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  • LALS 167
    AMAZONIAN SOCIETIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT

    WINTER 2002

    Merrill College, Room 130
    Monday, Wednesday, 3:30-5:15 PM

    Professor Rosineide Bentes
    Merrill College, Room 15
    459-3451
    Office Hours: Monday, Wednesday, 2-3:00PM

    Course Description:
    The topic under discussion in this course, Amazonian Societies and the Environment, is complex and fascinating. The plan for the quarter will focus on the environmental history of the Amazon. It will consider the diverse cultural, economic and natural contexts in which Amazonian Societies perceive their natural world and relate to it. From the perspective of both human experience and the natural world, diversity is the key to understanding the world's largest tropical rain forest. Being aware of their environment diversity, Amazonians created distinctive modes of occupying and using each ecosystem. From the 17th century onwards, their methods and techniques of production developed from a blend of different traditions - Native Peoples, Portuguese, Spanish, French, English, Italians, Arabs, Asians and many others. The Amazon is composed of parts of nine countries - Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Surinam, French and English Guyana. Especially in the Brazilian Amazon, the population originates in the blend of Indigenous Peoples with Portuguese, Africans and immigrants from all over the world.

    In each society, class, group or locale, people perceive the natural world, occupy and use it within distinctive contexts. At the same time, they are intimately related to events and people elsewhere in the world. This gives a fascinating dimension to the environmental history of the Amazon. Many of its environmental problems are planetary by their very nature, but still have a particular flavor that requires local responses. At the same time, having built a variety of methods and techniques of production that do not precipitate the massive destruction of nature, Amazonian societies have managed to preserve the largest forest on earth. These populations have a lot to teach to the world.

    The course examines the social dimension of what Westerners name 'nature' and 'environmental problem' and how this has defined the international debate on Amazonia. We will focus on the diversity of Amazonian environmental history and draw attention to the distinction between what might be environmental problem per se from the different ways of approaching it through a diverse set of readings. We will study Amazonian environmentally friendly economic activities and environmental problems. The emphasis will be in finding out to what extent the ways in which society thinks of environment and relate to it, is organized and interact with one another create and maintain these activities, as well as resolves environmental problems.

    The Course Objectives:
    A. Acquire a more sophisticated understanding of Amazonian environmental history and of its implications for the debate on environmentally friendly economic activities and environmental problems.
    B. Gain an appreciation for the diverse ways in which Amazonians understand and deal with nature from different social class, ethnic and national perspectives.
    C. Improve our understanding of how actions taken at the local level are related to events in other nations.
    D. Consider contending perspectives on major Amazonian environmental problems and examine possible difficulties in the way in which we address them.
    E. Discover what the Amazonians can teach the world to more clearly define its own perspectives about how environmental problems may best be lived with or resolved.

    Course requirements:
    Two papers (35 points each) 70 pts.
    Class participation 30 pts.
    Total 100 pts.

    Required Texts:
    Fisher, William H. (2000). Rain Forest Exchange, Washington and London, Smithsonian Institution Press
    Kolk, Ans, (1996), Forests in International Environmental Politics: International Organizations, NGO's, and the Brazilian Amazon, Utrecht, International Books
    Padoch, Christine, Ayres, Jose Marcio et al (Editors), (1999),Vazea - Diversity, Development, and Conservation of Amazonia's Whitewater Floodplains, New York, The New York Botanical Garden Press
    Posey, D.A. & Balee, W., (Editors) (1989), Resource Management in Amazonia: Indigenous and Folk Strategies, New York, The New York Botanical Garden

    Recommended Texts
    Brower, John O. (1989), Fragile Lands of Latin America, Boulder/San Francisco/London, Westview Press
    Denslow, Julie and Christine Padoch (1988), People of the Tropical Rain Forest, Berkeley/Los Angeles/London, University of California Press
    Fox, Jonathan & Brown, L. David (Editors), The Struggle for Accountability, Cambridge/Massachusetts/London, The MIT Press
    William Cronon, Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, New York/London, Norton
    Smith, Nigel; Serrao, Emanuel; Alvin, Paulo & Falesi, Italo (1995), Amazonia: Resiliency and Dynamism of the Land and Its People, Tokyo/New York/Paris, United Nations University Press

    All texts available at the Bay Tree Bookstore and on Reserve at McHenry Library

    Weekly Course Plan:
    Week One:
    Introduction
    Jan. 7: Intro. to course
    Jan.9: William Cronon, Uncommon Ground, Introduction: In Search of Nature (pp.23-56).

    Week Two: The Learning from the Native People and the Land Uses by the Western Newcomers
    Jan 14: Denslow and Padoch (org.) (Article by Darrel Posey, Kayapo Indian Natural-Resource Management (2 p.); Posey, D.A. & Balee, W., (Editors), 'The Culture of Amazonian Forests' by William Balee (21p.); D.A. & Balee, W., (Editors), Managed Forest Succession in Amazonia: The Ka'apor Case by William Balee and Anne Gely (30 p.) Posey, D.A. & Balee, W., (Editors), Rainy Seasons and Constellations: The Desana Economic Calendar by Berta G. Ribeiro (18 p.); Posey, D.A. & Balee, W., (Editors), Management of a Tropical Scrub Savanna by the Gorotire Kayapo of Brazil by Anthony Anderson and Darrel A. Posey(15 p.) - Total: 86 pages.
    Jan 16: Lecture on the historical process of appropriation of Land; readings: Posey, D.A. & Balee, W., (Editors), Process as Resource: The Traditional Agricultural Ideology of Bora and Huastec Resource Management and its Implications for Research by Janis B. Alcorn (15 p.);

    Week Three-Four: The Surviving Native Peoples; The Familial Smallholders
    Jan 21: Discussion on Book by Fisher, Rain Forest Exchange pp. 1-96.
    Jan 23: Discussion on the Book by Fisher, Rain Forest Exchange; readings: pp. 97-173.
    Jan 28: Discussion on the Book by Fisher, Rain Forest Exchange; readings: pp. 174-200.
    Jan 30: Posey, D.A. & Balee, W., (Editors), The Perception of Ecological Zones and Natural Resources in the Brazilian Amazon: An Ethnoecology of Lake Coari by John Freschione, Darrel A. Posey and Luiz Francelino da Silva (23 p.); Posey, D.A. & Balee, W., (Editors), Neglected Human Resource in Amazonia: The Amazon Caboclo by Eugene Philip Parker (11 p.)

    Week Five: The Amazon Economy Until the 1950's and the Post-1960's Era of Monopolist Capital Expansion
    Feb 4: Denslow, Julie and Christine Padoch (Articles: (1) Christine Padoch, People of the Floodplain and Forest (13 p.); Padoch, Christine, Ayres, Jose Marcio et al (articles: Scott Anderson, Fernando L. Tavarez and Manuel Fernandes M. Nogueira, The Usefulness of Traditional Technology for Rural Development (15 p.); Barros, A.Cristina & Uhl,Christopher, The Economic and Social Significance of Logging Operations on the Floodplains of the Amazon Estuary and Prospects for Ecological Sustainability (14 p.)- Total: 42 pages.
    Feb 6: The Frontier Approaches to the Amazon (lecture); Denslow, Julie and Christine Padoch (Articles: (1) Emilio Moran, Following the Amazonian Highways, 7 p.; (2) Marianne Schmink, Big Business in the Amazon, 13 p.)

    First Assignment due on Feb 06

    Week Six:
    Conflicting Views of Nature and Land Tenure
    Feb 11: Group presentations: Smith, Nigel; Serrao, Emanuel; Alvin, Paulo & Falesi, Italo Chapter 1 (Group 2); Smith, Nigel; Serrao, Emanuel; Alvin, Paulo & Falesi, Italo, chapter 2 (Group 3).
    Feb.13: Group presentations: Serrao, Emanuel; Alvin, Paulo & Falesi, Italo Chapter 6 (group 4); Chapter 7 (group 5) chapter 9 (group 6).

    Weeks Six-Seven: Power and Environment
    Feb 18: Kolk, Ans, (1996), Forests in International Environmental Politics: International Organizations, NGO's, and the Brazilian Amazon, Chapters 1 and 2.
    Feb 20: Kolk, Ans, (1996), Forests in International Environmental Politics: Chapter 3.
    Feb 25: Kolk, Ans, (1996), Forests in International Environmental Politics: Chapters 4.
    Feb 27: Kolk, Ans, (1996), Forests in International Environmental Politics: Chapter 6.

    Weeks Eight-Nine:Trends and Perspectives for the Future
    Mar 4 : Padoch, Christine, Ayres, Jose Marcio et al (Articles: (1) Deborah M. Lima, Equity, Sustainable Development, and Biodiversity Preservation: Some Questions about Ecological Partnerships in the Brazilian Amazon (16 pages); (2) Risto Kalliola, Paivi Joknen, and Eeva Tuukki, Fluvial Dynamics and Sustainable Development in Upper Rio Amazonas, Peru, (11 pages) - Total: 26 pages.
    Mar 6: Candance Slater, Amazonia as Edenic Narrative, in William Cronon, Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, pp.114-131 (17 pages).
    Mar 11: (Group Presentation: Fox, Jonathan & Brown, L. David (Editors) ( Chapter 6: Planafloro in Rondonia: The Limits of Leverage by Margaret E. Keck (37 p.) (group 1); Chapter 7: Ecuador: Structural Adjustment and Indigenous and Environmentalist Resitance by Kay Treakle (45 p.) (group 2); Chapter 12: Accountability within Transnational Coalitions by L. David Brown and Jonathan Fox (44 p.) (group 3); Kolk, Ans, (1996), Forests in International Environmental Politics: International Organizations, NGO's, and the Brazilian Amazon, Chapter 5 (group 4).
    Mar.13: Brower, John O., (Chapters 3: Transferring Traditional Technology: A Bottom-Up Approach for Fragile Lands by Gene C. Wilken); Chapter 10: Extractive Reserves: The Rubber Tapper's Strategy for Sustainable Use of the Amazon Rainforest by Stephan Schwartzman (12 p.); Padoch, Christine, Ayres, Jose Marcio et al (Articles: Mamiraua: The Conservation of Biodiversity in an Amazonian Flooded Forest by many authors (13 p.); Game Animals, Palms, and People of the Flooded Forests: Management Considerations for the Pacaya-Samira National Reserve, Peru (14 pages).

    Second assignment due on Mar 18

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