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Latin American Studies Environmental History
by
Myrna Santiago

Introduction

Nature has been part of the Latin American intellectual tradition for over a century. In the second half of the 19th century Argentinian Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (b. 1811–d. 1888), Cuban José Martí (b. 1853–d. 1895), and Brazilian Euclides da Cunha (b. 1866–d. 1909) wrote about the relationship between man and the land and man and nature in Latin America. In the 20th century, a group of academics at the University of California, Berkeley, led by the geographer Carl Sauer published groundbreaking work on historical Latin American landscapes. A second cohort of Berkeley professors, historian Woodrow Borah and entomologist-cum-anthropologist Sherburne F. Cook broke new ground in environmental topics in the 1950s and 1960s, including the demography of the indigenous population of Mexico prior to Spanish colonization. In the 1980s, as the field formally known as environmental history flourished in the United States, historians of Latin America developed the subfield of Latin American environmental history. True to its roots, Latin American environmental history written in English is multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary, as geography, anthropology, science, and history converge in various combinations to produce a diversity of approaches and topics that may seem dispersed but give the field vibrancy. The tendency of the literature in English focuses on the large countries—Brazil, Mexico—meaning that the next generation of scholars has much room to fill. However, there is one thread that runs across the work in Latin American environmental history: a core concern with power relations and social justice as integral dimensions of the study of the relationship between human beings and their environments over time. All societies make environmental history and transform their environments, but not all human beings have the same degree of power in the process and that matters to practitioners of Latin American environmental history. The bibliography that follows is not exhaustive, but it gives the student a basis to start any research project.

General Overviews

Works that synthesize research on Latin American environmental history are rare. In order of publication, Miller 2007 is the only book to bring together the research done to date in a narrative that works as a general textbook, while Sedrez 2008 summarizes a similar narrative in article form. Boyer 2012 synthesizes themes in Mexican environmental history in the first collection to focus solely on one Latin American country, in this case, Mexico.

  • Boyer, Christopher. “The Cycles of Mexican Environmental History.” In A Land Between Waters: Environmental Histories of Modern Mexico. Edited by Christopher R. Boyer, 1–21. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2012.

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    This first chapter of an edited collection provides an introductory synthesis of the environmental history of Mexico with an emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries. It reviews Mexico’s regional geography and how environmental history disrupts any standard political economy periodization, suggesting the field adds considerable complexity to Mexican history and its historiography. Available online by subscription.

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  • Miller, Shawn William. An Environmental History of Latin America. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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    This work synthesizes the research on Latin American environmental history following a standard political chronology. Starting with the pre-Columbian world, it follows ecological changes unleashed by Europeans in the 16th century and examines the opening of ecosystems for development upon independence, ending with a survey of the urban environment, pollution, population growth, and the economic penetration of the most isolated habitats of the continent. Mexico, Brazil, the Caribbean, and Peru receive the most coverage.

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  • Sedrez, Lise F. “Environmental History of Modern Latin America.” In A Companion to Latin American History. Edited by Thomas Holloway, 443–460. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2008.

    DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131612.2008.00026.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This chapter provides an introductory synthesis of the environmental history of Modern Latin America. It includes the following topics: forests, agriculture, urbanization, biotechnology, mineral resources, water, epidemics, science, droughts, floods, earthquakes, and environmentalism.

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Historiographical Articles

The historiographical articles that follow are representative of the concerns scholars have raised about the trends in Latin American environmental history since the 1990s, most of which remain constant. Sluyter 2005 decries the emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries, urging historians to research earlier periods. Carey 2007 highlights the diversity of the field, while Carey 2009 regrets the emphasis on degradation and exploitation, encouraging the research of other topics. Castro Herrera 1997 urges scholars to write histories with contemporary relevance, engaging in a North–South dialogue that includes both areas of the American continent; Brannstrom and Gallini 2004 focuses on geography, commodities, and knowledge as the authors appeal for multi- and interdisciplinary approaches to writing in the field. Dean 1992 highlights the role nature and environment played in the writing of Latin Americans of the 19th century and encourages contemporary historians to follow in the author’s footsteps; while Schmink and Jouve-Martín 2011 outlines the periodization of economic development and conservation across various disciplines concerned with ecology in the 19th and 20th centuries. Palacio 2012 urges historians use a political ecology approach and North–South cooperation to examine the commonalities across the continent.

  • Brannstrom, Christian, and Stefania Gallini, “An Introduction to Latin American Environmental History.” In Territories, Commodities, and Knowledges: Latin American Environmental Histories in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Edited by Christian Brannstrom, 1–22. London: Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2004.

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    Brannstrom and Gallini locate the production of Latin American environmental history in a framework made up of three areas: geographical territories, the production of commodities for export, and knowledge understood as intellectual history in addition to scientific changes and the introduction of new technologies. The authors reject disciplinary straight-jackets in the writing of environmental history and encourage scholars to use multi- and interdisciplinary approaches to the field.

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  • Carey, Mark. “The Nature of Place: Recent Research on Environment and Society in Latin America.” Latin American Research Review 42.3 (2007): 251–264.

    DOI: 10.1353/lar.2007.0033Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Carey reviews a number of books that he argues illustrate the diversity of approaches and topics in the study of the environment by Latin Americanists, including historians. He considers their complexity and breadth to be a salutary trend in the study of imagined environments, physical environments, and built environments. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Carey, Mark. “Latin American Environmental History: Current Trends, Interdisciplinary Insights, and Future Directions.” Environmental History 14.2 (April 2009): 221–252.

    DOI: 10.1093/envhis/14.2.221Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Carey argues that Latin American environmental historians have focused on matters of degradation and exploitation and suggests that broadening the field to include areas such as science, cultural landscapes, disasters and others would enrich the historiography. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Castro Herrera, Guillermo. “The Environmental Crisis and the Tasks of History in Latin America.” Environment and History 3.1 (February 1997): 1–18.

    DOI: 10.3197/096734097779555971Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This review by Panamanian philosopher Castro Herrera urges historians of Latin America to develop the field of environmental history as a pressing task for the entire region to understand better our contemporary ecological crisis. He proposes Latin Americanists engage in simultaneous dialogues: with their own unique societies and with scholars doing North American environmental histories, without losing sight of the world-system that encompasses everyone. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Dean, Warren. “The Tasks of Latin American Environmental History.” In Changing Tropical Forests: Historical Perspectives in Today’s Challenges in Central and South America; Proceedings of a Conference Sponsored by the Forest History Society and IUFRO Foresty History Group. Edited by Harold K. Steen and Richard P. Tucker, 5–15. Durham, NC: Forest History Society, 1992.

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    Dean reviews what he called “engaged history” done by Latin Americanists since the 19th century, highlighting the role nature and environmental issues played in their writings. He encourages historians of Latin America to see the environmental as “the central issue in human history” and develop the field.

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  • Sluyter, Andrew. “Recentism in Environmental History on Latin America.” Environmental History 10.1 (January 2005): 91–93.

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    Sluyter argues that despite the breath of topics Latin American environmental history addresses, the historiography leans heavily toward the 19th and 20th centuries. He encourages historians to pay more attention to the pre-colonial and colonial eras to understand more fully the 19th and 20th centuries. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Palacio, Germán. “An Eco-Political Vision for an Environmental History: Toward a Latin American and North American Research Partnership.” Environmental History 17.4 (October 2012): 725–743.

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    This Colombian historian proposes that historians use a political ecology approach to writing environmental history and urges collaboration between Latin Americanists and Americanists doing environmental history to yield a productive research agenda that would demonstrate that the two regions have much more in common historically than heretofore assumed. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Schmink, Marianne, and José Jouve-Martín. “Editors’ Foreword: Contemporary Debates on Ecology, Society, and Culture in Latin America.” Special Issue: Contemporary Debates on Ecology, Society, and Culture in Latin America. Edited by Marianne Schmink and José Jouve-Martín. Latin American Research Review 46 (2011): 3–10.

    DOI: 10.1353/lar.2011.0036Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this special issue on ecology, the editors of the volume outline the periodization of economic development in Latin America, mapping out “the paradigms of conservation” generally encountered in the 19th and 20th centuries as the context for new approaches to environmental questions coming from various disciplines, including history. Available online by subscription.

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Data Sources

The Online Bibliography on Latin American Environmental History is a multilingual list of scholarly articles, books, and dissertations on historical topics related to nature sent to the webmaster by authors and students. It is edited sporadically. Ambiente & Sociedade is a Brazilian journal dedicated to scholarship on environmental topics from all the social sciences, including history. The Universidad de los Andes hosts the website for the Sociedad Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Historia Ambiental, the professional association of Latin Americanists doing environmental history throughout the Americas.

The Americas

Crosby 1972 pioneered environmental history with the author’s examination of the pathogens, plants, and animals exchanged among Europe, Africa, and Asia and the American continent after 1492. Alchon 2003 synthesizes the research on epidemics and their long-term effects on indigenous populations across the continent.

  • Alchon, Suzanne Austin. A Pest in the Land: New World Epidemics in a Global Perspective. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2003.

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    This monograph synthesizes the research about epidemics in North, Central and South America, integrating it to colonialism to explain why native populations did not recover in comparison to other peoples of the world did historically. It includes indigenous and European reactions to epidemics, health services, and a review of the debate over American demography prior to 1492.

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  • Crosby Alfred W., Jr. The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492. Wesport, CT: Greenwood, 1972.

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    The author documents the biological exchanges that took place between the Americas and the Old World after 1492. He includes the pathogens, flora, and fauna that migrated into the Americas, displacing local species and introducing epidemics. He explores the debate about the origins of syphilis and the long-term and global consequences of all the exchanges.

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The Andes

Dore 2000 summarizes the history of mining and its effects on environment and labor from the colonial era until the present from a Marxist perspective, placing special emphasis on Bolivia, Peru, and Mexico but also includes Chile, Venezuela, Brazil, and Jamaica in the 20th century. Gade 1997 is an article in historical geography that focuses on the items indigenous peoples from Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru adopted from the Spanish in the aftermath of the demographic collapse of the Conquest to form new, hybrid cultures. Robins 2011 explores the history of mining for mercury and silver in Peru and Bolivia and the environmental and health effects of both. See also Cook 1998 (cited under Mexico: Disease) for a history of epidemic disease brought by the Spanish first to the Caribbean then Mexico and the Andes.

  • Dore, Elizabeth. “Environment and Society: Long-Term Trends in Latin American Mining.” Environment and History 6.1 (February 2000): 1–29.

    DOI: 10.3197/096734000129342208Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article is a Marxist analysis of mining in Latin America from the colonial era until the present, which examines how capitalist development affects environment and labor. The author begins with silver mining in colonial Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia. In the post-independence period, she focuses on nitrates, copper, oil, and tin extracted in Chile, Bolivia, and Peru and ends with 20th-century copper, iron, and bauxite mining in Venezuela, Jamaica, and Brazil. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Gade, Daniel W. “Landscape, System, and Identity in the Post-Conquest Andes.” In Agriculture, Resource Exploitation, and Environmental Change. Edited by Helen Wheatley, 29–46. An Expanding World: The European Impact on World History 1450–1800 17. Hampshire, UK: Variorum, 1997.

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    This article in historical geography includes agricultural products, animals, technologies and tools, and styles of architecture that indigenous peoples of the Andres selected from the Spanish after the demographic collapse of the conquest. As a result, they created new, hybrid native cultures. Also appears in Annals of the Association of American Geographers 82.3 (September 1992): 460–477.

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  • Robins, Nicholas A. Mercury, Mining, and Empire: The Human and Ecological Cost of Colonial Silver Mining in the Andes. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011.

