Reviews

Author: 
Steinberg, Ted

Steinberg, Ted. "Down to Earth: Nature, Agency, and Power in History." The American Historical Review 107, no. 3 (2002): 798-820.

To open this article Steinberg looks to history textbooks as a gage of what goes noticed and unnoticed by historians of late. He mentions how the shift from grand political and intellectual narratives to a focus on the contingencies posed by constructions of race, class, gender and sexuality has been generally accepted, yet he laments that in these treatments of how power inequalities form and transform, there is a gaping hole where nature’s agency—“defined here as plants and animals, soil and water, climate and weather” (799)— would be considered as inter acting with human agency—Here he expands on Sewell’s structure-agency equation and pushes us to take nature as more than a mere backdrop. One great illustration of this is seen in the way Crosby’s work has become nearly axiomatic, while a scant few historians ask about the power differentials implicit in the Columbian Exchange, as Carney—a geographer—has dutifully deconstructed. Taking on the question of how environmental history might make itself more relevant to other field by addressing some of the larger questions historians grapple with, Steinberg looks at four cases.

First He demonstrates how by looking at the impact of Northeastern industrialization on riverine ecosystems, and particularly fish, we can further flesh out the social implications of the factory order. As one example he looks at the way damming rivers for industrial purposes isolated backcountry fishers upstream, a problem that had consequences beyond the cultural import of having to do without fish. This issue also resulted in legal transformations, as common law allowing fishers to destroy dams if they interfered with their access to fish, was eroded under the rise of powerful industrial interests during the nineteenth century.

Author: 
Piccato, Pablo

Piccato, Pablo. The Tyranny of Opinion: Honor in the Construction of the Mexican Public Sphere. Durham, Duke University Press, 2010.

Piccato looks at how romanticist rhetoric was adapted in the defense of honor and the impact that had on the public sphere during the República Restaurada and the first half of the Porfiriato. Impressively written and sharply theorized, this book makes significant—and timely—strides to broaden politics in a way that incorporates personal hubris and rhetorical style. Some very interesting ideas are brought up, like the role of passion and heroism in closing the public sphere (something Cornel West touches on in a very different context when he discusses the legacy of MLK), or the way Diaz’s regulation reflected a process by which honor became property protected under the law, effectively commoditizing hubris. Yet as a story of how male aristocrats transformed the public sphere, the general narrative of The Tyranny of Opinion still leaves me unsettled.

Sure, Piccato’s treatment of journalists and students complicates the top-down approach. Both groups, given their precarious position as poverty stricken yet active participants in the formation of public opinion are seen as transcending class. And taking a page from Chambers’ playbook, Piccato does have one chapter on the way common women defended their self-identification as gente decente in the courts. But this book is no example of politics from below in the style of Chambers. Nor is it a case of morality being defined through domination and resistance, as French describes. Indeed, while Chambers examines the place of honor in shaping the political participation of common early republican Arequipeños, and French demonstrates how class formation in the mining districts of late Porfirian and revolutionary Chihuahua relied not on economic stature but on a contentious negotiation of middle-class manners and morals, Piccato—with few exceptions— addresses elite agency, treating honor as a Siglo de Oro construct that male aristocrats duel over.
 

Author: 
Chambers, Sarah C

Chambers, Sarah C.. From Subjects to Citizens: Honor, Gender, and Politics in Arequipa, Peru, 1780-1854. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999.

Chambers uses a study of honor in political culture to deconstruct the process by which Arequipa acquired the myth of the White City, the idea that it has always been a bastion of liberal democratic ideals and ethnic homogeneity. Instead, She argues that what seemed the idea that Arequipa has been a constant source of unified opposition to Lima, was in fact the result of a continual hegemonic process, which to be fully understood requires looking at the role of plebeians, or artisans, traders and tavern workers. She takes her cue from Mallon and gives us a story of politics from below, although this one deals with the urban popular classes of a Spanish American provincial city.

