"Nature and Culture in the Andes provides a suite of graceful, sweeping essays on the relations of landscape and people in the Andean countries of South America. It offers fresh insights and personal reflections on timely and varied topics such as urban environmental change, disease ecology, wilderness, and food plant biodiversity. The book is a senior scholar's masterful contribution to environmental, cultural, and historical geography as well as to numerous related fields."-- Karl Zimmerer, author of Nature's Geography
"I doubt that anyone else writing at present in and for our discipline could create an equally convincing and even inspiring collage from disparate themes and materials as Dan Gade obviously has in this project. Somehow he makes it all hang together and impart a clear humanistic, but also a valid scientific message."
-- Philip L. Wagner, Professor Emeritus, Simon Fraser University
Nature and Culture in the Andes reveals the intimate and unexpected relationships of plants, animals, and people in Western South America. Throughout his quest to understand this geographically diverse region Daniel Gade integrates the imagination of an expert geographer with the research skills of a natural and cultural historian. He presents a holistic vision of the Andes, and of the world, that broadens the perspective achieved solely by objective scientific methods of inquiry.
In a series of essays that illustrate the convergence of nature and culture Gade demonstrates how traditional scientific preconceptions have hindered critical thinking. By showing, among other examples, that highland Incas who were thought to be incapable of functioning in the jungle have cultivated coca in warm forested valleys for generations, that the absence of trees in the Andes has long been attributed solely to climate without consideration of agriculture or human activity, and that llamas and alpacas are not--as popular knowledge has long maintained--sources of milk Gade encourages us to look beyond the obvious to see the true complexity of ecological relationships.