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    The author ties the mercury mined in Huancavelinca, Peru, to the silver extracted in Potosí, Bolivia, focusing on the health effects of both in both locations and the pollution and environmental destruction wrought by both activities. Massive mercury poisoning, mental illness, lack of occupational safety in the mines, and forced labor combined with epidemic disease to devastate Andean indigenous peoples during the colonial period and beyond.

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Argentina

Aagesen 1998 is an article of historical geography that traces the history of the monkey puzzle tree since Spanish colonization. Healey 2011 documents the political aftermath of the 1944 earthquake that destroyed the city of San Juan, Argentina. Writing from an economic history perspective, Zarilli 2001 critiques the capitalist agricultural model that produced the economic boom in the Argentinean pampas as environmentally destructive.

  • Aagesen, David. “On the Northern Fringe of the South American Temperate Forest: The History and Conservation of the Monkey-Puzzle Tree.” Environmental History 3.1 (January 1998): 64–85.

    DOI: 10.2307/3985427Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article documents the uses and depletion of the monkey puzzle tree in Chile and Argentina from the pre-Colombian period until its designation as a vulnerable species by the Chilean government in 1985. Despite protective legislation in both countries, the timber industry continues to use unsustainable practices. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Healey, Mark A. The Ruins of the New Argentina: Peronism and the Remaking of San Juan After the 1944 Earthquake. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011.

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    Focusing on the local development of Peronism, the book documents the conflicts over reconstruction and construction materials that followed the earthquake that leveled the city of San Juan in northwestern Argentina in 1944 and that brought national prominence to General Juan Perón.

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  • Zarilli, Adrían Gustavo. “Capitalism, Ecology, and Agrarian Expansion in the Pampean Region, 1890–1950.” Environmental History 6.4 (October 2001): 561–583.

    DOI: 10.2307/3985255Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The article faults the capitalist agricultural production model used in the pampas for the ecological degradation made obvious in the 1950s, despite and because of the boom in the sector between the 1890s and the 1930s. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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The Atlantic World

Carney and Rosomoff 2009 document the African influence in culinary practices in slave-holding states in the Atlantic World, while Curtin 2001 traces the origins, transmission, and epidemiology of diseases linking Africa and the American Atlantic during the colonial period. McNeill 2007 analyzes the geopolitical impact of yellow fever in European imperial competition in the Atlantic World and American independence struggles.

  • Carney, Judith A., and Richard Nicholas Rosomoff. In the Shadow of Slavery: Africa’s Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.

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    The book documents how African food staples, herbs, grasses, and their methods of cultivation reshaped botany and introduced new culinary practices to the Americas. The areas that felt the most impact from African crops, animals, and cooking styles were the Caribbean, Brazil, and the southern United States.

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  • Curtin, Philip D. “Disease Exchange Across the Tropical Atlantic.” In Migration and Mortality in Africa and the Atlantic World, 1700–1900. Edited by Philip D. Curtin, 425–452. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate/Variorum, 2001.

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    This article follows the most important diseases brought from Africa to the Americas, including yaws, intestinal parasites, malaria, yellow fever, and relapsing fever in addition to the devastating health consequences of the exchange. Also appears in History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 15.3 (1993): 329–356.

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  • McNeill, J. R. “Yellow Jack and Geopolitics: Environment, Epidemics, and the Struggles for Empire in the American Tropics, 1640–1830.” In Rethinking Environmental History: World-System History and Global Enviromental Change. Edited by Alf Hornborg, J. R. McNeill, and Joan Martínez-Alier, 199–217. Lanham, MD: AltaMira, 2007.

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    This article documents how the sugar industry Europeans built in tropical America after 1640 created ecological conditions that allowed the mosquito that carries yellow fever to flourish and attack European invading armies trying to encroach on the Spanish empire and, in the 19th century, trying to crush local independence movements. In both cases, yellow fever favored local armies already seasoned by the disease.

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Barbados

Handler, et al. 1987 use a historical archaeological approach to determine that a mysterious mortal stomach ache common among enslaved Africans in Barbados was lead poisoning.

  • Handler, Jerome S., Arthur C. Aufderheide, Robert S. Corrucini, Elizabeth M. Brandon, and Lorentz E. Wittmers Jr. “Lead Contact and Poisoning in Barbados Slaves: Historical, Chemical, and Biological Evidence.” In The African Exchange: Toward a Biological History of Black People. Edited by Kenneth F. Kiple, 140–166. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1987.

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    This article investigates what caused severe and deadly stomach aches among Barbadian slaves the 17th and 18th centuries. Analysis of skeletal remains revealed the men died of lead poisoning, mostly likely from contaminated rum.

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Belize

Johnson 2003 is an article in historical anthropology that examines how British colonial discourse constructed racial categories for the population of British Honduras, identifying different groups with specific ecological niches.

  • Johnson, Melissa A. “The Making of Race and Place in Nineteenth-Century British Honduras.” Environmental History 8.4 (October 2003): 598–617.

    DOI: 10.2307/3985885Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    British colonial discursive constructs created an identity for slaves (creoles) as lumbermen adverse to agriculture by nature in keeping with the most important economic activity of 19th-century British Honduras, mahogany logging. The myth of the black lumberman became the foundational myth of independent Belize and affected their role in the agricultural economy of the country. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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Bolivia

Cote 2011 examines the role that oil extraction played in both separating and uniting the highlands and eastern lowlands of Bolivia in the early 20th century, eventually provoking the nationalization of the industry. See also Robins 2011 (cited under Andes) for an exploration of the environmental and health effects of mining in Bolivia during the colonial era and Radding 2005 (cited under Borderlands) for a comparative study of how the Sonoran desert peoples of Mexico and the tropical forest peoples of Chiquitos in Bolivia forged new identities under circumstances of profound social, cultural, and political change between the colonial period and the mid-19th century. See also Dore 2000 (cited under Andes) for an analysis of mining in Latin America and its effects on environment and labor from the colonial era until the present, which includes Bolivia.

Brazil

Brazilian environmental history is broad ranging in the topics it covers. However, certain themes stand out in subcategories that can be classified as follows: Amazonia, conservation, deforestation, disease, energy, intellectual history, national parks, ranching, rubber, and sugar. Some overlap occurs in the subcategories, but the larger themes hold. Amazonia gathers works focused on that geographical and ecological area as the principal unit of analysis. Conservation annotates the works whose primary focus is that particular theme. Deforestation includes research on forests and their destruction. Disease and Energy focus on those individual topics exclusively. Intellectual history annotates research on Brazilian and European thought and discourse about nature and ecology. Parks highlights work on the creation of Brazilian national parks and other protected areas. Ranching, Rubber, and Sugar all collect works on the environmental consequences and histories of each type of economic activity.

Amazonia

Cleary 2001 provides an overview of the forces that shaped Amazonia since humans first settled the region.

  • Cleary, David. “Towards an Environmental History of the Amazon: From Prehistory to the Nineteenth Century.” Latin American Research Review 36.2 (2001): 64–96.

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    The article traces the history of Amazonia from the earliest human settlement until the 1850s. In that period Amazonia underwent a transition from wilderness to landscape, the land modified by indigenous people and then Portuguese colonialism. The cycle repeated itself in the 19th century as colonists penetrated Amazonia, contacted and depopulated isolated communities, but also allowing for limited forest regeneration. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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Conservation

Dean 1985 documents Brazilian conservation policies during the first half of the 20th century. Delson and Dickerson 1984 focuses on direct conservation efforts undertaken by Brazilian authorities from the colonial period into the 1970s. Miller 2000 faults monopolistic colonial economic policies for the destruction of the Brazilian rainforest without concomitant capital accumulation of any importance.

  • Dean, Warren. “Forest Conservation in Southeastern Brazil, 1900–1955.” Environmental Review 9.1 (Spring 1985): 54–69.

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    The article follows attempts at conservation in the first half of the 20th century, tracing legislation between 1904 and 1934 and the creation of national parks and forest reserves. It includes the destruction of the reserves in the 1950s. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Delson, Roberta M., and John Dickerson, “Conservation Tendencies in Colonial and Imperial Brazil: An Alternative Perspective on Human Relationships to the Land.” Special Issue: International Dimensions of Environmental History. Edited by J. Donald Hughes. Environmental Review 8.3 (Autumn 1984): 270–283.

    DOI: 10.2307/3984326Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors focus on repeated, albeit failed, efforts by Brazilian authorities to conserve natural resources throughout history, including the Portuguese Crown, Imperial functionaries and, since the 1970s, government ministers. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Miller, Shawn William. Fruitless Trees: Portuguese Conservation and Brazil’s Colonial Timber. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000.

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    The book argues that neither the colonists nor the Portuguese crown obtained economic gains from the destruction of the forest due to monopolist economic policies under the assumption that free trade would lead to capital accumulation. The author analyzes the role of coerced and slave labor in the process and the techniques and technologies involved and the cost of shipping.

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Deforestation

Brannstrom 2004 proposes that researchers utilize methodologies from geography such as sediment analysis to inform debates over deforestation and environmental policy. Dean 1983 documents the history of deforestation in southeastern Brazil since Portuguese colonization through the coffee boom at the end of the 19th century, while Dean 1995 focuses on the destruction of Brazil’s Atlantic forest from the first human settlements until the early 1990s. McNeill 1986 traces the successive waves of economic activity that account for the destruction of forests from colonialism through the 20th century, while McNeill 1988 focuses on the elimination of the araucaria pine tree in southern Brazil in the 20th century. Padua 2010 argues that Portuguese colonialism established a multifactor system of exploitation that account for the deforestation of Brazil since the 1500s.

  • Brannstrom, Christian. “Talking to Sediments: Reading Environmental History from Post-Settlement Alluvium in Western São Paulo, Brazil.” In Territories, Commodities, and Knowledges: Latin American Environmental Histories in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Edited by Christian Brannstrom, 171–194. London: Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2004.

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    The author argues the geographer’s tool of sediment analysis can recreate the environmental history of land use and vegetation and inform environmental policy debates. Using two case studies in western São Paulo, the Mandaguari Creek and the Almoço Creek, the author shows how sediment analysis can complement or challenge the written record to reconstruct land use and deforestation over time.

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  • Dean, Warren. “Deforestation in Southeastern Brazil.” In Global Deforestation and the 19th Century World Economy. Edited by Richard P. Tucker and J. F. Richards, 50–67. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1983.

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    This article focuses on the deforestation of Espíritu Santo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, and São Paulo from the pre-Columbian period through the 19th century. Portuguese colonialism inaugurated clear cutting for an export-based extractive economy that meant unprecedented deforestation. Sugar cane, gold prospecting, and mining followed suit, but it was coffee that doomed forests at the turn of the century.

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  • Dean, Warren. With Broadax and Firebrand: The Destruction of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

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    The book documents the destruction of the Atlantic forest over the longue durèe, from the first human inhabitants until the early 1990s. The author highlights agricultural practices, population, growth, technology, colonialism, urbanization, industrialization, and capitalism as the major factors involved, with attention given to conservation attempts as well as scientific and economic debates surrounding the issue of environmental destruction and its consequences.

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  • McNeill, John R. “Agriculture, Forests, and Ecological History: Brazil, 1500–1984.” Environmental History Review 10.2 (Summer 1986): 122–133.

    DOI: 10.2307/3984562Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article focuses on the deforestation of Brazil since 1500, highlighting the economic activities driving the process. The chronology that McNeill illuminates includes dyewood extraction, sugar plantations, gold mining, coffee, cattle ranching, and food crops, all of which started on the coast and moved inland. In the 1950s, cattle ranching joined the list, threatening the Amazon. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • McNeill, J. R. “Deforestation in the Araucaria Zone of Southern Brazil, 1900–1983.” In World Deforestation in the Twentieth Century. Edited by John F. Richards and Richard P. Tucker, 15–32. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1988.

