Cultural Forests of the Amazon
A Historical Ecology of People and Their Landscapes
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: The University of Alabama Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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The point of this book is to share certain insights I have had in researching and thinking about Amazonian forests during the past quarter century. I use the term Amazon as the English name of the river that has the greatest water volume in the world, as well as to label the entire land surface it drains and the adjoining hin-terlands. I hope this volume can contribute not only to understanding the past of ...
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This book came together in part because of a colleague’s advice some years back. She suggested my papers were scattered and hard to find and that it would be useful for those who might be interested in reading them if they were reprinted in a single volume. She said this, in part, because I have indeed published articles and chapters, as some of us do from time to time, in a variety of venues, in clud ing rather hard- to- ...
part ILandscape Transformations
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The following three chapters contain background data on the emergence of an-thropogenic forests in the Amazon region, before these and natural (or high) for-ests were subjected to the ravages of modern industrial agriculture, commercial log ging, and conversion to bovine pasturelands. The origins of cultural influences on Amazonian forests have a deep past, far beyond the memory of the people who ...
1Villages of Vines and Trees
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The Ka’apor cultural consultants whom I considered to be the most knowledgeable on the subject of forest types and vegetative associations told me our destination, the old growth forest, looked like a true forest, but that it was in reality an old vil-lage, long abandoned by any human occupants. They called it taper (pronounced ta- pair), and for them it constituted more than the continual triumph of luxuriant ...
2An Estimate of Anthropogenesis
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Scientists and laymen alike most oft en perceive Amazonia as being one of the pri-mordial cores of earthly nature. Remarkably few studies by scientists in any field have embraced the possibility that large portions of Amazonian forests manifest cultural histories. Many students of cultural ecology, which constitutes the branch of anthropology concerning relationships between human beings and the land, ...
3Comparison of High and Fallow Forests
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A scheme that pigeonholes Amazonian forests as being somehow pristine—the “wilderness” or selvas—has dominated the West ern scientific as well as popu lar imagination since at least the nineteenth century. Most theories in cultural ecology tend to evade whether indigenous societies and technologies, in fact, might have transformed the Amazonian wilderness permanently. This evasion may be com-...
part IIContact and Attrition
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By the beginning of the twenty- first century, a definitive picture was beginning to emerge of indigenous occupations of diverse landscapes in Amazonia. It was becoming clear that the concept of forests that had been altered in terms of their soils and biota by indigenous peoples over hundreds of years was not only plau-sible, but even likely. But when I first set foot in the Amazon, at age twenty- four ...
4People of the Fallow Forest
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Ecological studies oft en presume that the habitats of lowland South Ameri can for-agers are somehow “natural” or pristine. Modern foragers (hunter- gatherers) are etched in anthropological minds as being the few remaining people of the earth who use no agriculture. The underlying assumption is that hunter- gatherers exploit “wild” resources over whose reproduction and distribution human beings have little ...
5Vanishing Plant Names
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We must be very cautious in assuming that elements of culture are so useful or so In Italic (i.e., Latin) the birch reflex shifted to “ash.” . . . The shift to “ash” in Latin, like the total loss in Greek, is oft en thought to have been motivated by the absence of Although a transition from horticultural to foraging society may be seen as far less common than the development of horticulture in a slow process that began with ...
6Conquest and Migration
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The differences in the culture of the vari ous tribes cannot be explained by their living Amazonian environments present human languages with a formidable job: sym-bolic representations of a vast domain of visible, organismic minutiae. If languages adapt to people and their environments—if languages resemble viruses in their re-lationship to people through time (Deacon 1997, 112)—the biological richness of ...