Drawing mostly on court documents, Chambers shows how plebeian actors vigorously contested notions of honor, and ultimately fueled the process by which honor changed from a colonial code rooted in status to a republican signifier of virtue.
 

Author: 
Mallon, Florencia

Mallon, Florencia E. Peasant and Nation the Making of Postcolonial Mexico and Peru. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

In Peasant and Nation, Mallon’s treatment of the central highlands takes a turn toward what she deems political history from below. By examining the way in which ethnicity- and gender-based hierarchies influenced the way rural communities generated nationalist discourses (she calls this communal hegemony), Mallon foregrounds the agency of rural actors in the process by which a state becomes hegemonic. This time comparing the case of Junin with cases from Puebla and Morelos, Mexico, and Cajamarca, Peru, she concludes that the Peruvian state would not become hegemonic until the Velasco regime based on the way hegemonic national discourses played out at the local, regional and national level. In the case of the central highlands of Junin, the separatist tendencies of the Comas Federation and the inherent rejection of Lima articulated at the regional level made the achievement of regional consent for state policy impossible until well into the middle of the twentieth century, even despite the flourishing communal political culture that arose in the fight against Chile. What I want to highlight about this case is that in her treatment of this three-tiered conflation of hegemonic processes, Mallon is still reliant on the articulation approach.
 

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

Author: 
Mallon, Florencia

Mallon, Florencia E.. The Defense of Community in Peru's Central Highland: Peasant Struggle and Capitalist Transition, 1860-1940. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 1983.

In The Defense of Community in Peru’s Central Highlands Mallon concentrates on the transition of modes of production in the Yanamarca and Mantaro valleys over the long nineteenth century. She challenges the notion that the highlands saw a uniform shift to capitalism under the modernization efforts of Nicolás de Piérola Villena in the lead up to and following the War of the Pacific. Indeed, by examining the interwoven nature of the region’s three major economic sectors—mining, agriculture and commerce—and demonstrating the interdependence of those sectors and the different factors constituting local household economies, she shows that the penetration of commercial capital into the region began with land speculation and cultivation was late to have an effect on mining operations.

Her argument treats flexibility and assimilation as defense. That is, she suggests that communities were able to maintain their social structures due to the flexibility of the peasant household economy and its ability to absorb the penetration of capitalist modes of production without substantial social alterations. In effect she describes the contentious and uneven process by which commercial capital became hegemonic in the Central Highlands, examining its impact on three distinct yet interrelated economic sectors.
 

Author: 
Appelbaum, Nancy P., Anne S. Macpherson and Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt eds.

Appelbaum, Nancy P., Anne S. Macpherson and Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt eds. Race & Nation in Modern Latin America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

As the title implies, this volume takes on nation and race. In dealing with both, the approach taken involves looking at articulation and process in a way that challenges static notions of either category. Thus Anderson’s theory of imagining nation is complicated by examining how that imagining took on different forms at different times, and the authors focus on racialization—the process of contention and negotiation by which meanings of race are articulated—as a conceptual tool used to approach the general question of why different articulations of race arose at different points in time.

With regard to the use of Nation as a conceptual tool, the aim of this volume it to more clearly historicize the way different discourses of nation have been mobilized. To this end the editors resort to a loose periodization that goes past Anderson’s prioritizing of the independence movements to look at how new definitions of nation emerged with the commodity booms, mass migrations and processes of proletarianization of the late nineteenth century, or the populist projects of the depression era, or the post-war rise of modernization schemes and social movements.

Author: 
Thurner, Mark.

Thurner, Mark. From Two Republics to One Divided: Contradictions of Postcolonial Nationmaking in Andean Peru. Durham: Duke University Press, 1997.