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    This article focuses on the permanent elimination of the araucaria pine tree in Paraná, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul since 1930. Agriculture, timber production, and forest fires account for the destruction of the trees, coupled with ineffective forest policies in general.

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  • Pádua, José Augusto. “European Colonialism and Tropical Forest Destruction in Brazil: Environment Beyond Economic History.” In Environmental History: As if Nature Existed. Edited by John R. McNeill, José Augusto Pádua, and Mahesh Rangarajan, 130–148. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

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    The article examines the multiple parts that comprised the system of exploitation established by colonialism in Brazil and accelerated in the 19th and 20th centuries. The main components were utilitarian ideas about nature, inappropriate technologies for tropical ecologies, the idea of the forest as an inexhaustible frontier, and the availability of an abundant and tightly controlled labor force.

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Disease

Aldenm and Miller 1987 investigate the origins and dissemination of smallpox in Brazil during the colonial and imperial periods.

  • Aldenm, Dauril, and Joseph C. Miller, “Unwanted Cargoes: The Origins and Dissemination of Smallpox via the Slave Trade from Africa to Brazil, c. 1560–1830.” In The African Exchange: Toward a Biological History of Black People. Edited by Kenneth F. Kiple, 35–109. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1987.

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    The article correlates events in Africa with outbreaks of disease in Brazil. During the Brazilian colonial period, malnutrition, and disease in Africa left people vulnerable to slavery. That meant Africans brought to Brazil quite likely carried small pox. Their introduction to the hinterlands exposed indigenous people to epidemics. By the 19th century, small pox slackened as the British interfered with the slave trade and inoculation gained ground in Angola, Mozambique, and Brazil.

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Energy

Brannstorm 2005 traces the sources of energy used in the industrialization of Sáo Paulo, challenging the notion that wood was the main one.

  • Brannstorm, Christian. “Was Brazilian Industrialisation Fuelled by Wood? Evaluating the Wood Hypothesis, 1900–1960.” Environment and History 11.4 (November 2005): 395–430.

    DOI: 10.3197/096734005774462727Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An article on the history of energy, this text questions Warren Dean’s claim that the industrialization of Sâo Paulo relied on wood and charcoal for its fuel needs during the first half of the 20th century. The author finds coal, oil, and hydroelectricity were also important sources for different sectors of the city’s economy. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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Intellectual History

De Andrade Franco and Drummond 2008 is the first of a series of two articles by these authors that documents the history of environmental thought in Brazil in the 20th century. It focuses on the intellectual biographies of four conservationists active between the 1920s and 1940s. De Andrade Franco and Drummond 2009, the second article, focuses on the 1934 conference on nature protection that founded Brazil’s modern environmental movement. Duarte 2004 analyzes European ideas about the Brazilian tropical forest as revealed in 19th-century travel literature. Padua 2000 is an intellectual history focusing on Brazilian environmental thought at the end of the colonial period, 1786–1810. De Oliveira and Winiwarter 2010 examines agricultural manuals produced in Brazil to understand how Europeans acquired knowledge about local ecologies from 1711 to 1860.

  • de Andrade Franco, José Luiz, and José Augusto Drummond. “Wilderness and the Brazilian Mind (I): Nature and Nation in Brazil from the 1920s to the 1940s.” Environmental History 13.4 (October 2008): 724–750.

    DOI: 10.1093/envhis/13.4.724Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article rescues the intellectual biographies and environmental thought of four scientists and conservationists active between the 1920s and the 1940s. The men were Alberto José Sampaio, a botanist; Armando Magalhães Corrêa, an artist, scientific illustrator, and naturalist; Cándido de Mello Leitão, a doctor and zoologist; and Frederico Carlos Hoehne, a botanist. The article reviews their major works and ideas. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • de Andrade Franco, José Luiz, and José Augusto Drummond. “Wilderness and the Brazilian Mind (II): The First Brazilian Conference on Nature Protection (Rio de Janeiro, 1934).” Environmental History 14.1 (January 2009): 82–102.

    DOI: 10.1093/envhis/14.1.82Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This text examines the 1934 conference on nature protection that took place in Rio de Janeiro, which the authors consider the founding of Brazil’s modern environmentalism. The article summarizes the proceedings, including information about the participants and their motivations and ideological proclivities and the topics covered at the conference. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • de Oliveira, Rogerio Ribeiro and Vera Winiwarter. “Toiling in Paradise: Knowledge Acquisition in the Context of Colonial Agriculture in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest.” Environment and History, 16.4 (November 2010): 483–508.

    DOI: 10.3197/096734010X531506Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article analyzes agricultural manuals produced in Brazil to understand European acquisition of knowledge about local conditions from 1711 to 1860. A partial reprint of a 1711 manual published in 1798 shows its Jesuit author saw the forest as inexhaustible, while an agricultural encyclopedia published in 1798–1806 was highly critical of Brazilian farmers and denounced the destruction of the Atlantic forest. The authors also expressed concerns about soil erosion, fertility, and exhaustion, and the lack of use of fertilizers, and preservation of species, a trend that lasted into 1860. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Duarte, Regina Horta. “Facing the Forest: European Travellers Crossing the Mucuri River Valley, Brazil, in the Nineteenth Century.” Environment and History 10.1 (February 2004): 31–58.

    DOI: 10.3197/096734004772444405Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article looks at European explorer travel literature to explore the history of the Mucuri River Valley in Minas Gerais during the 19th century and explorers’ ideas about the incompatibility of the tropical forest with civilization. That ideology became justification for the destruction of the Atlantic forest, including its inhabitants, the Botocudos, and that it might be replaced with colonists and plantations. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Pádua, José Augusto. “‘Annihilating National Productions’: Nature’s Economy, Colonial Crisis and the Origins of Brazilian Political Environmentalism.” Environment and History 6.3 (August 2000): 255–287.

    DOI: 10.3197/096734000129342307Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This intellectual history focuses on Brazilian environmental thought at the end of the colonial period, 1786–1810. A generation of men, some nurtured by the Italian intellectual Domenico Vandelli, including famous independence leaders José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva and Rodrigo de Sousa Coutinho, developed a critique of colonial environmental policies. They saw environmental destruction as the result of rudimentary technologies and thus proposed conservation and modernization as solutions. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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Parks

Drummond 1996 documents the history of the creation of Tijuca National Park in Rio De Janeiro in the 19th century, while Drummond, et al. 2009 explains the creation of the different types of protected areas between 1896 and 2000.

  • Drummond, José Augusto. “The Garden in the Machine: An Environmental History of Brazil’s Tijuca Forest.” Environmental History 1.1 (January 1996): 83–105.

    DOI: 10.2307/3985065Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The article documents the history of the Tijuca National Park, which is inside the city of Rio de Janeiro. This section of the Atlantic forest became threatened in the mid-18th century as a result of population growth and the introduction of coffee plantations. Drought and water shortages in the first half of the 1800s led the king to decree the conservation of the trees and replanting, with the park officially decreed as such in 1874. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Drummond, José Augusto, José Luiz de Andrade Franco, and Alessandra Bortoni Ninis. “Brazilian Federal Conservation Units: A Historical Overview of Their Creation and of Their Current Status.” Environment and History 15.4 (November 2009): 463–491.

    DOI: 10.3197/096734009X12532652872036Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article reviews the history of the creation of protected areas in Brazil. The first state park was created in 1896, but none followed until the late 1930s, when two more were added. Two more were established in 1959 and 1961, with the latter drowned by a dam in 1980. Since the 1970s there has been a proliferation in the creation of protected areas under nearly a dozen categories. The distribution of the areas, however, is uneven and most lack resources for proper functioning. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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Ranching

Wilcox 1999 writes a history of how Mato Grosso became the center of cattle ranching in Brazil, and Wilcox 2004 focuses on the history of cattle breeding in the same location.

  • Wilcox, Robert W. “‘The Law of the Least Effort’: Cattle Ranching and the Environment in the Savanna of Mato Grosso, Brazil, 1900–1980.” Environmental History 4.3 (July 1999): 338–368.

    DOI: 10.2307/3985131Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article summarizes the environmental history of cattle ranching in Mato Grosso, which began during the First World War. The cerrado (savanna) grasses made it attractive for ranching, and yet the practice of burning the grasses, coupled with over pasturing, led to degradation of soils, the proliferation of woody species and cattle pests, hurt wildlife, and increased erosion. The solution was the introduction of exotic grasses, which led to further degradation. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Wilcox, Robert W. “Zebu’s Elbows: Cattle Breeding and the Environment in Central Brazil, 1890–1960.” In Territories, Commodities, and Knowledges: Latin American Environmental Histories in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Edited by Christian Brannstrom, 218–246. London: Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2004.

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    This article focuses on the history of cattle breeding in Matto Grosso, Brazil. The author documents the heated debates over the introduction of Zebu cattle from India into the region and the changes into the cerrado ecosystem that the idea entailed.

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Rubber

Dean 2002 investigates why rubber plantations, including Henry Ford’s, failed to thrive in the Amazon and concludes that the reasons were ecological.

  • Dean, Warren. Brazil and the Struggle for Rubber: A Study in Environmental History. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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    A history of rubber cultivation, this monograph examines efforts to develop rubber plantations in Brazil beginning in the late 19th century. They failed because in their native habitat, the rubber trees, are attacked by a fungus if they grow in close proximity. In the late 1920s the American automobile manufacturer, Henry Ford poured countless millions into his plantation, Fordlandia, to no avail. Neither capital nor the latest technological and scientific know-how could stop the blight that destroyed plantation trees. Originally published in 1987.

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Sugar

Rogers 2010 writes an environmental and labor history of sugar in Pernambuco from colonial times until the 1970s.

  • Rogers, Thomas D. The Deepest Wounds: A Labor and Environmental History of Sugar in Northeast Brazil. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.

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    This text examines how Brazilian elites and the plantation labor force, both slave and free, saw the land they transformed from forest into sugar plantations until the Great Depression. The book then follows the ecological and social changes wrought by the modernization of the sugar industry between 1930 and 1963, including labor unrest and the insertion of state bureaucracy into Pernambuco’s sugar economy between 1964 and 1979.

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Caribbean

Kiple 1984 writes a medical and biological history of slavery in the English-speaking Caribbean during the colonial period including disease, nutrition, and mortality. McCook 2002 focuses on the history of science in the greater Caribbean, defined as Cuba, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Venezuela, and Colombia between 1740 and the Second World War. McCook 2011 argues that the introduction of commodities for export in the 18th century and beyond constitute a neo-Columbian exchange in the Caribbean. McNeill 2010 examines the role that yellow fever and malaria played in wars and empires in the Caribbean islands, Colombia, Venezuela, French Guyana, northeastern Brazil, and the southern United States between 1620 and 1914. Mulcahy 2006 writes the history of hurricanes and their social and political effects in the British Caribbean and South Carolina until the United States won its independence in 1783. Richardson 1997 describes the English-speaking Caribbean during the 1880–1900 depression from the point of view of human geography, while Richardson 2004 is a historical geography of the use of fire in the Lesser Antilles from 1885 to 1910. Smith 2012 does a comparative study of the effects of the 1831 hurricane on St. Vincent and Barbados. See also Cook 1998 (cited under Disease) for a history of epidemic disease brought by the Spanish to the Caribbean before exposing the Aztecs and the Inca.

  • Kiple, Kenneth F. The Caribbean Slave: A Biological History. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1984.

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    This biohistory explores the diseases, nutrition, mortality, and immunities of enslaved Africans in the English-speaking Caribbean during the colonial period. The author includes the conditions that women and children faced, accounting for low fertility rates among slaves and high infant and child mortality. Immunities to Old World disease explain why slaves eventually outnumbered whites yet also reinforced European racism.

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  • McCook, Stuart. States of Nature: Science, Agriculture, and Environment in the Spanish Caribbean, 1760–1940. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002.

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    The text analyzes the relationships among agriculture, botanical science, economic development, nature, and political power from the Bourbon Reforms of 18th-century Spain through the liberal regimes of independent Latin America (Costa Rica, Venezuela, Colombia) and United States dependencies (Cuba, Puerto Rico). The author examines how elites sought a nature useful for nation building and understood science as a tool for empire and, later, for liberal development, encouraging the creation of a local (creole) science.

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  • McCook, Stuart. “The Neo-Columbian Exchange: The Second Conquest of the Greater Caribbean, 1720–1930.” Special Issue: Contemporary Debates on Ecology, Society, and Culture in Latin America. Edited by Marianne Schmink and José Jouve-Martín. Latin American Research Review 46 (2011): 11–31.

    DOI: 10.1353/lar.2011.0038Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The article argues that neo-Columbian exchanges took place from 1720 until the Great Depression, driven not only by colonialism but also by commodity-led development. They encompassed not only Europe and Africa but also Asia and the Pacific and included coffee, bananas, cinchona trees, zebu cattle, and accidental pests. This exchange was made possible by improved transportation technologies and botanical gardens. Available online by subscription.

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  • McNeill, J. R. Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620–1914. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511811623Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This monograph explores the role that yellow fever and malaria played in wars and empires in the Caribbean islands, Colombia, Venezuela, French Guyana, northeastern Brazil, and the southern United States over nearly three centuries. The author explores the deadly role that the mosquito played in maintaining the Spanish empire by decimating encroaching armies. Similarly, McNeill details the role that disease played in favor of the patriot cause during the wars for independence.

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  • Mulcahy, Matthew. Hurricanes and Society in the British Greater Caribbean, 1624–1783. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2006.

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    This history of hurricanes in the British Caribbean and South Carolina until American independence in 1783 documents their effects on slaves, plantations, shipping calendars, and architecture. It highlights the shifting cultural interpretations of hurricanes among the colonists and the emergence of a culture of sensibility among the English middle classes, which led to systematic post-disaster relief efforts.

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  • Richardson, Bonham C. Economy and Environment in the Caribbean: Barbados and the Windwards in the late 1800s. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1997.

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    This text is a snapshot of the English-speaking Caribbean during the 1880–1900 depression from the point of view of human geography. It is based on the 1897 report of the royal commission that investigated the downturn. It looks at the roles that climate, water, geography, plant disease, deforestation, and drought played in the depression, showing how the report led the British to keep Barbados as a sugar island while encouraging others to develop societies of small proprietors, thus reinforcing fragmentation among islanders.

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  • Richardson, Bonham C. Igniting the Caribbean’s Past: Fire in British West Indian History. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

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    A historical geography of the uses of fire in the Lesser Antilles from 1885 to 1910, this book describes the destructiveness of accidental fires and arson in urban areas as well as fires used in festivals, fires to clear the forest for sugar cane or to destroy planters’ property, and fires used in production. The book includes a history of fire fighting in Trinidad and other islands and the use of fire as protest in St. Kitts, Trinidad, and St. Lucia.

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  • Smith, S. D. “Storm Hazard and Slavery: The Impact of the 1831 Great Caribbean Hurricane on St. Vincent.” Environment and History 18.1 (February 2012): 97–123.

    DOI: 10.3197/096734012X13225062753660Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article compares the impact of the 1831 hurricane on the islands of St. Vincent and Barbados, reviewing the vulnerabilities of both in light of different theories about disasters. St. Vincent suffered extensive material damage but few human casualties, while Barbados did the opposite. In neither case did the disaster have an effect on emancipation. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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Central America

Marquardt 2001 focuses on United Fruit’s responses to the outbreak of Panama disease at its Costa Rica and Panama banana plantations at the turn of the century. Myers and Tucker 1987 describes the main causes of deforestation in Central America from the Spanish colony through the 1970s. Soluri 2002 examines the relationship between American taste for bananas and Panama disease in Central America in the 20th century. Tucker 2007 condenses a much longer study in the history of commodities and the effects of United States’ demand on forest ecologies throughout the world since the Second World War. This edition highlights Latin America in the 20th century.

  • Marquardt, Steve. “‘Green Havoc’: Panama Disease, Environmental Change, and Labor Process in the Central American Banana Industry.” American Historical Review 106.1 (February 2001): 49–80.

    DOI: 10.2307/2652224Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article analyzes how the United Fruit Company responded to the outbreak of Panama disease at its banana plantations in Panama and Costa Rica. In the mid-1890s, a fungus led the company to reorganize production to fight the disease by exerting more control over the workers. Failing to stop the disease through flooding and scientific experimentation, including deadly fungicides, the company abandoned many plantations and acquired additional land in Honduras and Guatemala to start the cycle there. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Myers, Norman, and Richard Tucker. “Deforestation in Central America: Spanish Legacy and North American Consumers.” Environmental Review 11.1 (Spring 1987): 55–71.

    DOI: 10.2307/3984219Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The article describes the main causes of deforestation in Central America from the colony through the 1970s. The text looks at colonial commodities such as indigo, sugar, and cacao; 19th-century sugar, coffee, and bananas; and expansion of cotton and cattle ranching in the 20th century. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Soluri, John. “Accounting for Taste: Export Bananas, Mass Markets, and Panama Disease.” Environmental History 7.3 (July 2002): 386–404.

    DOI: 10.2307/3985915Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The article argues that two factors accounted for banana disease in Central America since the 1890s. The first was the agroecology of monocrop agriculture that utilized only one fruit variety, making the crop vulnerable to disease. The second was the creation of a mass market for that single variety in the United States, which the companies refused to change fearing consumer rejection until disease forced a switch to another variety in the 1960s, with another marketing campaign featuring Carmen Miranda. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Tucker, Richard P. Insatiable Appetite: The United States and the Ecological Degradation of the Tropical World. Rev. ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007.

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    This book examines the ecological effects of United States’ demand for commodities grown in the tropical forests of Latin America, particularly Central America, in the 20th century. The author examines one product per chapter, including sugar, bananas, coffee, rubber, beef, and timber.

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Chile

Soluri 2011 documents the rise and decline of Chilean salmon farms at the end of the 20th century, comparing them to plantation agriculture and questioning the notion of sustainability. See also Aagesen 1998 (cited under Argentina) for a historical geography article on the monkey puzzle tree in Chile and Dore 2000 (cited under Andes) for a history of Latin American mining and its effects on environment and labor from the colonial era until the present, which includes Chile.

  • Soluri, John. “Something Fishy: Chile’s Blue Revolution, Commodity Diseases, and the Problem of Sustainability.” Special Issue: Contemporary Debates on Ecology, Society, and Culture in Latin America. Edited by Marianne Schmink and José Jouve-Martín. Latin American Research Review 46 (2011): 55–81.

    DOI: 10.1353/lar.2011.0042Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article traces the rise and decline of Chile’s salmon farms between 1980 and 2010. Comparing the salmon farms to Central American banana plantations, the author identifies similar problems: an ideal environment for diseases and a labor force exposed to health hazards. The question becomes, then, whether production for capital accumulation can be sustainable. Available online by subscription.

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Costa Rica

Evans 1999 addresses the relationship between rapid deforestation in Costa Rica in the 20th century and the growth of its park system and conservation policies. Marquardt 2002 focuses on the health and social effects of pesticides in Costa Rican United Fruit banana plantations between 1931 and 1962.

  • Evans, Sterling. The Green Republic: A Conservation History of Costa Rica. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1999.

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    This monograph addresses the relationship among deforestation, national parks, and conservation in 20th-century Costa Rica. The authors focuses on the actors that created parks and protected areas,, the role the Forestry Law of 1969 in institutionalizing conservation and environmental education on a national scale, the rise of ecotourism, and the creation of research institutions.

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  • Marquardt, Steve. “Pesticides, Parakeets, and Unions in the Costa Rican Banana Industry, 1938–1962.” Latin American Research Review 37.2 (2002): 3–36.

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    This article documents the health and social effects of using toxic fungicides in United Fruit Company banana plantations in Costa Rica. When Sigatoka disease struck, the company utilized pesticides without providing adequate protection to workers, whose health suffered as a result and led to labor unrest and soil degradation. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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Cuba

Díaz-Briquets and Pérez-López 2000 reviews and summarizes Cuba’s environmental problems since 1959. Funes Monzote 2004 focuses on the deforestation of central Cuba brought about by American sugar companies after the 1920s, and Funes Monzote 2008 documents the deforestation that sugar plantations and the sugar industry brought about in Cuba from Spanish colonization until 1926. Johnson 2011 analyzes the role that weather-related catastrophes played in economic and political developments in Cuba during the late 18th century. Pérez 2001 documents the political, economic, cultural, and ecological impact of three hurricanes that struck Cuba in the 1840s. Smith 1995 chronicles the environmental impact of the American Manatí Sugar Company in eastern Cuba during the early 20th century.

  • Díaz-Briquets, Sergio, and Jorge Pérez-López. Conquering Nature: The Environmental Legacy of Socialism in Cuba. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000.

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    Written by an economist and a consultant, this book focuses on Cuba’s environmental problems since 1959. It highlights pollution, forestry policy and deforestation as well as Cuba’s truncated attempt to build a nuclear power plant. Also included is a summary of Cuban environmental legislation and the obstacles to enforcement and an evaluation of policies during the “special period during peacetime” (i.e., since 1990; p. 249). Text available online.

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  • Funes Monzote, Reinaldo. “Deforestation and Sugar in Cuba’s Centre-East: The Case of Camagüey, 1898–1926.” In Territories, Commodities, and Knowledges: Latin American Environmental Histories in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Edited by Christian Brannstrom, 148–170. London: Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2004.

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    The article focuses on the deforestation of central Cuba due to the boom in sugar production at the turn of the century. A region of mixed forest and coastal vegetation used for livestock since the late 1500s by colonial Spanish settlers, Camagüey became one of the centers for the expansion of the sugar plantation economy in the aftermath of US occupation and investment.

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  • Funes Monzote, Reinaldo. From Rainforest to Cane Field in Cuba: An Environmental History Since 1492. Translated by Alex Martin. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008.

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    This book is a history of the deforestation of Cuba by the sugar industry since Spanish colonization until 1926. The text discusses the Crown’s attempts to conserve the forests for shipbuilding and how it fell short in the face of private interests focused on developing sugar cane, especially after the end of French rule in Haiti. Other factors include the perception of forests being an infinite resource, technological advances in the design of sugar mills, the liberalization of commerce, and increased market demand.

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  • Johnson, Sherry. Climate and Catastrophe in Cuba and the Atlantic World in the Age of Revolution. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011.

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    Focusing on hurricanes in Cuba in the late 18th century, the book analyzes their effects on colonial politics and economics. A shift in the El Niño and La Niña climate cycle in the second half of the 1700s produced a series of devastating hurricanes that resulted in massive dislocations, including facilitating the British taking of Havana harbor in 1762–1763, establishing close commercial links between Cuba and the English colonies in North America, and local demands for free trade granted under Bourbon Spain.

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  • Pérez, Louis A., Jr. Winds of Change: Hurricanes and the Transformation of Nineteenth-Century Cuba. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.

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    This monograph traces the political, social, cultural, economic, and ecological impact of the hurricanes that struck Cuba in 1842, 1844, and 1846. Coffee and sugar competed for land and slaves until those three hurricanes leveled the coffee plantations. Sugar cane survived to enter a boom period that accelerated deforestation throughout the island. Tobacco production expanded, spurring the birth of cigar factories in the second half of the century. Those shifts produced a higher demand for slaves, concentration of land ownership, and slave rebellions. At the same time, hurricanes became part of local memory and history, becoming part of Cuban identity.