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Ka’apor woman at a government outpost in 1942, with distinctive facial painting design still in use by women and men today (photo by Eduardo Galvão; origi nal photo given to the author The last temporary shelter of Aurê and Aurá; thatching is from babaçu palm (Attalea speciosa Mart. ex Spreng.), called waí in the language spoken by Aurê and Aurá.Babaçu palm (Attalea speciosa Mart. ex Spreng.), a massive, solitary palm frequently found in ...
part IIIIndigenous Savoir Faire
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Traditional knowledge is a fragile phenomenon, as we have seen, in which loss of ag-riculture, attrition in knowledge about plants and animals, disappearance of terms for biota and resources, and even the ability to make fire have occurred among na-tive peoples over time as a result of external contacts and forces. It therefore makes sense to begin to try to understand traditional knowledge in its own living con-...
7From Their Point of View
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Amazonia is that region drained by the Amazon River and its tributaries together with adjacent lowlands. It represents about 4 percent of the earth’s land surface. It is roughly the size of the contiguous forty- eight U.S. states or the island conti- nent of Australia. But Amazonia far exceeds both those comparable regions in terms of the biotic and linguistic diversity of its varied landscapes. Landscapes re-...
8Retention of Traditional Knowledge
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In defining traditional knowledge of any sort, one of the components is age: tra-dition implies antiquity. Traditional ethnobiological knowledge (TEK) in Ama-zonia, for the present purpose, denotes specifically pre- Columbian objects of un der-stand ing that have survived to be documented ethnographically. Borrowings of ethnobiological knowledge by any one ethnic group from non- Amazonian sources ...
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His tori cal ecology is a perspective on relations between people and the environ-ment that, in principle, envisions how his tori cal phenomena transform landscapes and how such transformations become conditioned and understood through local knowledge, behavior, and culture over time. The current state of landscape knowl-edge possessed by folk (caboclo) and indigenous peoples of Amazonia is, in part, ...
part IVDimensions of Diversity
In these two final chapters, I engage the question of biological and ecological diver-sity, where it comes from in specific Amazonian contexts, and how traditional tech-nologies of the past and present can account for it, via an initial premise of human- mediated disturbance of natural habitats. I also suggest that a new approach to understanding ecological dynamics over time in Amazonian forests is called for, ...
10Discernment of Environmental Variation
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This chapter concerns how systems of traditional knowledge (TK) encode and clas-sify the accumulated impacts of the human species on the formation and transfor-mation of Amazonian landscapes over time. The most significant of these impacts resulted from agrarian technologies. Humans have lived in the Amazon re gion for thousands of years. Although debate proceeds apace as to the peopling of South ...
11Rethinking the Landscape
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The preceding pages of this book have made a case for recognition of cultural for-ests in the Amazon Basin. Cultural forests exist, though they have not tended to be categorized by their particular human signature in ecological and biological science. To ignore the human factor in the formation of these forests is not only to discard history, and environmental history in particular, but it also does not ...
Appendi x I. Gua já Generic Plant Names
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English glosses of Guajá plant names are mine. The plant terms in Guajá (left- hand column) are assigned morpheme boundaries. I did not know all these terms, so translations are not given. In many cases, I have used my knowledge of Ka’apor terms to help in glossing a Guajá word, as the plant names, while not identical, follow similar patterns in the two languages. The glosses given in this appendix ...
Appendi x II. Trees of the Anthropogenic Forest (taper)
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These names were elicited by freelisting with a sample of Ka’apor adults (n = 22) and are ranked in order of psychological salience by Smith’s s. Presence (+) or ab-sence (−) in anthropogenic forest (F) or high forest (H) inventories are indicated 58 amangaputir’ i Senna pendula; Cassia fastuosa 2 0.034 −/−...
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Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following for kind permission to reprint Chapter 2. Darrell A. Posey and William Balée (eds.), Resource Management in Amazonia: Indigenous and Folk Strategies. Advances in Economic Botany, vol. 7. Chapter 3. L’Homme 126–128, avr.-déc. 1993, XXXIII (2–4), pp. 231–54.Chapter 4. The Conservation of Neotropical Forests (Kent H. Redford and Christine ...
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Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 14 illustrations
Publication Year: 2013
Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth