An Environmental History of Latin America

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2007-08-27
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press

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A narration of the mutually mortal historical contest between humans and nature in Latin America. Covering a period that begins with Amerindian civilizations and concludes in the region's present urban agglomerations, the work offers an original synthesis of the current scholarship on Latin America's environmental history and argues that tropical nature played a central role in shaping the region's historical development. Human attitudes, populations, and appetites, from Aztec cannibalism to more contemporary forms of conspicuous consumption, figure prominently in the story. However, characters such as hookworms, whales, hurricanes, bananas, dirt, butterflies, guano, and fungi make more than cameo appearances. Recent scholarship has overturned many of our egocentric assumptions about humanity's role in history. Seeing Latin America's environmental past from the perspective of many centuries illustrates that human civilizations, ancient and modern, have been simultaneously more powerful and more vulnerable than previously thought.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introduction: Props and Sceneryp. 1
An Old World Before It Was "New"p. 8
Shaping Fertile Landscapesp. 11
Attitudes toward Nature and Consumptionp. 26
People Eating Peoplep. 36
The Question of Sustainabilityp. 40
Nature's Conquestsp. 49
Pestilencep. 50
Biodiversity's Gainsp. 56
An Enriched Platterp. 61
Responding to Alien Naturesp. 65
The Colonial Balance Sheetp. 77
Consuming Sugarp. 79
Deadly Silverp. 87
Handcuffed Colonistsp. 91
Tropical Determinismp. 105
Racist Dogmasp. 106
Tropical Diseasesp. 112
Natural Disastersp. 119
Plant Maladiesp. 125
Human Determinationp. 136
Mountains Movedp. 139
Guano Happenedp. 147
Rivers Reversedp. 155
Asphyxiated Habitatsp. 167
Urban Traditionsp. 169
Automotive Carnagep. 176
Curitiba's Presentp. 183
Demographic Futuresp. 189
Developing Environmentalismp. 193
Conservationism and Wildernessp. 195
The Limits of Popular Environmentalismp. 204
Invasions of Paradisep. 219
Epilogue: Cuba's Latest Revolutionp. 229
Suggested Further Readingsp. 237
Indexp. 249
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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