Pajonal (OAGP).(12) As the regional president of CECONCEC in Chanchamayo and Perené, Miqueas Mishari was a crucial ally of the Camaiteris and was himself responsible for expanding the organization through the Selva Central. (12) Bernardo Silva Loayza, another activist working in Atalaya, served as a militant in (OIRA) and now works as president of the Empresa Comunal Indígena de Atalaya La Minga”, while Vicente Ñaco, Adolfo Gutiérrez and Agusto Capurro were all members of other regional organizations.

Cant, Anna. “‘Land for Those Who Work It’: A Visual Analysis of Agrarian Reform Posters in Velasco’s Peru.” Journal of Latin American Studies 44, no. 01 (2012): 1–37.

Anna Cant’s treatment of propaganda posters put out in support of the 1969 agrarian reform emphasizes the ideological function of graphics while at the same time situating those graphics on a trajectory of dependency theory inspired radicalization of the Revolutionary Government’s platform and program. Generally speaking, and rooting her analysis in the critiques posed by Mayer, Seligmann and Caballero, Cant sees the Revolutionary Government’s program as contradictory, a fact especially evident in the effort to instill the values of capital-intensive production in the minds and administration of workers collectives, or in the delicate position of retaining peasant support for what was a centrally administered program. For Cant, the poster is the ideal medium for teasing out such contradictions precisely because of “its ability to suggest several things at once”. (3) However, though she adds a new and important source to the large body of primary material involving the Velasco years, I don’t know that her central contention (i.e. that posters reflected major tensions in Peruvian politics and society) says much more than someone like Mayer (Cuentos feos de la reforma agraria) or Mallon (“Chronicle of a Path Foretold”) already has. After all, the ambivalent position of a government speaking in defense of the peasantry and trying to mobilize grassroots momentum in opposition to oligarchy, while still vying for centralized, top-down administrative control, seems to me to be well established at this point. That is to say that the superficial interpretations of the Velasco regime as a crazed dictatorship, such as those advanced by Chirinos and Chirinos (1977), have been largely reduced to what they are: one-dimensional, as Cant points out. (11-12)

In my Master's thesis I used two concepts developed by Achille Mbembe that I think might help elucidate the narrative nature of tenure regimes; 1) The integral ties between spatiality and temporality he establishes in "At the Edge of the World: Boundaries, Territoriality, and Sovereignty in Africa" and 2) the form these ties take on in quotidian life, deemed by him conviviality.

Legal regimes are vast and convoluted rhetorical tapestries draped over reality until corrosion, crisis or mere circumstance lifts them up, shakes them out and judges whether they face a good washing or wholesale replacement. I'll need to look more into this, but I don't think this is a notion unknown to the legal field. The field is indeed rife with rich language that points to this fact. Take, for example the concept of “piercing the corporate veil”. Like any good yarn, that veil comes with refurbished subjectivities; it engenders a new economy of spatial configurations; and it constitutes its own temporality.

Mbembe asserts the relative nature of the interaction between spatiality and temporality as the primary explanation for the phenomenon of territoriality in Africa. Similar to the way that Bhabha posits the “ambivalence of modern society” that results from the instaneity of two conflicting temporalities as “the site of writing the nation,” (Bhabha 209) Mbembe employs the idea of instantaneous temporalities to explore the Nation’s physical limitations. Given that boundaries on the continent are in a continual state of flux—pulsating with the ebb and flow of ethnic, economic, religious, sexual and political determinants—territoriality, he argues, must always be conceived not merely in geographical terms, but in temporal ones, as well. Thus the “inviolability of boundaries among states” (Mbembe 2000: 267) (i.e. the semblance of permanence exuded by political boundaries) paints a two-tiered picture of the continent’s territorial divisions, with the static outlines of the colonial past hovering over a dynamic system of continual, relative expansions and contractions. The frequent result of this is a severing of regional idiosyncrasies—of a traditional, economic, or political nature—under the imposition of nation-state boundaries grandfathered in, and in the service of an increasingly distant colonial age.