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  • Smith, Mark. “The Political Economy of Sugar Production and the Environment in Eastern Cuba, 1898–1923.” Environmental History Review 19.4 (Winter 1995): 31–48.

    DOI: 10.2307/3984691Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article tells the history of the Manatí Sugar Company, started by New York investors in 1910. Located in eastern Cuba, the company established itself on a sandy savannah covered in grass and forests and quickly transformed into an agroindustrial enterprise encompassing some 450 square miles. The author examines how the company’s ties to the United States, which was its sole market, was key to its success. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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Ecuador

Alchon 1991 documents the demographic collapse of indigenous peoples in Ecuador as a result disease and environmental disasters from the arrival of the Spaniards through the 1690s. Sabin 1998 examines the responses of indigenous peoples to oil extraction and pollution in the Ecuardorian Amazon in the mid- to late 20th century.

  • Alchon, Suzanne Austin. Native Society and Disease in Colonial Ecuador. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

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    The book documents the demographic collapse of indigenous peoples in Ecuador as a result of Spanish conquest. It includes epidemic disease, drought, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions as factors that precipitated famine and death. One of the effects of such high mortality was a reconceptualization of disease and health practices among indigenous people, which affected the role of the shaman in the community.

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  • Sabin, Paul. “Searching for Middle Ground: Native Communities and Oil Extraction in the Northern and Central Ecuadorian Amazon, 1967–1993.” Environmental History 3.2 (April 1998): 144–168.

    DOI: 10.1093/envhis/3.2.144Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The author examines the relationship between indigenous groups and foreign oil companies in Ecuador from 1967 to 1993. As Texaco and Gulf extracted oil from the Ecuadorian Amazon, the Siona-Secoya, Canelos Quichua, Cofán, and Huaorani peoples who lived there responded in different ways as they contended with economic development, ecological changes, and pollution. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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Guatemala

Gallini 2004 documents the effects of coffee plantations on the Mayan people of southwestern Guatemala in the 19th century.

  • Gallini, Stefania. “A Maya Mam Agro-Ecosystem in Guatemala’s Coffee Revolution: Costa Cuca, 1830s–1880s.” In Territories, Commodities, and Knowledges: Latin American Environmental Histories in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Edited by Christian Brannstrom, 23–49. London: Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2004.

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    The article focuses on the emergence of coffee in southwestern Guatemala and its impact on Maya communities and agroecosystems. As liberal land and economic policies facilitated the expansion of coffee plantations in the 19th century, indigenous people experienced ecological marginalization and a loss of access to land. Such dislocation, in turn, meant a loss of indigenous autonomy and increased economic marginality.

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Honduras

Soluri 2004 explains how the commodification of bananas in the late 19th century made the fruit vulnerable to disease and reduced biodiversity in Honduras. Soluri 2005 focuses on the development of the banana industry in Honduras and its relationship to American markets and consumer tastes, changes in production and technology, and crop disease.

  • Soluri, John. “Bananas, Biodiversity and the Paradox of Commodification.” In Territories, Commodities, and Knowledges: Latin American Environmental Histories in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Edited by Christian Brannstrom, 195–217. London: Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2004.

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    The article focuses on banana production in Honduras since the late 19th century. Monocrop plantation as practiced in Honduras by American banana companies meant a serious loss of biodiversity and the proliferation of pathogens that attacked bananas. Despite enormous efforts and experimentation in the laboratory as well as in the plantations, scientists were unable to eradicate Panama disease, leading to an eventual shift in banana varieties.

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  • Soluri, John. Banana Cultures: Agriculture, Consumption, and Environmental Change in Honduras and the United States. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005.

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    A history of bananas in Honduras since the late 19th century, the book focuses on the relationship between American markets and gendered consumer tastes, changes in banana production and technology, and plant pathogens. As demand for one variety of banana grew in the United States, small growers lost ground to United Fruit Company, which introduced the monocrop plantation, leading to plant diseases and high use of pesticides that were harmful to workers’ health.

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Mexico

Mexico has the most extensive historiography in environmental history of any Latin American country. Topics often overlap, but one or two tend to be highlighted in most texts, allowing for the creation of following categories: Agriculture, Borderlands, Botany, Climate, Conservation, Disasters, Disease, Fire, Forests, Livestock, Mexico City, Mining, Oil, Pearls, and Water. The section on Agriculture brings together works on the Bajío region during the colonial period, henequen plantations since the 19th century, and the Green Revolution in the 20th. The Borderlands includes works with a focus on indigenous peoples of the Sonoran desert, irrigated cotton along the Rio Grande, and failed attempts to establish binational parks in the 1930s in addition to an article recommending the use of environmental history to rewrite the history of the borderlands. The category of Botany includes works on corn, the hormone-producing barbasco yam, agave, and European plants that changed cuisines throughout the Americas. Conservation includes works on the political history of conservation, the creation of the national park system and protected areas, and the gray whale and its Baja California coastal habitat and a comparative article on conservation in the United States and Mexico. The Disasters category includes two articles by teams of geographers who describe how drought and flooding created social conflict in colonial Mexico and one book that examines why political crisis was averted in Central Mexico at the end of the colonial period despite adverse ecological conditions. The category of Forests includes works on forest policy, deforestation and regeneration in southern Mexico, histories of forests in Quintana Roo and Veracruz, and the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas. The section on Livestock focuses on two opposing sides of the debate over the ecological effects of the introduction of hoofed animals to Mexico. The section on Oil focuses on the ecological and social changes foreign oil companies brought to northern Veracruz before the 1938 nationalization of the industry. Under the category of Water, articles focus on water and sewage infrastructure in urban areas, the ecological consequences of draining lakes in central Mexico and those surrounding Mexico City, water wars in Puebla in the colonial period and in Morelos on the eve of the revolution, and the uses of cenotes in the Yucatán peninsula since the pre-Hispanic period. See also Dore 2000 (cited under Andes) for a history of Latin American mining and its effects on environment and labor from the colonial era, which emphasizes Mexico.

Agriculture

Evans 2007 follows the history of twine from production in Mexico to consumption in Canada and the United States from the end of the 19th century to 1950, and Evans 2012 chronicles the ecological changes henequen plantation agriculture brought to the Yucatáan peninsula. Meyers 1998 reveals how cotton agricultural cycles affected participation in the Mexican Revolution in northern Mexico in its early years. Sonnenfeld 1992 summarizes the history of the Green Revolution in Mexico. Sánchez Rodríguez 2011 chronicles the successful transformation of Mexico’s Bajío into a highly productive agricultural region during the colonial period. Wright 2005 is an environmental history of agriculture in Mexico, highlighting the effects of pesticide use and Green Revolution technologies on workers, consumers, and nature whereas Wright 2012 is a history of elite responses to soil erosion in Mexico from the pre-Hispanic era to the Green Revolution and beyond.

  • Evans, Sterling. Bound in Twine: The History and Ecology of the Henquen-Wheat Complex for Mexico and the American and Canadian Plains, 1880–1950. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2007.

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    Using a history of commodities approach, the book traces the history of twine from production in the henquén and sisal plantations of Yucatán to consumption in the wheat farms of the Canadian and American plains as an example of protoglobalization and transnational environmental transformation in agriculture. The author includes labor regimes in all three countries, from prison labor to slavery.

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  • Evans, Sterling. “King Henequen: Order, Progress, and Ecological Change in Yucatán, 1850–1950.” In A Land Between Waters: Environmental Histories of Modern Mexico. Edited by Christopher R. Boyer, 150–172. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2012.

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    This article chronicles the ecological changes wrought in the Yucatán peninsula by the growth of henequen plantations between 1850 and 1950. The author focuses on the natural history of henequen, its uses as twine, and the political ideologies that drove the rise of the plantation complex. Available online by subscription.

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  • Meyers, William K. “Seasons of Rebellion: Nature, Organisation of Cotton Production and the Dynamics of Revolution in La Laguna, Mexico, 1910–1916.” Journal of Latin American Studies 30.1 (February 1998): 63–94.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0022216X97004902Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The article focuses on the impact that the seasonal patterns of cotton production in La Laguna region of Durango and Coahuila had on the Mexican Revolution between 1910 and 1916. The author analyzes the roles played by irrigation, migrant labor, and drought on the support or lack thereof for Francisco Madero and Pancho Villa during the early years of the revolution. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Sánchez Rodríguez, Martín, “Mexico’s Breadbasket: Agriculture and the Environment in the Bajío.” In A Land Between Waters: Environmental Histories of Modern Mexico. Edited by Christopher R. Boyer, 50–72. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2012.

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    This text chronicles the history of agriculture along the Lerma River in the Bajío region during the colonial period. The author focuses on innovative irrigation and water management techniques that allowed the area to become Mexico’s breadbasket. Available online by subscription.

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  • Sonnenfeld, David A. “Mexico’s ‘Green Revolution,’ 1940–1980: Towards an Environmental History.” Environmental History Review 16.4 (Winter 1992): 28–52.

    DOI: 10.2307/3984948Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article in historical sociology maps out the history of the Green Revolution in Mexico in the second half of the 20th century. The author examines the effects of the Green Revolution in agriculture, infrastructure, commodity vegetable production, land ownership, and environment including pollution, deforestation, salinization, aquifer depletion, and soil fertility. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Wright, Angus L. The Death of Ramón Gónzalez: The Modern Agricultural Dilemma. Rev. ed. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005.

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    The book is an environmental history of agriculture in Mexico, focusing on the effects that the Green Revolution had on indigenous agroecologies, migrant workers, commodity production in northern Mexico, and workers’ health. The author includes the effects of pesticide-dependent modern agriculture in shaping the economic, cultural, and ecological ties between the United States and Mexico, including migration and imports of agricultural products.

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  • Wright, Angus. “Downslope and North: How Soil Degradation and Synthetic Pesticides Drove the Trajectory of Mexican Agriculture Through the Twentieth Century.” In A Land Between Waters: Environmental Histories of Modern Mexico. Edited by Christopher R. Boyer, 22–49. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2012.

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    This article examines elite responses to soil degradation from the pre-Columbian through the 20th century. The author pays close attention to how the Green Revolution turned Mexico into a model of agricultural development—highly dependent on pesticides—that would be followed in the rest of the developing world. Available online by subscription.

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Borderlands

MacCameron 1997 focuses on the environmental changes colonialism meant to the northern border of the New Spain, New Mexico. Radding 1997 is an ethnohistory that traces the social, environmental, cultural, and political changes that Spanish colonialism introduced among the peoples of the Sonoran desert and their responses to those transformations, and Radding 2005 does a comparative study of the experiences of Sonoran desert peoples in Mexico and Chiquitos tropical forest peoples in Bolivia from the colonial period until the mid-19th century to examine how both populations forged new identities on the borderlands of empire and nation under circumstances of profound social, cultural, and political change. Truett 1997 proposes that borderland history be written from a transnational environmental perspective, looking at how elites in both countries shaped ecology and labor regimes on both sides of the border. Walkid 2009 analyzes why despite ten years of negotiations Mexican and American officials failed to reach an agreement to build binational parks along the border between the two countries. Walsh 2008 writes the history of the rise and fall of irrigated cotton on along the Rio Grande in Tamaulipas in the first half of the 20th century.

  • MacCameron, Robert. “Environmental Change in Colonial New Mexico.” In Agriculture, Resource Exploitation, and Environmental Change. Edited by Helen Wheatley, 219–241. An Expanding World: The European Impact on World History 1450–1800 17. Hampshire, UK: Variorum, 1997.

