Though still a relatively young field, the study of Latin American environmental history is blossoming, as the contributions to this definitive volume demonstrate. Bringing together thirteen leading experts on the region, A Living Past synthesizes a wide range of scholarship to offer new perspectives on environmental change in Latin America and the Spanish Caribbean since the nineteenth century. Each chapter provides insightful, up-to-date syntheses of current scholarship on critical countries and ecosystems (including Brazil, Mexico, the Caribbean, the tropical Andes, and tropical forests) and such cross-cutting themes as agriculture, conservation, mining, ranching, science, and urbanization. Together, these studies provide valuable historical contexts for making sense of contemporary environmental challenges facing the region.
List of Illustrations, Tables, and Figures
List of Maps
Introduction: Finding the “Latin American” in Latin American Environmental History / John Soluri, Claudia Leal, José Augusto Pádua
Chapter 1. Mexico’s Ecological Revolutions / Chris Boyer and Martha Micheline Cariño Olvera
Chapter 2. The Greater Caribbean and the Transformation of Tropicality / Reinaldo Funes Monzote
Chapter 3. Indigenous Imprints and Remnants in the Tropical Andes / Nicolás Cuvi
Chapter 4. The Dilemma of the “Splendid Cradle”: Nature and Territory in the Construction of Brazil / José Augusto Pádua
Chapter 5. From Threatening to Threatened Jungles / Claudia Leal
Chapter 6. The Ivy and the Wall: Environmental Narratives from an Urban Continent / Lise Sedrez and Regina Horta Duarte
Chapter 7. Home Cooking: Campesinos, Cuisine, and Agrodiversity / John Soluri
Chpater 8. Hoofprints: Cattle Ranching and Landscape Transformation / Shawn Van Ausdal and Robert W. Wilcox
Chapter 9. Extraction Stories: Workers, Nature, and Communities in the Mining and Oil Industries / Myrna I. Santiago
Chapter 10. Prodigality and Sustainability: The Environmental Sciences and the Quest for Development / Stuart McCook
Chapter 11. A Panorama of Parks: Deep Nature, Depopulation, and the Cadence of Conserving Nature / Emily Wakild
Epilogue: Latin American Environmental History in Global Perspective / J.R. McNeill
John Soluri is Director of Global Studies at Carnegie Mellon University, where he teaches courses on food, energy, environment, and commodities in Latin America. He is the author of Banana Cultures: Agriculture, Environmental Change, and Consumption in Honduras and the United States (2006).
Claudia Leal is Associate Professor at the Department of History at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. She has studied rainforest regions and the formation of societies after emancipation from slavery. She is currently researching the history of Colombian nature conservation.
José Augusto Pádua is Professor of Environmental History at the Institute of History, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, where he is also coordinator of the Laboratory of History and Nature. From 2010 to 2015, he was President of the Brazilian Association of Research and Graduate Studies on Environment and Society.
"Taken together, the 13 essays that compose this volume provide an excellent introduction to the current state of modern Latin America's environmental history. The volume admirably achieves both major goals established by the editors: to provide a synthesis of recent works in the field and to expose some of the seams and unresolved tensions in the practice of Latin American and Caribbean environmental history. While the volume will be of significant utility to established scholars in the field, graduate students and those new to the terrain of modern Latin America's environmental history are likely to be the greatest beneficiaries. Most of the chapters are also concise and cogent enough to be accessible to advanced undergraduates."
– Hispanic American Historical Review
"Together, these essays stand out for their rich analysis, synthetic quality, and wide-ranging geographies and temporalities. Most of the authors consistently draw comparisons, connections and disjunctures across the region and beyond. Only two take the nation-state as their unit of analysis, but rather than diminishing their value, the authors' choices allow them to rewrite national histories through the lens of environmental politics and the territorialisation of nature as material fact and cultural construction."
– Environment and History
"This collection will prove to be a valuable resource for many. Scholars in environmental humanities and science recognize the challenges in discussing these layered problems in the classroom. This book provides a model going forward in presenting the historical background of current crises. Meanwhile, undergraduate students will benefit from how each chapter situates the question at hand in social, cultural, economic, and political history. Graduate students will appreciate the thorough research outlined in the chapters and in the footnotes. Overall, A Living Past lives up to its name and frames the past as very much alive in the Latin American environment."
– H-Net Reviews
"There is no book out there that matches the scope, detail, and comprehensiveness of A Living Past. Especially for an edited collection of this kind, the consistency and quality of the scholarship are remarkable."
– Shawn Miller, Brigham Young University
"With a refreshing variety of approaches, these essays represent the best of an emerging international network of scholars dedicated to Latin America. Together, they contain not just histories of decline, but a rich diversity of narratives."
– Joachim Radkau, University of Bielefeld