Author: 
McCook, Stuart

McCook, Stuart George. States of Nature: Science, Agriculture, and Environment in the Spanish Caribbean, 1760-1940. 1º ed. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002.

The physical space created in this narrative ranges across the Caribbean, looking at agricultural pursuits in Puerto Rico, Cuba, Costa Rica, Colombia and Venezuela. But more specifically, this is not a story of imperial exploitation that renders local actors passive (as is the case in Tucker). Instead, McCook draws on the innovations of Close Encounters of Empire and conceptualizes scientific institutions like Harvard’s Atkins Gardens at Cienfuegos, Cuba, the Escuela Superior de Agricultura de Medellín, Costa Rica’s National Museum, etc. as contact zones producing “creole science” something unique to the plant sciences of these countries because ecological variation rendered the imposition of U.S. scientific hegemony useless.

The periodization spans the broad period of late-nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century liberal reforms, and tells a story of the technocratic transformation of nature in the service of liberal states, beginning with export-oriented monocropping and the plant sciences’ treatment of the problems it posed and intensification efforts—especially in the sugar and coffee sector—and ending with the reorganization of the plant sciences during the Depression. The narrative’s general arch not only marks the reorganization of nature and the domestication of forests, but the production of “nationalist floras,” as botanists made local floras known to science, they also contributed to national positivist projects by giving plants a “civil status” and making them legible to the state.

Author: 
Tucker, Richard

Tucker, Richard P. Insatiable Appetite: The United States and the Ecological Degradation of the Tropical World. Concise rev. ed. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007.

Rooted firmly in the raubwirtschaft genre, Insatiable Appetite looks at the impact of America’s “ecological empire” in the first half of the twentieth century. It frames things in dichotomous terms (i.e. American capitalists and their local lackeys decimating tropical nature) and bestows agency upon the capitalists.

The value of this work is almost strictly empirical, although I would say that even in that sense, it suffers from the same weaknesses that Mosquito Empires does; namely that the net is cast so far that the empirical detail is more broad than deep. So this book gives accounts of the domestication of forest to make way for cane production in Cuba, Hawaii and later the Philippines. But it does not look at the role played by local actors in that process like McCook does. It gives details about the impact of the green revolution, explaining how shifts in cultivated species (Gros Michel to Cavendish), increased reliance on chemical fertilizer and pesticides (1950s) and migration (Honduras / Costa Rica to Ecuador / Colombia / Venezuala) resulted from the banana industry’s struggle against Panama Disease. But it does not give the kind of compelling vignettes of contaminated field workers that Miller does, or the very local-ness of United Fruit Co. enclaves in Colombia that Catherine LeGrand describes. It does, however give interesting detail on Firestone’s Liberia plantations, something that is grossly lacking in the other treatments of rubber history that I have looked at and written about here. (The extended first edition also has a sub-chapter on Fordlandia).

Author: 
Stokes, Charles

Stokes, Charles. "The Economic Impact of the Carretera Marginal de la Selva." Traffic Quarterly, Vol. 20, No. 4 (April 1966): pp. 203-226.

Attachment Size
stokes.pdf 5.91 MB

 

Grandin, Greg. The Blood of Guatemala: a History of Race and Nation. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000.

I want to focus on one page in particular from Greg Grandin’s The Blood of Guatemala. In his discussion of how education curricula and scheduling served to widen the class divide between rural K’iche subsistence farmers and urban principales, Grandin argues that the school year was planned around the needs of the coffee-based export economy. He shows how this fed the class divide by structuring time around the demands of the agro-production cycle. (172)

This scenario, however, makes me think about an ongoing quandary that I’ve yet to put to rest. As part of the effort to complicate nature-culture binaries, environmental historians have highlighted the agency of non-human actors, and broken down such monoliths as wilderness and nature to show how they are socially constituted. Likewise, non-human actors have been shown to complicate matters of scale, forcing us to problematize political boundaries like the city, state or nation by asking how dynamic environments influence or condition socio-political life. Yet the closest we have come to an equivalent watershed regarding temporal scale involves embedding human events within longue durée treatments of geological and climatological transformations. In these cases, however, there still exists a stark separation between what we may call “natural” (i.e. geological and climatological) and “cultural” time; temporally speaking, though juxtaposed, history is still anthropocentrically isolated from the natural history that surrounds it.