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    This article traces the ecological changes in northern New Spain that took place under colonialism, including demographic losses among the Pueblo and landscape changes due to the introduction of grazing animals. Also available in A Sense of the American West: An Anthology of Environmental History. Edited by James E. Sherow, 41–63. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1998.

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  • Radding, Cynthia M. Wandering Peoples: Colonialism, Ethnic Spaces, and Ecological Frontiers in Northwestern Mexico, 1700–1850. Durham, NC: Duke University Press 1997.

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    This ethnohistory takes a social ecology approach to document the changes that the Opata (Tegüina), Pima (O’odham), and Eudeve of the Sonoran desert experienced under colonialism. Focusing on the mission system, the author analyzes indigenous household economies, gender systems, land tenure patterns, ethnic identities, epidemics, forced labor, and the market. The author includes indigenous responses such as cultural resistance, migration, and rebellion.

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  • Radding, Cynthia M. Landscapes of Power and Identity: Comparative Histories in the Sonoran Desert and the Forests of Amazonia from Colony to Republic. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005.

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    The book compares the experiences of indigenous peoples in the desert of Sonora, Mexico, and the tropical forest of Chiquitos, Bolivia, from colonial times through the mid-19th century, focusing on how both forged identities on the margins of empire and nation building. The author highlights gender and religion as she explains how indigenous actions affected the process of creating meaning under changed landscapes, polities, and economies.

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  • Truett, Samuel. “Neighbors by Nature: Rethinking Religion, Nation, and Environmental History in the U.S.–Mexico Borderlands.” Environmental History 2.2 (April 1997): 160–178.

    DOI: 10.2307/3985506Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Using Sonora–Arizona as a case study, this article proposes writing the history of the American southwest from a transnational environmental perspective. That perspective means analyzing the effects of European colonialism and American capitalism on the landscapes of the US–Mexico border, the shared interests and worldviews that American and Mexican elites, and the consequences of economic development on Apaches, Yaquis, and labor in mining and other sectors. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Walkid, Emily. “Border Chasm: International Boundary Parks and Mexican Conservation, 1935–1945.” Environmental History 14.3 (July 2009): 453–475.

    DOI: 10.1093/envhis/14.3.453Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article is the story of a failed attempt to build a binational park at the US–Mexico border. Ten years of negotiations between 1935 and 1945 collapsed due to differing conservation agendas and contrasting models for the creation and utilization of parks. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Walsh, Casey. Building the Borderlands: A Transnational History of Irrigated Cotton Along the Mexico–Texas Border. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2008.

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    This book is an anthropological history of irrigated cotton in the Rio Bravo/Grande delta, the Valle Bajo Rio Bravo, in post-revolutionary Tamaulipas. Using the lens of political economy and commodity studies, the author examines how the river’s delta shaped the transformation of a semi-arid landscape into an irrigated cotton region from the late 1930s until 1963. The author highlights the infrastructure, labor, and ideologies involved.

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Botany

Dunmire 2004 inventories which Old World plants flourished in Mexico, Florida, and the American southwest and changed the diet and cuisines of both indigenous peoples and Spaniards. López 2012 illustrates how the royal garden in Mexico City represented Spanish scientific views and interactions with nature that claimed the natural world for imperial purposes. Radding 2012 is about the relationship between agaves and desert peoples of Sonora and Arizona and agaves and scientists, native and Europeans. Soto Laveaga 2009 documents the history of the development of hormones from the wild yam barbasco and the vagaries of the Mexican hormone pharmaceutical industry through the 1980s. Warman 2004 is a sweeping anthropological history of the role of corn in Mexico and its impact on the world, including the transformation of corn itself by science and capitalist agriculture.

  • Dunmire, William W. Gardens of New Spain: How Mediterranean Plants and Foods Changed America. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004.

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    This book contains a botanical inventory of plants and food crops from the Old World that adapted well to colonial New Spain, the American southwestern states of California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas as well as Florida. The author explains how grains, vegetables, fruits, roots, herbs, and nuts traveled with missionaries and colonizers, changing the diets and tables of both Spaniards and indigenous people by creating hybrid cuisines. The book includes short histories of individual botanical specimens from both continents in each chapter. Illustrated by Evangeline L. Dunmire.

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  • López, Rick A. “Nature as Subject and Citizen in the Mexican Botanical Garden, 1787–1829.” In A Land Between Waters: Environmental Histories of Modern Mexico. Edited by Christopher R. Boyer, 73–99. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2012.

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    This article is the history of the Mexican Royal Botanical Garden established by King Charles III in in Mexico City. The garden illustrates how colonial botanists interpreted nature in Mexico and sought to codify their views as the only scientific knowledge and valid interactions with nature that imperial policy makers ought to have followed during the late colonial period and beyond. Available online by subscription.

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  • Radding, Cynthia. “The Children of Mayahuel: Agaves, Human Cultures, and Desert Landscapes in Northern Mexico.” Environmental History 17.1 (January 2012): 84–115.

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    The article focuses on two related histories of agaves. The first is the relationship between agaves and the Totono O’odham, Maricopa, Yavapai, Raramuri, Seri, and Apache desert peoples of Sonora and Arizona. The second is the relationship between agaves and the scientists who classified them from the Aztec through the chroniclers to contemporary ethnobotanists. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Soto Laveaga, Gabriela. Jungle Laboratories: Mexican Peasants, National Projects, and the Making of the Pill. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009.

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    A history of barbasco extraction in Oaxaca between the 1940s and the 1980s, the book recounts how the wild yam became the raw material for the production of hormones and the manufacture of the first cortisone and oral contraceptives by a Mexican pharmaceutical company. The book highlights the role of barbasco in the history of Mexican science, labor conflict in the industry, and the depletion of the yam due to over harvesting and habitat loss.

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  • Warman, Arturo. Corn and Capitalism: How a Botanical Bastard Grew to Global Dominance. Translated by Nancy L. Westrate. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

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    An anthropological study of corn from its origins in Mesoamerica to the late 1980s, this book reviews the process of corn domestication in Mexico and its diffusion to China, Africa, and Europe. The author analyzes the role of corn in the slave trade, colonialism, and the industrial revolution and discusses the transformations in agriculture, food systems, and corn itself wrought by science and capitalism.

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Climate

Swan 1981 looks at the potential effects of the Little Ice Age in Mexico.

  • Swan, Susan L. “Mexico in the Little Ice Age.” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 11.4 (Spring 1981): 633–648.

    DOI: 10.2307/203147Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article on the history of climate suggests that Mexico felt the effects of the Little Ice Age, which is dated in Europe from 1430 to 1850. A famine between 1785 and 1786 and drought between 1808 and 1811 in central Mexico correlate with the end of the Little Ice Age. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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Conservation

Dedina 2000 documents successful efforts to protect the gray whale and conserve its calfing grounds in Baja California. Graham 1991 compares the histories of conservation and the environmental movement in the United States and Mexico, and Simonian 1995 documents the history of conservation in Mexico from pre-Hispanic times until the 1980s. Wakild 2011 focuses on four major parks in central Mexico to chronicle the creation of Mexico’s national park system through 1940, and Wakild 2012 examines the contradictions and difficulties the Mexican state faced in the creation of urban parks.

  • Dedina, Serge. Saving the Gray Whale: People, Politics, and Conservation in Baja California. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2000.

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    Written by a geographer, this book documents the successful attempts to protect the gray whale and its reproductive grounds along the coastal lagoons of Baja California, Mexico. The author provides a natural history of the gray whales and the activities that endangered them until conservation efforts began in the 1920s and took off in the 1970s and 1980s, despite Mitsubishi’s lobbying to establish a salt works in calfing territory.

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  • Graham, Wade. “MexEco? Mexican Attitudes Toward the Environment.” Environmental History Review 15.4 (Winter 1991): 1–17.

    DOI: 10.2307/3984990Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The article compares the histories of conservation and the environmental movement in the United States and Mexico, using the United States as the model. The text includes debates about environmentalism in Mexico since the 1970s. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Simonian, Lane. Defending the Land of the Jaguar: A History of Conservation in Mexico. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995.

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    This book documents the evolution of conservation in Mexico from the pre-Columbian era until the 1980s. It follows a political chronology, highlighting the themes and topics debated the most in each period. Throughout, the author introduces the major actors, their philosophical positions, and the debates over progress, development, and state intervention in the economy.

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  • Wakild, Emily. Revolutionary Parks: Conservation, Social Justice, and Mexico’s National Parks, 1910–1940. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2011.

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    This monograph chronicles the creation of Mexico’s national parks in the first half of the 20th century. As part of a conservation project undertaken by President Lázaro Cárdenas, the park system incorporated social justice concerns and the participation of local communities as central to the process of planning and management. Four parks located in central Mexico illustrate the praxis, its successes, and its limitations.

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  • Wakild, Emily. “Parables of Chapultepec: Urban Parks, National Landscapes, and Contradictory Conservation in Modern Mexico.” In A Land Between Waters: Environmental Histories of Modern Mexico. Edited by Christopher R. Boyer, 192–217. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2012.

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    This article summarizes the history of the creation of protected areas in Mexico as part of a modernization project that assumed no contradiction existed between development and conservation. The author pays close attention to the difficulties that the process entailed in conception and implementation. Available online by subscription.

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Disasters

Endfield, et al. 2004 examines how disasters of drought followed by flooding created social conflict in colonial Guanajuato. Endfield, et al. 2009 compares disasters in different parts of Mexico during the colonial period, and Ouweneel 1994 explains how political crisis was averted in central Mexico at the end of the colonial period despite adverse ecological factors.

  • Endfield, Georgina H., Isabel Fernández Tejedo, and Sarah L. O’Hara, “Conflict and Cooperation: Water, Floods, and Social Response in Colonial Guanajuato, Mexico.” Environmental History 9.2 (April 2004): 221–247.

    DOI: 10.2307/3986085Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors, who are geographers, describe how drought sometimes followed by flash floods devastated Guanajuato between the 16th and 18th centuries. Both types of disaster created conflicts over water between Spaniards and indigenous people, eliciting community responses that included bridge building, some terracing, and dredging. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Endfield, Georgina H., Sarah J. Davies, Isabel Fernández Tejedo, Sarah E. Metcalfe, and Sarah L. O’Hara, “Documenting Disaster: Archival Investigations of Climate, Crisis, and Catastrophe in Colonial Mexico.” In Natural Disasters, Cultural Responses: Case Studies Toward a Global Environmental History. Edited by Christof Mauch and Christian Pfister, 305–325. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2009.

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    This comparative geography article focuses on disasters in Chihuahua, Oaxaca, Michoacán, and Jalisco at different points during the colonial period. Drought and flooding were the most common events, which led to social unrest. While disaster relief was the exception, mobilizing indigenous labor to rebuild was routine as were attempts to diversify agriculture and adopt strategies to lessen the effects of disasters in the future.

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  • Ouweneel, Arij. Shadows Over Anáhuac: An Ecological Interpretation of Crisis and Development in Central Mexico, 1730–1800. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1996.

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    Using an ecological history and Malthusian approach to analyze the economic history of the last century of colonial rule, this book faults population growth, extended drought (1780s–1790s), and political policies for social crisis in central Mexico. Violence was averted due to successful elite redress and the expansion of the small manufacturing sector.

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Disease

Cook 1998 chronicles the path of epidemic disease unleashed by the Spanish from the Caribbean through Mesoamerica and the Inca empire until 1650.