From Two Republics to One Divided marshals subaltern theory to address the rocky relationship between the Peruvian state and peasantry during the long nineteenth century. By foregrounding the agency of highland alcaldes and varayoc (a power holding subaltern class, much like the K’iché elite that Grandin looks at), Thurner positions his narrative in between those who saw no forms of peasant nationalism emerge surrounding the War of the Pacific (Spalding, Bonilla) or saw indigenous insurgency as representative of little more than ethnic tribalism (Bonilla, on p. 97) on the one hand, and those who argue peasant communities were a crucial locus of national mobilization (Manrique and Mallon) on the other.

Ostensibly the story of the post-War of the Pacific Huaraz uprising lead by Pedro Pablo Atusparia (an alcalde originario), I would argue this book is more broadly a story of taxation, the contradictory institution by which the state-peasantry relationship was primarily mediated. Thurner spans the period from the Tupac Amaru II uprising to indigenismo, and looks at the way the residual colonial tribute system clashed and converged with postcolonial Liberal reforms in a way that positioned local alcaldes as the linchpin of republican order (127).

Author: 
Sommer, Doris

Sommer, Doris. Foundational Fictions: the National Romances of Latin America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991

Doris Sommer expands the import of print media by suggesting that the newspaper was not only a site of collective imagining, but a space of national consolidation in which the ideological predispositions were negotiated through allegory. Moreover, Sommer underlines the function of romantic novels, published as folletines, in this process. Novels, she argued, especially due to their serialized publication in newspapers, did not merely condition the process of collective imagining, but via the national allegories that they perpetuated, novels influenced the ideological make-up and social values of the very communities they sought to reflect.

Like Anderson, Sommer deals with print media as a communal space, where national allegories transformed with time. For instance, she argues that over the course of the nineteenth century, the transformation of the archetypical male hero presented a blueprint for societal conduct with regard to Spanish imperialism (this was embodied by the soldier figure), then the project of national consolidation (portrayed by the patriarch) and right up to a newly kindled rejection of imperialist intervention, this time coming from the North (seen in the revival of the soldier-fighter-resister).

Note: If interested, there is more on Sommer in the second section of my Master's Thesis.

Author: 
Unzueta, Fernando

Unzueta, Fernando. “Escenas de lectura: naciones imaginadas y el romance de la historia en hispanoamérica”. Araucaria, vol. 6, no. 13 (2005)
Note: this is a Spanish version of Unzueta’s chapter in Beyond Imagined Communities.

Unzueta is trying to fuse Sommer, Anderson and Jauss to advance a constructivist analysis of the Nation as culturally produced. He argues that the novelistic conventions of nineteenth- and twentieth-century romances “seduced readers toward the pertinence of the nation”. (5)

For most of the first half of the article, Unzueta echoes a familiar chorus, highlighting the programmatic function of the novel and the way romantic relations were symbolically infused with national meanings. Once he begins to develop his notion of the “escenas de lectura”, however, things get interesting. He begins by arguing for the novel as representing a true popular culture that comes into its own in the mid part of the nineteenth century. To substantiate this clam he goes to numbers, arguing that novels not only reached the letrados, but that as folletines they most likely were passed around, and were also read in public readings, thus permeating oral culture as well. He also argues that beyond reaching new and broader publics, novels spurred new forms of reading (here he draws from Auerbach and echoes Said). Foundational novels had to be “original” and thus focused on Spanish American nature, customs and history. (12) As such they conditioned a horizonal change that retooled the readers' expectations.

Author: 
Carney, Judith Ann

Carney, Judith Ann. Black Rice: The African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2001.

I would argue Carney is successfully doing with agricultural knowledge what Sweet tries to do with spirituality. That is, she challenges theses of creolization and Middle Passage erasure to further the work of Peter Wood (African slaves participated in the development of the Carolina rice economy as more than just a source of labour) and Daniel Littlefield (their contributions came from experience in Africa) Carney’s argument is that African knowledge of irrigated rice cultivation crossed the Middle Passage in tact and was utilized to the benefit of Carolina rice plantations, constituting a significant asset to the antebellum economy, while also introducing methods of landscape transformation and gendered knowledge that came from Africa.