This may be because the environmental longue durée (remember, it didn’t mean geology and climate for Braudel, 1960) requires such a wide-angle view that the historical event is smoothed over; seen from a distance its “lumpiness” (Sewell 1996, 843) disintegrates.

However, disturbance theories and patchwork models have shown that non-human time doesn’t need to be equated with a leap to the geological longue durée (Zimmerer 1994). So I wonder if, rather than reverting to geological time when looking for a non-human temporality, we can instead talk about “plant time,” the meristematic temporality that bestows some order on plant events—photosynthetic moments, budding germination, reproduction.

Sawyer, Suzana. Crude Chronicles: Indigenous Politics, Multinational Oil, and Neoliberalism in Ecuador. Durham: Duke University Press, 2004.

Discussions I’ve had about this book tend to orbit around how bad it is. I don't think it is that bad, but I do see some shortcomings. So rather than simply summarize it, as I would usually do in a post like this, I want to examine a few of its strengths and weaknesses.

I think that as a study of environmental justice its merit lies in the idea that Sawyer develops of the mosaic of alternative nationalisms that are at play in the OPIP struggle against Texaco and an Ecuadorian state that increasingly abandoned its representative role and took on the role of fiscal manager. I think that her analysis of Oswaldo Guayasamin’s mosaic in the presidential palace becomes her metaphor for the idea of plurinational space that was espoused by the indigenous movement in Ecuador (and I would say uncritically embraced by Sawyer). Yet unsurprisingly, Sawyer’s personal commitment to the indigenous struggle poses a problem for her critical engagement with important concepts at play. I think is is very difficult—and commendable—to tread that thin line between political commitment and scholarly distance, but it will almost inevitably raise critical concerns.

For instance, Sawyer fails to problematize race. Sundberg has struggled to point out how Latin American environmental justice literature has failed to look critically at race and I think Crude Chronicles is a case in point. While Sawyer does take race as something that is constituted and masked through official spatial discourses, what she centers on is the negation of identity (50-51).

Author: 
Horna, Hernan

Horna, Hernan “South America’s Marginal Highway.” Journal of Developing Areas, Vol. 10 No. 4 (1976): pp. 409-424.

This piece comes across as an apologist ode to Belaúnde, peppered with statistics—the same ones Denevan uses, drawn from Stokes—and resting on a toothpick foundation forged from press accounts—Peruvian Times, Time, The New York Times and Semana en el Perú. There are, however, some redeeming qualities. For instance, Horna, while absolving Belaúnde of any guilt in his administration’s 1968 lackluster performance, focuses not just on the APRA-UNO opposition, but also in the American backlash to Belaúnde’s modest protectionism. Also, Horna gives a cursory account of the ways in which the Velasco administration carried the Marginal mantle into the context of the 1970s Amazonian oil boom. Interestingly, here Horna seems to continue embracing the view that road colonization will assuage the social strife caused by demographic pressure placed on land, while at the same time recognizing that roads were mostly built because of their value on the international stage: securing boundaries and resources, integrating markets (Andean Pact 1971, LAFTA), etc. This unique local-transnational symbiosis seems to result in part from the exorbitant costs of jungle road construction—$200,000 / mile in 1967 (416)—and the dependence that generates on international lenders.

