Cultural Ecology Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers

Cultural Ecology Newsletter

(CEN #35 -- Spring 2000)

Editor: Simon Batterbury

Last Updated: 4th Sept. 2000


Name Change?
Obituaries - Adam Kolff, Barney Nietschmann
Listserve, New Slate of Officers - message from Outgoing Chair
Cultural Ecologists in Science
Annual Meetings: Pittsburgh 2000

Calls: Conferences, meetings, publications

Many, including AAG 2001



Meeting Reports

Nature, Society and History

Members' News

White, Kuhlken, Bridge, Doolittle
New Hires

Book Reviews & Notes

Batterbury on Mortimore
McCook on Grossman
Pavri on Khare,

New Books



Name Change?

The Group is considering changing its name to reflect new themes and issues in the study of human-environment relationships. A debate was last held on this in 1991 (read some debate here). To participate in the vigorous debate, join our listserve, which is introduced in an item below this one. The listserve is located at

Necrology: Adam Kolff

Adam Kolff, PhD student in Geography at the University of Colorado, Boulder, was one of four people killed in a single-engine Cessna 185 that crashed in Alaska, at about 3,000 feet near the junction of the Yentna and Lacuna glaciers west of Mount McKinley. The wreckage was discovered on the 21st of June 2000. The pilot was carrying three park rangers headed for duty at McKinley's Kahiltna base camp, where Kolff (27), an accomplished climber and mountaineer, was working as a volunteer climbing ranger. Before beginning graduate study, he spent three years in Peru working with an NGO, The Mountain Institute, and planned to carry our his doctoral work in Alaska. The cause of the crash is unknown, and the National Transportation Safety Board has initiated an investigation. Alaska Park Service spokeswoman Jane Tranel said; "The whole situation is just everyone's worst nightmare." "I don't think I worked with anyone in this group who wasn't first class." "Anyone who volunteers to do this has a big heart." Our commiserations to family and friends.

Adam's Masters, entitled  "The Political Ecology of Mining and Marginalization in the Peruvian Andes: A Case Study of the Cordillera Huayhuash" (2000) may be read online.

Necrology: Barney Nietschmann

It is with enormous sadness and regret that we report the untimely death of Professor Barney Nietschmann of the Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley in January 2000, following a protracted illness. Barney was a major figure in the field of cultural ecology, marine conservation, and more recently the embattled politics of indigenous peoples. Born in 1941 in Illinois, he trained at Madison in the 1960's, he subsequently came to the University of Michigan and immediately fell in with an extraordinary group of anthropologists including Eric Wolf, Marshall Sahlins and Mick Taussig, before moving to Berkeley in 1977. His first book -- Between Land and Water -- remains a classic in the field. It reveals all of Barney's strengths in profusion: a wonderful writing style, a magnificent integration of image and text, a theoretical sophistication, and scintillating field work. He subsequently went on to work in Torres Strait, and on a number of marine conservation projects around the world. "If you're interested in cultural diversity, you have to be interested in biological diversity, because nature is the scaffolding of culture - it's why people are the way they are. If you're interested in environments, you have to be interested in culture." Nietschmann said in a 1992 Audubon magazine article. Nietschmann fought to preserve Miskito culture and environments. In 1982 and 1983, he surreptitiously entered Nicaragua and traveled around with rebel Indian fighters, later returning and spreading word of their resistance. He weathered criticism for his political involvement, at a time when the U.S. government was engaged in covert war against the Sandinista government. He fought to establish a protected Miskito homeland, which came to fruition in 1991 when President Violeta de Chamorro created territorial boundaries for the Miskito people and set aside a 4,000-square-mile Miskito Coast Protected Area as a refuge for the people and the diverse flora and fauna of the area. Barney's wit, intellect and marvelous sense of humor with be sadly missed among many constituencies. A compelling and brilliant teacher, his Islands and Oceans course was a fixture for any undergraduate with an interest in nature, culture and conservation. Our most profound condolences are extended to his wife and family. Further details are available here.

Information supplied by Michael Watts

Nietschmann was awarded the Group's Netting award following his death. 

A brief Bibliography:

Nietschmann, Bernard. 1997 Protecting Indigenous Coral Reefs and Sea Territories, Miskito Coast, RAAN, Nicaragua. in 'Conservation Through Cultural Survival', Stan Stevens, ed., Island Press, Washington, D.C, pp. 193-224.

Nietschmann, Bernard. 1994 The Fourth World: Nations Versus States, in 'Reordering the World: Geopolitical Perspectives on the Twenty-First Century', George J. Demko and William Wood, eds., Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, pp. 225-242.

Nietschmann, Bernard. 1995 Defending the Miskito Reefs with Maps and GPS: Mapping with Sail, Scuba and Satellite. Cultural Survival Quarterly, 18:4,34-37.