In both cases—Carney and Sweet—the argument necessarily deals with origins. Here Carney convincingly debunks the myth that irrigated rice cultivation was introduced in Upper Guinea by the Portuguese, and demonstrates how an indigenous species of rice—Oryza glaberrima— was domesticated independently of the more widely studied Asian species, O. sativa. She does this in two ways: first she offers a rereading of Portuguese chronicles; then she uses the concept of landscape gradient to illustrate a major fissure in the Portuguese-origin argument.

Author: 
Millones, Luis

Millones, Luis. Perú indígena: poder y religión en los Andes centrales. Lima: Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Peru, 2008.

In contrast to the likes of Greene, García, and Lucero, Millones wields a fixed notion of indigeneity, treating it not as an identity to be contested and negotiated, but as a classification seen in many different ways by distinct groups of foreign, local and institutional actors. While he does not staunchly defend a static notion of ethnicity quite the way someone like Abad González does, he does rely on a concept of indigeneity that conforms to the definitions used by institutions like the state and international financial institutions, most of which are often reduced to linguistic criteria.

The book is a compilation of three essays: one on indigenous Andean cosmologies; a brief survey of the current situation and relationship regarding the state and indigenous Peruvians; and an essay previously published (2004) under the title “Ser indio en el Perú.”

The first essay, centered mainly on the pre-Columbian Andes (Chavín, Wari, Tiwanaku, mostly), draws from early colonial sources (Huarochirí manuscript, Guamán Poma, Santa Cruz Pachacuti, as well as Sarmiento de Gamboa and Cieza de León) to paint a portrait of pre-Conquest cosmologies (primarily creation myths and divinities).

The second essay, which comprises the largest portion of the book, begins with a schematic overview of the demographic transformations since the Conquest and then deals with the ways different groups have perceived indigeneity. He treats them based on the separation between foreign, or external, portrayals, the view of non-indigenous Peruvians, indigenous self-representation,and the institutional visions of the church and the Peruvian state. In each case he gives what could best be considered an intellectual history covering a broad scale that often spans the colonial and republican eras. 

Author: 
McNeill, J.R.

McNeill, John Robert. Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620-1914. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Aedes aegypti = yellow fever
Anopheles quadrimaculatus = malaria
Let creole ecology = Aedes aegypti or Anopheles quadrimaculatus

(Any colonial encounter + creole ecology) / differential immunity = winner

I’ve got to admit I feel slightly mistreated. If you want to know the basic argument of Mosquito Empires read this, because it is little more than an elaborated version of what McNeill has already said. However, McNeil’s elaborations tend to mean more breadth, not more depth. Thus, despite his protest to the contrary I have to say his formulaic approach to geopolitical events can be reduced to mosquito determinism. (compare p. 6 with p. 234) And my qualms with his framework—namely, his belief in the power of stats and his unwillingness to explore the cultural components of individual stories—remain strong.  

He deals with the same cases: Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, Surinam and the revolution in Nueva Granada. But he also expands his scope, exploring the “greater Caribbean.” Most notably, he recounts the case of the southern colonies during the American Revolution, where the creole ecology that emerged was generated by the rice economy—not sugar—but the outcome was the same nonetheless: the local combatants, armed with malaria resistance, were able to besiege Cornwallis’ beleaguered forces at Yorktown until the French could intervene. While McNeill is still very much enamored of sieges and stand-offs, he also includes episodes of settlement deterred when he examines the disasters of the Scots in the Darien (1698) and the French in French Guyana (Kourou, 1763).

Author: 
Lucero, Jose Antonio and Maria Elena Garcia

Lucero, Jose Antonio and Maria Elena Garcia. “Un País Sin Indígenas: Rethinking Indigenous Politics in Peru.” In Nancy Postero and Leon Zamosc, eds. The Struggle for Indigenous Rights in Latin America. Portland: Sussex Academic Press, 2004.

Beginning with Millones' observation about the World Bank's inability to find indigenous people to fund in Peru, García and Lucero work to debunk the myth that Peru is a country without indigenous mobliization. Many of the points elaborated in Making Indigenous Citizens were first presented in this piece, although the central focus here is on the myth of Peruvian exceptionalism and less space is given to the interlacing of indigeneity and citizenship. Additionally this article specifically challenges Richard Chase Smith’s tripartite typology of indigenous movements (peasant labour unions, urban indianist—or radical pan-indian—movements, and ethnic federations (164)) to lay the groundwork for García’s ethnographic work on the less structural forms of mobilization that we see in bilingual intercultural education.

Often the ideas developed here are repeated almost verbatim in Making Indigenous Citizens, especially in chapters one and two. That said, there are two distinctions that make this piece a useful supplement to the book that followed it: it places more emphasis on the mobilization taking place in the Amazon and the urban indianist movements of the 1970s, and it approaches COPPIP as a more unified body, with no mention of the 2002 rift that is detailed in the book.

Author: 
García, María Elena

García, María Elena. Making Indigenous Citizens: Identities, Education, and Multicultural Development in Peru. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005.

García’s book is important because it presents a challenge to the idea of Peruvian exceptionalism; by arguing that the issue of language education has marked a crucial nexus of indigenous mobilization in the Peruvian Andes, she takes on the presumed absence of indigenous identity politics that Greene so succinctly reports. Drawing from Clifford, García uses articulation theory (emphasizing "agency as well as broader power relations"(166)) to deconstruct bilingual indigenous education in the Andes and frame it as a vehicle through which local, state and development actors participate in decision-making processes.

Divided into two main sections, the book gives some cursory yet significant historical background and then outlines García’s ethnographic case studies. As historical background, she focuses on the emergence of indigenous identity politics since 1980 and the politics of indigenous language education since the 1920s.

Her discussion of indigenous mobilization begins with the Sendero years and the government support of the rondas campesinas and the Asháninka Army. She then discusses the contradictory Fujimori years (she situates the 1992 constitution’s protection of cultural rights as rhetorically bending to international pressure while at the same time threatening the land and livelihood of indigenous peoples by facilitating mining concessions to multinational—often Canadian—consortia), the Paniagua commission, and ends with the shake-up surrounding CONAPA and the COPPIP’s.

To frame the issue of bilingual indigenous education García resorts to intellectual history, beginning with a survey of indigenismo (marked by González Prada and Mariátegui), then addressing the Arguedas’ promotion of bilingualism and the emergence of interculturality in its present form. 

Author: 
Van Cott, Donna Lee

Van Cott, Donna Lee. Radical Democracy in the Andes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Essentially picking up where Yashar left off, Van Cott looks at the impact of indigenous mobilization on political institutions in Bolivia and Ecuador since the 1990s. For instance, one of the major parties she examines, Pachakutik, sprung from the movement, CONAIE, whose emergence Yashar studies. Van Cott also deals in detail with localities governed by representatives from MAS and Felipe Quispe’s Movimiento Indígena Pachakuti in Bolivia, as well as Amauta Jatari in Ecuador.

As an interesting aside, Yashar looks at Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, arguing indigenous mobilization in Peru was scant and of little consequence for state institutions (the par excellence of the Peruvian exceptionalism García and Greene take on); Van Cott, in her way, solidifies this view by leaving Peru out entirely, instead looking to Bolivia and Ecuador because they represent cases where indigenous politics have had the greatest likelihood of institutional innovation through a confluence of processes of decentralization, specific characteristics of leadership and the formation of indigenous political parties. Thus, for Van Cott, indigenous mobilization is defined by the formation, consolidation and innovation of traditional political institutions and social movements, and she maintains the division between the two that Mallon tries to do away with.

