Cultural Forests of the Amazon: A Historical Ecology of People and Their Landscapes

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University of Alabama Press, Aug 20, 2013 - Science - 268 pages
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Winner of the Society for Economic Botany's Mary W. Klinger Book Award.

Cultural Forests of the Amazon is a comprehensive and diverse account of how indigenous people transformed landscapes and managed resources in the most extensive region of tropical forests in the world. Until recently, most scholars and scientists, as well as the general public, thought indigenous people had a minimal impact on Amazon forests, once considered to be total wildernesses. William Balé e’ s research, conducted over a span of three decades, shows a more complicated truth. In Cultural Forests of the Amazon, he argues that indigenous people, past and present, have time and time again profoundly transformed nature into culture. Moreover, they have done so using their traditional knowledge and technology developed over thousands of years. Balé e demonstrates the inestimable value of indigenous knowledge in providing guideposts for a potentially less destructive future for environments and biota in the Amazon. He shows that we can no longer think about species and landscape diversity in any tropical forest without taking into account the intricacies of human history and the impact of all forms of knowledge and technology. Balé e describes the development of his historical ecology approach in Amazonia, along with important material on little-known forest dwellers and their habitats, current thinking in Amazonian historical ecology, and a narrative of his own dialogue with the Amazon and its people.
 

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Contents

Landscape Transformations
1
Contact and Attrition
71
Illustrations
112
Indigenous Savoir Faire
119
Dimensions of Diversity
159
Appendix I Guajá Generic Plant Names
185
Appendix II Trees of the Anthropogenic Forest
203
Notes
207
Works Cited
213
Permissions
248
Index
249
Copyright

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About the author (2013)

William Bal e is a world-renowned expert on the cultural and historical ecology of the Amazon basin and is a professor of anthropology at Tulane University. He is the author of Inside Cultures: A New Introduction to Cultural Anthropology and Footprints of the Forest: Ka'apor Ethnobotany--The Historical Ecology of Plant Utilization by an Amazonian People and the editor of Advances in Historical Ecology.


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