Nietschmann, Bernard. 1993 A Fourth World Revolution: With Yapti Tasba Guerrillas Fighting the Sandinista Occupation. Freedom House & University Press, New York.

Nietschmann, Bernard. 1993 Nicaragua's New Environmental Alliance for Indian-Latin America, Research and Exploration, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp. 270-271.

Nietschmann, Bernard. 1989 The unknown war: the Miskito nation, Nicaragua, and the United States New York : Freedom House & University Press, New York.

Nietschmann, Bernard. 1979. Carribean Edge: the coming of modern times to isolated people and wildlife.

Nietschmann, Bernard.1973 Between land and water : the subsistence ecology of the Miskito Indians, eastern Nicaragua New York : Seminar Press.

Listserve, and notes from the outgoing Chair Dear CESG Members: I am delighted to announce that the Cultural Ecology Specialty Group now has its own listserve, thanks to the efforts of Andrew Sluyter at Penn State. The listserve will greatly facilitate communication among CESG members and, we hope, provide a useful forum for the discussion of ideas, news and views on matters of interest to cultural ecologists. Andrew has provided some important explanation below on how the list will work.

I also want to introduce our Board for 2000-2002, as elected at the Pittsburgh meetings. Andrew Sluyter (Penn State) will serve our new Chair and he's accompanied by Thom Whitmore (UNC) as Secretary-Treasurer. Our regional councilors are Barbara Brower (Portland State, Western region), Karl Offen (Oklahoma, Central region), and Michael Steinberg (Southern Main, Eastern region). Our graduate student representative is David Carr (UNC). Congradulations to all! Contact information and photos are available here.

In closing, I wish to thank all of those who served on CESG's behalf over the past three years. Special thanks to our out-going Board (Emily Young, Sec-Treasurer; Tony Bebbington, Western region; Paul Robbins, Central; Julie Fischer, Eastern; and, Eric Keys, Grad rep) for their energy and commitment, to Simon Batterbury -- our indefatigable Newsletter Editor and webpage master -- for all of his efforts on our behalf, and to Andrew Sluyter for enabling us to communicate through the listserve, and for accepting to be our new Chair. With best wishes for a pleasant and productive summer.
Oliver Coomes, Chair, AAG Cultural Ecology Specialty Group (1998-2000).

The CESG Listserv (AAG-CESG-L) is for general exchange of information, news, views, debate, questions and answers by the members of the specialty group.All current CESG members have been subscribed to the list. You can manage your subscription and see past messages at For all queries, email Only list members (CESG members) can post messages. To do so, send your message to the list address: AAG-CESG-L@LISTS.PSU.EDU. Everyone on the list will receive your message so please ensure that the subject line is informative, and the content is appropriate. Contributions sent to this list are automatically archived for posterity.

Cultural Ecologists in Science

Cultural Ecology, CLAG and Latin American AAG specialty group members were showcased in Science no. 287 (Feb. 4, 2000) []. A four page piece addresses the earthworks in Beni Bolivia and "black earth" in the Amazon basin in terms of their implications for prehistory. Prominently cited are William Denevan (CESG Netting Award Winner), Nigel Smith, and William Woods (see CEN 33).

Essay Competition

Prize Essay Competition, UK Agricultural Economics Society. £250 Prize to be presented at Harper Adams University College and winning entry published in the Journal of Agricultural Economics. Author must be within six years of first graduation, or if non-graduate, under 30. Subject may deal with any aspect of agricultural economics and must be sole work and original. To be submitted by 31 December 2000. For further details: (+44) (0)1825 765353, Fax: 01825 766945 or Email:

Annual Meetings: Pittsburgh, April 2000

Sessions presented at the Pittsburgh AAG meetings (4-8th April 2000) include a major retropective 'millennial' session on the fields of cultural and political ecology, attended hundreds of people. Some of the relevant sessions were are as follows:

Reflections on Cultural/Political Ecology I: Paths Taken, Directions Forged. [Millennial session]. Organizer and Chair: Oliver Coomes, (McGill).
Panellists: Billie Lee Turner (Clark), Mike Watts (Berkeley), Karl Butzer (Texas), Piers Blaikie (East Anglia). Discussant: Tony Bebbington (Colorado/World Bank).

Reflections on Cultural/Political Ecology II: Which Direction Now? Organizer and Chair: Paul Robbins, (Ohio State). Panellists
Simon Batterbury (LSE), Emily Young (U Arizona), Juanita Sundberg (U of British Columbia), Brad Jokisch (Ohio U), Paul Robbins (Ohio State U), Ken MacDonald (U of Iowa), Rheyna Laney (Sonoma State U).

Political ecologies and alternative developments I: Power, livelihoods, social capital. Organizers, Chairs: Tony Bebbington (Colorado/World Bank) and Raymond Bryant (King's, London).