Author: 
Stepan, Nancy Leys

Stepan, Nancy Leys. Picturing Tropical Nature. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001.

Picturing Tropical Nature looks at the ways the tropics, tropical people and tropical diseases have been represented over the past two centuries. Decidedly anti-post-structuralist, Stepan works under the assumption that the accounts, illustrations, photographs and gardens that she analyzes symbolically represent a guiding mentality, thus the material she looks at is not considered to possess and exercise its own power, based on its position at the nexus of cultural transformations (as Andermann, Rowe et al, would have it). Instead, Humboldt’s depiction of the Andean volcanoes, Chimborazo and Cotopaxi; Wallace’s tale of eating a monkey; Agassiz’s anti-Darwinist (casta) photos; the images of elephantiasis and Chagas’s disease; Roberto Burle Marx’s landscape designs; all of these are examples of media symbolically endowed with the ideas of their authors and their times. (To keep track, I’ll list the person, representations and world-view that she deals with below.)

This point of view troubles me because—well, because I would tend to side with the post-structuralists—but my concern is that, by not taking into account the role these representations play in determining, as much as reflecting, the popular tropical theories of their time, Stepan is loosing sight of a major variable. She has chosen each figure and their representations because she says they mark a significant change in the way tropical nature is portrayed. But by only focusing on the ideology they represent, without much consideration of how they influence formation of ideologies, we miss out a lot of the story.

Author: 
Hecht, Susanna and Alexander Cockburn

Hecht, Susanna and Alexander Cockburn. The Fate of the Forest: Developers, Destroyers and Defenders of the Amazon. New York: Verso, 1989.

This is a good book. Even though the final conclusions mark the specific place and time of its writing, the overall approach of fusing a human-rights focus with environmental concerns is still illuminating. This is also a useful source on major debates in species diversity (chapter 2), the structural causes of deforestation (chapter 6) and conservation approaches (chapter 9).

The first half of the book introduces the reader to the nature of the Amazon, the initial incursions of colonial and national actors into the region and the discourses that drove them.

Chapter 1—more or less mirrored by Pizarro—lays out how the regions lent spatial dimensions to discourses of emptiness, abundance, imperial empiricism (echoing Worster), and transcendentalism's Edenic narratives (again echoing Worster). Next Hecht and Cockburn offer a very useful narrative excursion through the geology, hydrology, silviculture and biodiversity of the region, emphasizing how nature influenced history and outlining the various debates on species diversity. Specifically they link trends in environmentalism to theories of species diversity, arguing those who embrace “refugia” models (25) also tend to advocate “Eden under a glass” national parks and preserves of the progressivism ilk. Alternatively, they associate “endogenous disturbance” models—from which I assume the "patchworks" idea emerged—with what we might now call an environmental justice perspective, clearly their lens of choice. Next is a discussion of fire, both as a source of forest succession and destruction, along with the ecological consequences of clearing pasture. Finally, the first half introduces the reader to major economic incursions into the region, beginning with the Pombaline reforms and ending with Ford and the Allied effort to secure rubber supplies.

Author: 
Pratt, Mary Louise

Pratt, Mary Louise. “Why the Virgin of Zapopan Went to Los Angeles.” In Jens Andermann and William Rowe, Images of Power: Iconography, Culture and the State in Latin America. Oxford, Berghnan, 2006.

I really like this piece, especially for the take on the "flow" metaphor that Pratt offers.

Really just bookended by the case of the Virgin of Zapopan, this article itself becomes demodernised. After subscribing to the blanket narrative of despair, it emerges from the grid to tell a story of resistance, of people “keeping it together” in the placelessness of globality.