Two other valuable aspects of this piece are the brief mention of Colombian, Ecuadorian and Bolivian participation in the continental dimensions of La Marginal’s construction. Also, this article is littered with anecdotal delicacies: like Belaúnde’s 1963 birthday gift of 25,000 tools (415); The pomp and circumstance where the Bolivian and Peruvian sections of the road were joined (414); Velasco’s effort to connect La Marginal to the Trans-Amazonian (418); and the quixotic hope of continental completion by 1995 (420).
 

Author: 
Davis, Mike

Davis, Mike. Buda’s Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb. London: Verso, 2007.

Buda’s Wagon is a good read. It’s clearly oriented toward a more popular readership and thus is lacking the detail and evidence one might hope for, but the approach is exciting. Davis follows the history of the car bomb, marking significant developments—from the early “wagon bombing” of Wall street in 1920, to the Stern Gang’s deployment of the car bomb as a go-to weapon of choice against the British, to the introduction of ammonium nitrate-fuel oil bombs in Madison, 1970, to the siege of cities like Beirut, Lima and Belfast—in the car bomb's trajectory as part of the “poor man’s air force.” This book is chronological, spanning the entire twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, and global in scale. What ties the narrative together is the constant development of evermore-destructive innovations in the car bomb’s implementation.

Author: 
Gotkowitz, Laura

Gotkowitz, Laura. A Revolution for Our Rights Indigenous Struggles for Land and Justice in Bolivia, 1880-1952. Durham: Duke University Press, 2007.

Focused on indigenous organizing and politics in pre-1952 Cochabamba, Laura Gotkowitz’s A Revolution for our Rights tells the story of the “revolution before the revolution.” This book is key because it fleshes out the intricacies, associations and years of struggle that often get written out of narratives of revolution. Thus while it does not discuss the land reform implemented as part of the Bolivian National Revolution, it meticulously lays out the legal battles, confrontations and protests launched by rural people for some 70 years before. Stressing legal battles, Gotkowitz shows how communities mobilized against the Liberal project fighting for corporate “absolute rights to property” in the last decades of the nineteenth century. Additionally they often fought for recognition of their right to rights. For instance, as a result of the 1945 Indigenous Congress a series of laws protecting colonos from their hacienda owners were passed. However, it was up to the communities to ensure that the laws were observed; Villarroel made no effort to enforce them.

As important as the emphasis placed on legal battles, is Gotkowitz’s unearthing of the dense network of associations that fueled indigenous and colono mobilization in Cochabamba. First off, struggles were often waged as indigenous community members and hacienda colonos together. Moreover, Gotkowitz shows how they were linked to urban labour movements, like the Confederación Sindical de Trabajadores de Bolivia (CSTB), as well as radical parties and organizations.

For text online click HERE (login to UBC Library required)

 

Author: 
Marisol de la Cadena

Marisol de la Cadena. Indigenous Mestizos: The Politics of Race and Culture in Cuzco, Peru, 1919-1991. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000.

Marisol de la Cadena’s Indigenous Mestizos tracks the roots and practices of what she calls “de-indianization,” or the process by which the racism that differentiates between categories of “Indian” and “mestizo” is reproduced and contested by working-class Cuzco residents. Balancing intellectual history and ethnography, the book charts elite ideas of race throughout the twentieth century and then examines the ambivalent reprocessing of those ideas by indigenous organizations, other intellectuals, as well as in daily practice in markets, and public and religious rituals.

She argues that Cuzco elites first developed a discourse of indigenismo as a way of distinguishing themselves from the modernist discourses of mestizaje that were associated with Lima. Meanwhile indigenous groups like the Comité Pro-Derecho Indígena Tawuantinsuyu perpetuated a vision of Indian-ness steeped in modern rhetoric of progress through education. By the 1930s and 1940s indigenista elites found competition in the form of “neo-indianist” ideas that, rather than exalting an idealized Inca past, promoted a discourse of mestizaje. Finally there were the Marxists, who, in the form of the Federación de Trabajadores del Cuzco in the 1950s and in the form of the government by the time Velasco famously turned Indians into peasants, represented the closest allies of indigenous cuzqueños. In the waning days of indigenismo, after the defeat of the Tawantinsuyu’s racialized pro-indigenous project, the alignment of indigenous issues with unions meant a confluence of race and class. While de la Cadena argues biology had never served the basis for twentieth-century racial categories, the general trajectory that she describes is one in which Indian-ness goes from being defined by culture, to being defined by class.