  • Cook, Noble David. Born to Die: Disease and New World Conquest, 1492–1650. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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    This work is a monograph that documents the course of the diseases that the Spanish unwittingly brought to the New World that caused the demographic collapse of indigenous communities throughout the continent. The book starts with Columbus’s voyages, followed by the deaths of the Aztec and Inca leaders and the introduction of epidemic and pandemic diseases until they became endemic. The author traces the path of influenza, typhus, small pox, malaria, measles, bubonic plague, and yellow fever until the middle of the 17th century when the indigenous population as a whole hit rock bottom demographically.

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Fire

Mathews 2003 is an anthropological study of fire use and discourses of fire suppression in the Sierra of Oaxaca.

  • Mathews, Andrew Salvador. “Suppressing Fire and Memory: Environmental Degradation and Political Restoration in Sierra Juárez of Oaxaca, 1887–2001.” Environmental History 8.1 (January 2003): 77–108.

    DOI: 10.2307/3985973Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This anthropology article focuses on the forgotten history of fire in Oaxaca. A regular burning regime existed between 1796 and 1933, but its memory was lost as the state sought to end the practice and indigenous communities claimed the forest through enthusiastic support for fire suppression. Indigenous appropriation of official discourse of fire suppression has meant that the Sierra is more forested in the 2000s than it was in the late 19th century. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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Forests

Boyer and Wakild 2012 analyzes forest policy under President Làzaro Cárdenas, 1934–1940. Bray and Klepeis 2005, written by geographers, examines three sites of forest regeneration in Yucatán and Chiapas in the aftermath of deforestation, evaluating their potential for sustainable forestry due to active community organizing. Edwards 1986 chronicles the history of the forest in Quintana Roo, which survived until chicle extraction in the 1920s opened the territory and it underwent clear cutting for cattle ranching in the 1970s. Howard 1998 argues that the roots of the 1990 Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas are in the ecological changes taking place in the Lacandón forest that marginalized its indigenous inhabitants. Juárez 2012 examines how modernization and industrialization in the second half of the 19th century caused the deforestation of the La Malintzin woodlands in Tlaxcala. Santiago 2011 takes a longue durée approach to document the history of the tropical forest in northern Veracruz since its settlement until the 2000s.

  • Boyer, Christopher R., and Emily Wakild. “Social Landscaping in the Forests of Mexico: An Environmental Interpretation of Cardenismo, 1934–1940.” Hispanic American Historical Review 92:1 (February 2012): 73–106.

    DOI: 10.1215/00182168-1470977Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An examination of the environmental policies of the administration of President Làzaro Cárdenas (1934–1940), this article documents his efforts to incorporate ecological concerns into a community forestry development project designed to serve the peasantry. The authors illustrate the process by focusing on forest policy and the creation of the largest park system in the world by 1940. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Bray, David Barton, and Peter Klepeis. “Deforestation, Forest Transitions, and Institutions for Sustainability in Southeastern Mexico, 1900–2000.” Environment and History 11.2 (May 2005): 195–223.

    DOI: 10.3197/096734005774434584Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this geography article, the authors examine the process of deforestation, recovery, and sustainability efforts in three different sites in Quintana Roo, southeastern Yucatan, and the Lacandón forest in Chiapas. In all three areas a forest transition is taking place whereby young trees have replaced old growth, and an opportunity exists for sustainable forestry due to active community participation in the aftermath of deforestation. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Edwards, Clinton R. “The Human Impact on the Forest in Quintana Roo, Mexico.” Journal of Forest History 30.3 (July 1986): 120–127.

    DOI: 10.2307/4004876Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article is a history of the uses and abuses of the forest in Quintana Roo in the Yucatan peninsula since Maya times until the 1970s. The region escaped massive deforestation under indigenous control until the early 20th century when American companies exploited the chicle tree until depletion. In the 1960s the government promoted the clear cutting for cattle ranching. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Howard, Philip. “The History of Ecological Marginalization in Chiapas.” Environmental History 3.3 (July 1998): 357–377.

    DOI: 10.2307/3985184Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article in historical sociology examines the ecological basis for the insurgency that the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional started in 1994 in the forests of Chiapas. The author focuses on the interplay of several factors: logging, outsider migration into the Lacandón forest, cattle ranching, population growth, soil erosion, and the dismantling of communal ejido lands. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Juárez Flores, Juan José. “Besieged Forests at Century’s End: Industry, Speculation, and Dispossession in Tlaxcala’s La Malitnzin Woodlands, 1860–1910.” In A Land Between Waters: Environmental Histories of Modern Mexico. Edited by Christopher R. Boyer, 100–123. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2012.

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    This article focuses on the deforestation of the foothills at the base of the La Malintzin volcano in Tlaxcala in the second half of the 19th century. Among the factors that led to deforestation the author includes modern industrialization needs for wood as fuel and federal policies that did not hesitate to dispossess local communities of their land in the process. Available online by subscription.

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  • Santiago, Myrna. “The Huasteca Rain Forest: An Environmental History.” Special Issue: Contemporary Debates on Ecology, Society, and Culture in Latin America. Edited by Marianne Schmink and José Jouve-Martín. Latin American Research Review 46 (2011): 32–54.

    DOI: 10.1353/lar.2011.0040Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The article documents the history of the tropical forest of northern Veracruz since humans migrated into the region in 7600 BCE. The author traces the changes in the landscape brought about by the adoption of agriculture, Spanish colonialism, the oil industry, cattle ranching, and monocrop citrus agriculture. Available online by subscription.

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Livestock

Melville 1994 examines the environmental, social, and political changes that followed the introduction of sheep to the Valle del Mezquital in central Mexico. The geographer Sluyter 1998, by contrast, argues that the introduction of livestock to the lowlands of Veracruz did not cause ecological dislocation.

  • Melville, Elinor G. K. A Plague of Sheep: Environmental Consequences of the Conquest of Mexico. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511571091Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The book focuses on the transformation the central Mexican region of Valle del Mezquital underwent as a result of the introduction of sheep in the 16th century. As the sheep population exploded, they displaced indigenous agroecologies and facilitated political domination of indigenous peoples and Spanish monopoly over rural territories. The author includes Australia for comparative purposes.

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  • Sluyter, Andrew. “From Archive to Map to Pastoral Landscape: A Spatial Perspective on the Livestock Ecology of Sixteenth-Century New Spain.” Environmental History 3.4 (October 1998): 508–528.

    DOI: 10.2307/3985209Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This piece of historical geography uses the port of Veracruz as a case study to examine the methodological problems researchers face in trying to tease out the ecological effects of the introduction of hooved animals to Mexico. Geography’s tools, including sediment analysis, lead the author to conclude that the introduction of livestock was environmentally benign. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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Mining

Studnicki-Gizbert and Schecter 2010 documents the ecological consequences of mining in northern Mexico during the colonial period.

Oil

Santiago 1998 examines the relationship between indigenous peoples and the oil companies in northern Veracruz in the early 20th century, while Santiago 2006 analyzes the environmental and social transformations the oil industry precipitated in northern Veracruz prior to nationalization of the industry in 1938. Santiago 2012a focuses on the environmental and health hazards workers encountered in the Mexican oil industry until 1938. Santiago 2012b suggests that environmental history has not made class an explicit concern or used it as a category of analysis, which would yield rich working-class environmental narratives.

  • Santiago, Myrna. “Rejecting Progress in Paradise: Huastecs, the Environment, and the Oil Industry in Veracruz, Mexico, 1900–1935.” Environmental History 3.2 (April 1998): 169–188.

    DOI: 10.2307/3985378Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article focuses on the relationship between indigenous people and the first oil companies that extracted petroleum in Mexico. The Huastec who lived in northern Veracruz approached American and British oil men carefully, but when heads of household lost their lands to the companies, their caution turned to reluctance. By the 1920s, indigenous peoples rejected the oil companies altogether and sought ways to regain the territory they had lost. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Santiago, Myrna I. The Ecology of Oil: Environment, Labor, and the Mexican Revolution, 1900–1938. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

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    This book is a history of oil production in northern Veracruz during the period of foreign ownership of the industry, 1900–1938. The book highlights the ecological changes oil companies brought to the tropical forest of the Huasteca, including changes in land tenure patterns, local ecosystems, and the social composition of the region. In addition, the text shows how environmental issues figured in the nationalization of the industry in 1938.

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  • Santiago, Myrna I. “Work, Home, and Natural Environments: Health and Safety in the Mexican Oil Industry, 1900–1938.” In Dangerous Trade: Histories of Industrial Hazard Across a Globalizing World. Edited by Christopher C. Sellers and Joseph Melling, 33–44. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2012a.

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    This article focuses on the conditions workers encountered in the oil industry in northern Veracruz until 1938. The author examines the environmental hazards Mexican oil workers faced at work, at home, and in the tropical forest, including occupational risk and disease.

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  • Santiago, Myrna I. “Class and Nature in the Oil Industry of Northern Veracruz, 1900–1938.” In A Land Between Waters: Environmental Histories of Modern Mexico. Edited by Christopher R. Boyer, 173–191. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2012b.

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    This article suggests that environmental history has not made class an explicit concern or used it as a category of analysis. Looking at the experience of nature that different rungs of the oil hierarchy had, the author illustrates that workers and bosses constructed nature differently. Working class constructions of nature in this case led to including environmental concerns into the labor conflicts that led to nationalization of the oil industry. Available online by subscription.

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Pearls

Monteforte and Cariño 2012 chronicle the history of pearls in the Gulf of California since the pre-Hispanic era.

  • Monteforte, Mario, and Michele Cariño. “Episodes of Environmental History in the Gulf of California: Fisheries, Commerce, and Aquaculture of Nacre and Pearls.” In A Land Between Waters: Environmental Histories of Modern Mexico. Edited by Christopher R. Boyer, 245–276. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2012.

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    This article is the environmental history of pearls along the coasts of Baja California from the pre-Columbian period until the present. The authors document indigenous uses of oysters and pearls, the changes and depletion caused by colonial extractive practices, the emergence of the nacre industry in the 20th, and the introduction of cultivated pearls. Available online by subscription.

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Water

Aboites 2012 chronicles the history of water infrastructure in Mexican cities in the 20th century. Candiani 2012 documents the conflicts created by the project to build a canal that would drain the lakes surrounding Mexico City during the colonial period. Lipsett-Rivera 1999 focuses on the struggles over water in Puebla during the 18th century. Munro and Melo Zurita 2011, written by geographers, records the history of cenotes and their uses in Yucatán since the pre-Hispanic period through the 20th century. Tortolero 2004 focuses on the ecological consequences of draining multiple lakes throughout central Mexico during the 19th century, and Tortolero 2012 addresses the conflicts over water in Morelos on the eve of revolution. Vitz 2012 focuses on the environmental consequences of the successful drainage of the Texcoco lake in Mexico City and the government’s attempts to deal with them until the 1970s.

  • Aboites Aguilar, Luis. “The Illusion of National Power: Water Infrastructure in Mexican Cities, 1930–1990.” In A Land Between Waters: Environmental Histories of Modern Mexico. Edited by Christopher R. Boyer, 218–244. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2012.

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    This article documents the history of potable water and sewage systems in Mexican cities in the 20th century, as part of the larger history of urbanization. The author focuses on the uses and ideas about water held by all the actors involved. Available online by subscription.

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  • Candiani, Vera. “The Desagüe Reconsidered: Environmental Dimensions of Class Conflict in Colonial Mexico.” Hispanic American Historical Review 92.1 (February 2012): 5–39.

    DOI: 10.1215/00182168-1470959Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A history of the Huehuetoca drainage canal in Tenochtitlán–Mexico City during two centuries of colonial Spanish administration, this article emphasizes the social conflicts the project caused between indigenous communities and the state. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Lipsett-Rivera, Sonya. To Defend Our Water With the Blood of Our Veins: The Struggle for Resources in Colonial Puebla. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1999.