This last sentence should make sense once I’ve gone through the article’s main points. After introducing the figure of the Virgin of Zapopan, Pratt proceeds to “think through mobility” by showing how the travel narratives of old have re-emerged in the form of late-twentieth century mobility. There are shipwreck narratives, castaway narratives, the theme of slavery resurfaces and the survival literature of the past is reconfigured into the stories of death that abound today. The context for this litany of despair is quickly revealed to be a mere rouse; the shroud of “globalization” is, in the words of John Kenneth Galbraith, a North American invention “to disguise our program of economic intervention in other countries.” (276)

The most salient trope of globalization is the “flow metaphor,” a means by which the monsters and madness of mobility are subsumed into a discourse of legitimacy. Flow, however, 1) does not distinguish between kinds of movement; 2) it bypasses the question of directionality; 3) it naturalizes; 4) it obliterates human agency and intentionality; and it 5) imposes verticality under the guise of a democratizing market. (277)

Author: 
Dean, Warren

Dean, Warren. Brazil and the Struggle for Rubber: A Study in Environmental History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

Unlike many books dealing with rubber, Dean goes beyond the turn-of-the-century rubber boom and the 1980s tappers' struggle to tell the story of rubber as is spanned the latter half of the nineteenth century and all of the twentieth century. This scale and the “struggle” from the title bring an important non-human actor to the fore: Microcyclus ulei, the fungal cause of South American Leaf Blight. Thus, this story is not one of coexisting modes of production (Weinstein), nor a utopian variant of economic imperialism (Grandin), nor is it used to set the scene for the conquests of Richard Evans Schultes (Davis). Instead, the story focuses on the interaction of humans and fungus, in a dance that has had economic, political and cultural repercussions the world over.   

The book’s structure is derived from four main questions: 1) how was the Brazilian rubber monopoly lost; 2) Why didn’t the Brazilians take up rubber cultivation themselves; 3) Why couldn’t the U.S.A. achieve its efforts in cultivation; and 4) why couldn’t technological and economic innovations fuel cultivation.
The first question takes on the myth that has emerged around the figure of Henry Wickham, who was not the first to take H. brasiliensis from Brazil—João Martins da Silva Coutinho sent seeds to Paris in 1861—nor were his seeds the first to be grown in England’s Asian colonies. His mass of some 70,000 seeds, however, did become the source of the rubber plantations in Ceylon and Malaya.

From here, Dean fixes on the endless struggle to compete with the Asian plantations by shifting from wild to planted rubber in the Western hemisphere, and while he leaves room for other culprits, what he deems “the reason” (title of chapter 4) becomes this story’s protagonist. From here on out the answer to his other questions, with some variance in detail, can be boiled down to leaf blight.

Author: 
Anderson, Robin L

Anderson, Robin L.. Colonization as Exploitation in the Amazon Rain Forest, 1758-1911. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1999.

In broad strokes, Anderson gives a diagram of colonization projects in Pará state beginning under the Directorate (1758-1798, when colonization was more widespread) and ending in the national period (when it was more concentrated in the Bregantina east of Belem). She explains how colonization went from being a rigid immutable state project under the Directorate, to almost not existing during the empire—thanks to the crisis of the Cabanagem—to finally reemerging as a source of fierce politicking by the end of the empire and into the first decades of the national period.

As a state project, colonization is looked at through the eyes of the policymakers, not the colonists themselves, nor the Indians they used as forced labour. I say “broad strokes” because Anderson takes on a lot here. And by doing so, she opens plenty of avenues for further work to be done.

First she locates internal colonization within a specific mentality (my word, not hers). She opens with a discussion of the similarities and continuities of colonization as a project. She draws parallels between the Spanish encomienda system, the mit’a system and the goals of settling colonists and assimilating Indians set out by the Directorate. Interestingly, in her epilogue she argues internal colonization embodies a series of phenomena—extractivism, racism, ecological degradation—that are not new, and I would argue based on the Peruvian example that it also relies on a set of practices—piggybacking on the work of missionaries, for instance—that have remained constant over time.  

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