Author: 
Santiago, Myrna

Santiago, Myrna I. The Ecology of Oil: Environment, Labor, and the Mexican Revolution, 1900-1938. Cambridge [U.K.]: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Santiago blends social and environmental history to explain transformations in the Mexican oil industry leading up the Cárdenas' nationalization in 1938. The guiding concept she uses to bring these two fields together is the notion of an "ecology of oil," which addresses interwoven patterns of land tenure and use with social structures.
The major transformations she describes, then, fall along these three axes: tenure moving gradually from communal to private; use moving agricultural (subsistence and ranching) to drilling and refining; and the social landscape shifting from Huasteca to mestizo, as the industry attracted labour and the instability of the revolution—then post-revolutionary clientelism—pushed labour to the Vera Cruz.

Regarding tenure, the transformation she describes follows a common progression in which commonly held Huasteca land eventually became the property of foreign firms like Standard Oil and Royal Dutch Shell. However, unlike the situation Melville describes in the Valle del Mezquital, this progression is stunted and interrupted by the nature of the Huasteca landscape and the social transformations of the revolutionary and post-revolutionary period. Although consolidation of ownership did occur in the lead up to the revolution, land was not fully privatized by an invasion of ranching-focused hacendados, partly because the dense jungle and tar pits spotting the land were not conducive to large-scale ranching. Moreover, as foreign firms moved in to search for and exploit reserves, the instability of the revolutionary period made it more reasonable to rent from hacendados instead of purchasing land outright.

Author: 
Dore, Elizabeth.

Dore, Elizabeth. “Environment and Society: Long-Term Trends in Latin American Mining,” Environment and History 6 (2000): pp. 1-29.

From the outset this article takes on the tensions of capitalist production: namely the tendency to promote technical innovation, and alleviate worker exploitation, while at the same time driving to maximize absolute surplus production through continuous expansion, which has tended to deteriorate social conditions. Dore exploits this contradiction to theorize a relationship between labour and environmental conditions in which she suggests that as capitalist production expands, negative externalities are displaced from the work force onto the environment.

Pre-Conquest she echoes Cleary and relies on Denevan to debunk the pristine myth and argue that the Maya collapse, as well as destabilization across pre-Columbian Latin America may very well have had ecological dimensions. Also following Cleary, she defends the idea that the demographic collapse ushered in as part of the Conquest actually reigned in environmental decline, although she intimates that this may have helped the Amazon forests survive, rather than—as Cleary argues—allowing for the growth of secondary forest.

Her description of the colonial mining enterprise stresses the impact on the labour force. She hits all the big marks—Toledan reforms, Murcury amalgamation, patio process, mit’a, etc—and frames them as evidence of few technological advances and increasingly brutal exploitation of workers.

Author: 
Cañizares- Esguerra, Jorge

Cañizares- Esguerra, Jorge. “How Derivative Was Humboldt? Microcosmic Nature Narratives in Early Modern Spanish America and the (Other) Origins of Humboldt’s Ecological Sensibilities,.” In Colonial Botany: Science, Commerce, and Politics in the Early Modern World. Ed. Londa Schiebinger and Claudia Swan. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005, pp. 148-65.

This chapter deals with the origins of Humboldt’s theories of biodistribution and the influence that Spanish American naturalists had on him. It begins by dealing with Pablo Vila’s idea of the Euro-Creole origins of biodistribution and in particular, the role of Colombian naturalists Francisco José de Caldas’ botanical research in the Andes in shaping Humboldt’s view of South American ecology.