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    This book documents the conflict over water in Puebla throughout the 18th century. The text examines indigenous water culture and how the development of commercial agriculture by the Spanish disrupted ancient practices and created social and political conflict.

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  • Munro, Paul George, and María de Lourdes Melo Zurita. “The Role of Cenotes in the Social History of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.” Environment and History 17.4 (November 2011): 583–612.

    DOI: 10.3197/096734011X13150366551616Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Two geographers write the environmental history of cenotes (sinkholes) in the Yucatán peninsula from the pre-Columbian period to the present. The article includes uses and beliefs about the cenotes by the Maya and the Spaniards; the role of cenotes in the Caste War; the enclosure of cenotes as private property, their use in chicle extraction, and their transformation into tourist attractions since the 1970s. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Tortolero Villaseñor, Alejandro. “Transforming the Central Mexican Waterscape: Lake Drainage and its Consequences during the Porfiriato (1877–1911).” In Territories, Commodities, and Knowledges: Latin American Environmental Histories in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Edited by Christian Brannstrom, 121–147. London: Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2004.

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    The author documents the environmental changes and economic dislocations that resulted from by the 19th-century drainage of the Chalco, Texcoco, Lerma, Chapala, and Zacapu lakes and lagoons in the valley of Mexico, Jalisco, and Michoacan, respectively.

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  • Tortolero Villaseñor, Alejandro. “Water and Revolution in Morelos, 1850–1915.” In A Land Between Waters: Environmental Histories of Modern Mexico. Edited by Christopher R. Boyer, 124–149. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2012.

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    This article examines the role of water in the growth of sugar estates in Morelos in the second half of the 19th century. The author reviews contending interpretations for political unrest in Morelos, suggesting that access to water may have been an important factor in limiting the growth of the haciendas and in increasing peasant discontent in the state leading to revolution. Available online by subscription.

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  • Vitz, Matthew. “‘The Lands with Which We Shall Struggle’: Land Reclamation, Revolution, and Development in Mexico’s Lake Texcoco Basin, 1910–1950.” Hispanic American Historical Review 92.1 (February 2012): 41–71.

    DOI: 10.1215/00182168-1470968Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article documents the history of the drainage of Lake Texcoco in Mexico City during the 20th century. The completion of the Grand Canal in 1900 emptied the lake but caused dust storms and salinization, preventing the use of the lakebed for agriculture. The author focuses the efforts of administrations to resolve those problems until half of the land had become one of the poorest neighborhoods in Mexico City, Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, in the 1970s. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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Nicaragua

Offen 2004 analyzes the perceptions Nicaraguan elites had of the Mosquitia since the 19th century and their attempts to bind the region closer to the nation through the economic exploitation of local natural resources.

  • Offen, Karl H. “The Geographical Imagination, Resource Economics and Nicaraguan Incorporation of the Mosquitia, 1838–1909.” In Territories, Commodities, and Knowledges: Latin American Environmental Histories in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Edited by Christian Brannstrom, 50–89. London: Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2004.

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    This text focuses on elite ideas about territory, nature, and race and their attempts to incorporate the Mosquitia to the rest of the nation through development policies that emphasized the exploitation of natural resources and plantation agriculture. The result was environmental degradation and widespread Miskitu resistance and resentment toward the national government.

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Panama

Castro 2001 examines the different patterns of development in Panama, which split the country into two regions, and the environmental impact of such divergence. Sutter 2007 examines the relationship among science, imperialism, and environmental management in the construction of the Panama Canal between 1904 and 1914.

  • Castro Herrera, Guillermo. “On Cattle and Ships: Culture, History and Sustainable Development in Panama.” Special Issue: Beyond Local, Natural Ecosystems. Edited by Petra J. E. M. Van Dam. Environment and History 7.2 (May 2001): 201–217.

    DOI: 10.3197/096734001129342469Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article examines the history of how Panama developed into two divergent regions, with the north as the industrial core and the south reserved for ranching, and the environmental consequences of that pattern. The author also documents how the focus on the canal has generated social conflict. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Sutter, Paul S. “Nature’s Agents or Agents of Empire? Entomological Workers and Environmental Change during the Construction of the Panama Canal.” Isis 98.4 (December 2007): 724–754.

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    This article uses the battle against the mosquito that transmits malaria during the construction of the Panama Canal, 1904–1914, as an illustration of the relationship among science, imperialism, and environmental management. The author focuses on entomologists and their work.

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Peru

Carey 2012 focuses on the role German expeditions to Peruvian glaciers affected local environmental debates, science and tourism, and Carey 2010 examines the environmental, scientific, and development debates that took place in the aftermath of a series of devastating flood caused by bursts in glacial lakes in eastern Peru. Walker 2008 focuses on the social and political aftermath of the 1746 earthquake that destroyed the city of Lima. Cushman 2005 follows the rise and fall of Peru’s guano industry in the first half of the 20th century. Maxwell 2012 is a history of the development of the Inca Trail into a tourist destination in the 20th century. See also Robins 2011 (cited under Andes) for a history of the environmental and health effects of silver mining in Peru and Dore 2000 (cited under Andes) for a history of Latin American mining and its effects on environment and labor from the colonial era until the present, which emphasizes Peru.

  • Carey, Mark. “Mountaineers and Engineers: The Politics of International Science, Recreation, and Environmental Change in Twentieth-Century Peru.” Hispanic American Historical Review 92.1 (February 2012): 107–141.

    DOI: 10.1215/00182168-1470986Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article examines the role of the expeditions conducted by the German Alpine Society in the Callejón de Huaylas valley in the 1930s in bringing national and international attention to Peru’s glaciers and their effects on local inhabitants, local environmental debates, and Peruvian science, mountaineering, and tourism. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Carey, Mark. In the Shadow of Melting Glaciers: Climate Change and Andean Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195396065.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The monograph focuses on the history of disastrous floods and avalanches in the Callejón de Huaylas in eastern Peru since the 1940s. As glaciers retreated due to climate change, outburst floods from poorly dammed lakes swept through entire towns, giving rise to policy and environmental debates that promoted scientific and engineering expertise and competing development projects.

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  • Cushman, Gregory T. “‘The Most Valuable Birds in the World’: International Conservation Science and the Revival of Peru’s Guano Industry, 1909–1965.” Environmental History 10.3 (July 2005): 477–509.

    DOI: 10.1093/envhis/10.3.477Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The article is a history of Peru’s second guano age. The article follows the nexus between scientific knowledge and policy making, the collaboration between scientists and government to manage the birds and their predators, and the effects of El Niño and La Niña on the bird population, until the fatal episode of 1965 that decimated the birds and allowed the technocratic state to favor the fishmeal industry over guano. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Maxwell, Keely. “Tourism, Environment, and Development on the Inca Trail.” Hispanic American Historical Review 92.1 (February 2012): 143–171.

    DOI: 10.1215/00182168-1470995Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article chronicles the development of the Inca Trail into a tourist destination in the 20th century. While the Peruvian state sought economic development linking the trail to ideas of modernity and heritage promotion, tourists sought an experience of wild nature and native authenticity. The social tensions and environmental concerns that ensued are also taken into account. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Walker, Charles F. Shaky Colonialism: The 1746 Earthquake-Tsunami in Lima, Peru, and Its Long Aftermath. Duke and London: Duke University Press, 2008.

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    This monograph focuses on the social and political aftermath of the 1746 earthquake that devastated the city of Lima, as the Spanish Crown tried to establish firm control over those social sectors seen as responsible for precipitating the disaster.

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South America

Bell 2004 summarizes the life and research of French naturalist Aimé Bonpland in southern South America, and Bell 2010 is the biography Bonpland, whose life work was dedicated to investigating botany on the borders of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay in the 19th century. Prieto 2009 chronicles the social and environmental consequences of massive flooding along the Paraná River during the colonial period.

  • Bell, Stephen. “Individual Agency and Ecological Imperialism: Aimé Bonpland in Southern South America.” In Territories, Commodities, and Knowledges: Latin American Environmental Histories in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Edited by Christian Brannstrom, 247–272. London: Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2004.

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    A biographical sketch of the French naturalist Aimé Bonpland, this article documents the botanical explorations and tribulations the scientist faced in South America between 1799 until his death in 1858. His work in the Entre Ríos region of Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil was the most extensive in the period, but Bonpland was eclipsed in the literature by his more famous colleague and collaborator, Alexander von Humboldt.

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  • Bell, Stephen. A Life in Shadow: Aimé Bonpland in Southern South America, 1817–1858. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010.

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    This book is a biography of Aimé Bonpland, Alexander von Humboldt’s colleague on the scientific expeditions (1799–1804) that made the later famous. Bonpland returned to South America during the wars for independence and remained there until his death at age 85. He dedicated his life to exploring the botanical wonders on the Argentina‑Brazil–Paraguay border, which he catalogued and promoted.

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  • Prieto, María del Rosario. “The Paraná River Floods During the Spanish Colonial Period: Impact and Responses,” In Natural Disasters, Cultural Responses: Case Studies Toward a Global Environmental History. Edited by Christof Mauch and Christian Pfister, 285–303. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2009.

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    This article documents several cases of extraordinary flooding in the De La Plata River Basin, shared by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, in the 17th and 18th centuries. The author focuses on the environmental consequences of the flooding and the cultural responses of the indigenous population who survived the floods and the political responses of Spanish colonial authorities and missionaries.

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Venezuela

Gassón 2007 uses a world-system approach to chronicle the history of land use in the Venezuelan llanos from the pre-Hispanic era through the 20th century. Kozloff 2004 documents the environmental changes that the oil industry precipitated along Lake Maracaibo in the 1920s and 1930s. Perri 2009 documents the environmental, social, and political effects of depleting the pearl-producing oyster beds off the coast of Venezuela between 1518 and 1530. See also Dore 2000 (cited under Andes) for a history of the environmental and labor consequences of mining in Latin America from the colonial era until the present, which includes 20th-century Venezuela.

  • Gassón, Rafael A. “Steps to an Environmental History of the Western Llanos of Venezuela: A World-System Perspective.” In Rethinking Environmental History: World-System History and Global Enviromental Change. Edited by Alf Hornborg, J. R. McNeill, and Joan Martínez-Alier, 163–177. Lanham: Altamira Press, 2007.

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    This article reviews the history of the western llanos of Venezuela from the pre-Columbian era to the early 20th century from a world-system perspective, focusing on the forms of production that successive waves of humans practiced and the ways that they utilized the lowland savannas. The author includes agriculture, cattle ranching, tobacco farming, feather harvesting, and the oil industry.

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  • Kozloff, Nikolas. “From Lakeshore Village to Oil Boom Town: Lagunillas under Venezuelan Dictator Juan Vicente Gózmez, 1908–1935.” In Territories, Commodities, and Knowledges: Latin American Environmental Histories in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Edited by Christian Brannstrom, 90–120. London: Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2004.

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    This article documents the environmental transformations that the village of Lagunillas, on the shores of Maracaibo Lake, Venezuela, underwent as a result of an oil boom in the first three decades of the 20th century. The author includes the effects of setting up refineries, spills, and fires, in addition to the political unrest arising out of relocating local inhabitants and subjecting them to pollution and the risk of explosions.

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  • Perri, Michael. “‘Ruined and Lost’: Spanish Destruction of the Pearl Coast in the Early Sixteenth Century.” Environment and History 15.2 (May 2009): 129–161.

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    This article documents the brief history of Spanish exploitation of the oyster beds off the coast of Venezuela, around the islands of Cubagua, Coche, and Margarita. Pearl extraction began c. 1518 and was exhausted by 1530. The use of slave labor created such resistance among indigenous peoples that they effectively prevented colonization until the 1680s. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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LAST MODIFIED: 10/29/2013

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199766581-0077

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