Cañizares explains how naturalists from José de Acosta to Linnaeus had resorted to an Edenic narrative of Andean nature in part due to the ecological variation offered by the ranges’ extreme altitudes. Looking especially at the Paraíso en el Nuevo Mundo (1645-50) of León Pinelo, Cañizares underlines two key parts of the paradisiacal narrative. First, as “many imagined imagined paradise as a tall equatorial peak with a multitude of climates (152), Pinelo resorted to the bible as proof that the eastern slope of the Andes was in fact the location of Eden. He used Gen. 2:6-15 and 3:24 to prove it, suggesting the four rivers were not the Gihon, Tigris, Euphrates and Pishon, but the Magdalena the Orinoco, the Amazon and the Plate (he also argued the angel w/ flaming sword was a metaphor for Andean volcanoes). Second, as Pinelo’s version of the sacred was based not in the regular but in the wonderful, his Paraíso en el Nuevo Mundo was filled with a catalog of Peru’s exotic flora—like passion fruit Passiflora edulis—and fauna. (As a side, in Pinelo we get a tripartite geography that is slightly different: lowlands—coast and selva—llanos, and highlands.)

Author: 
Folchi, M.

Folchi, M.  “Conflictos de Contenido Ambiental y ecologismo de los pobres: no siempre pobres, ni siempre ecologistasEcología Política No. 22, Ed. Icaria, (2001) pp. 79-100.

In this piece Folchi takes on the prevailing tenets marking the “environmentalism of the poor” frame, especially as Chile is concerned. He begins with a brief literature review in which he demonstrates the tendency of the ecologismo de los pobres school to locate the origin of Chilean environmental conflicts at the shift to the neoliberal model ushered in under Pinochet. Folchi argues that these studies neglect: 1) the long history of environmental conflict that goes back far beyond the 1973 coup; 2) the “ideological impurity” of many so-called environmentalist mobilizations (here he weaves ecological concerns into a fabric of social, material and traditional issues); and 3) the fact that environmental conflict can be generated by any kind of transformation, not necessarily degradation.

Under the Hapsburgs, the “common” status of the palma chilena was often a source of heated conflict that forced the colonial administration to choose between community access and the private property rights of landowners.

For instance, conflicts over fuel wood in early republican Chile were often played out between mine owners and hacendados, The issue over prohibition of the fraguas—or artisanal foundries—in mid-nineteenth century Santiago was one in which the poor artisans fought to continue contaminating the city’s air.

A community fought to get legislation passed that would regulate containment standards and require the neutralization of relaves de cobre to avoid toxic spills.
Environmental tension (tensión ambiental), to overcome Manichean approaches, and conflicts of an environmental nature (conflictos de contenido ambiental) to avoid the implication that tensions arise from a strict ideological defense of nature.

Author: 
Burt, Jo-Marie, y Philip Mauceri, eds

Burt, Jo-Marie, y Philip Mauceri, eds. Politics in the Andes: Identity, Conflict, Reform. Pittsburgh, Pa: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004.

As a volume I have to admit I didn’t find this book too useful. The comparative framework and normative baseline use of an ill-defined—even vacuous—notion of “democracy” made its contribution too vague for my liking. While I understand the attempt to isolate regional similarities in identity politics, violence and political transformation, and situate them within “broader, historical, political, economic and social trends,” (14) I’m afraid Burt and Mauceri cast the net too far.

That said, the individual case studies are of some use. Xavier Albó’s piece takes Yashar’s comparative approach and reaches the same conclusion that Greene and García challenge: namely that of Peruvian exceptionalism. Interestingly, he relies heavily on Iván Degregori’s argument, that Peru saw little indigenous mobilization, because of migration to the coast, where “choledad” was the mainstay of ethnic identity. Collins fleshes out a case from Van Cott, looking at the way Pachakutik emerged as an electoral manifestation of CONAIE.

The only other thing I want to mention is the emphasis placed on the role of personalistic politics in the rule of figures like Fujimori (Burt) and Chávez (López and Lander) and the threats it poses to, as well as the ways it interacts with, democratization.

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