Robin Mearns (the World Bank); Anthony Bebbington (Colorado/the World Bank);
Sarah J. Halvorson (Colorado);. Dianne Rocheleau (Clark);

Political ecologies and alternative developments II: Social capital, cultural capital, moral capital. . Discussant: Michael Watts (Berkeley) Jeffrey T. Bury (Colorado); Raymond L. Bryant (King's, London); Thomas Perreault (Colorado/Syracuse);

Mixed Landscapes, Mixed Methods I. Organizer: Paul Robbins, (Ohio State). Discussant - Andrew Warren (UCL). Tom Bassett (Illinois), Rheyna Laney (Sonoma State), Emma Archer (Clark), Matt Turner (Wisconsin)

Mixed Landscapes, Mixed Methods II. Organizer : Paul Robbins, (Ohio State). Discussant - Karl Zimmerer (Wisconsin). Paul Robbins (Ohio State), Belinda Dodson (Queens), Simon Batterbury (LSE), Kevin St. Martin (Clark), Eric Perramond (Stetson).

Political environments in the developing world. Organizer: Gary Gaile (Colorado). Gary Gaile, Betsy Olsen, Adam Kolff, Brian H King (all at Colorado)

Calls; conferences, meetings, publications

AAG New York Feb 2001 - Calls for papers

Several people have asked how to have a session sponsored by a specialty group. You'll need to e-mail the specialty group chair(s) [me] the request -- including the session title, organizer, and chair. On the group participation form, you'll need to fill out the specialty group name in the section called "name of sponsoring organization." I'll circulate the agreed list of CESG (co)sponsored sessions before the meetings . Andrew Sluyter

Indigenous Geography-- Call for Papers. The standardization and dissemination of modern-western geographical concepts and worldviews over the past few hundred years has overshadowed indigenous ways of knowing that developed over millenia. Those of us who are engaged with indigenous systems recognize the unique value they have as culturally encoded and observationally acute languages and systems, containing enormous information about both peoples and their environments. The Indigenous Peoples Specialty Group (formerly the American Indian Specialty Group) is proud to sponsor one or more paper sessions on issues in Indigenous Geography. This is an invitation to geographers and others who are indigenous people, or who are working closely on indigenous ways of knowing, in any region of the world, to come together to discuss and share. Issues that may be addressed by his forum included --exploring the nature and value of indigenous geographic and environmental knowledge, --problems of research on indigenous geography, --issues pertaining to colonization (past and present) including ongoing land and resource disputes based on conflicting geographic and cultural systems, --the interface of indigenous geography with modern geographic tools and technology, --indigenous geography and education, --or simply the presentation of specific indigenous worldviews. Interested persons should contact RDK Herman of Towson University/The Pacific Worlds Project: Abstracts and materials must be received in time to submit before the 1 September, 2000 deadline. RDK Herman "Pacific Worlds" Geography & Env. Planning Towson University Linthicum Hall, Room 18 Towson University Towson, Maryland 21252-0001 t. 202-352-2100 f. 410-830-4702 , USA

The next generation: graduate student papers in cultural/political ecology This session sets out to provide a focused arena for graduate students undertaking research in a cultural/political ecology context to present either their research findings or their proposed doctoral research. In bringing together several graduate students in one session it is hoped that not only will they receive valuable feedback upon their work, but that it will also showcase the work and ideas of future practitioners within the field of cultural/political ecology. The session builds upon the retrospective sessions organized in Pittsburgh by recognizing those who will help establish the focus and direction of future theoretical and methodological questions in our field. Papers by either Masters or Ph.D. students would be welcomed. It is also expected that Ph.D. students currently preparing their proposals consider submitting, as the session will provide time for questions, suggestions and feedback that might benefit the author at such an early stage of the research process. The papers in the session need not have any common theme, other than that they define either the work or approach as being expressly influenced by either cultural or political ecology. Papers that focus on either the developed or developing world or rural or urban contexts are welcome. The session will be sponsored by the CESG and will be chaired by the current president, Andrew Sluyter (Penn State University). If interested please contact either Andres Guhl or Robert Daniels as soon as possible. Title, abstracts, fees etc. (all in accordance with AAG rules for submission) will be need to be sent to Andres Guhl by August 15th. -- Andres Guhl Department of Geography University of Florida.

Beyond the social construction of nature: re-thinking political economy and environment Organisers: Gavin Bridge (University of Oklahoma), Terry Marsden (University of Cardiff), and Phil McManus (University of Sydney). It is now over a decade since Margaret Fitzsimmons provocatively placed the 'matter of nature' within the sights of a politically engaged human geography (Fitzsimmons, M. 1989. The Matter of Nature. Antipode 21(2):106-120). Since that time there has been a vibrant engagement with the social construction of nature as geographers (among others) have sought to uncover the material and discursive practices through which nature has been historically produced, consumed, and regulated. Recent work from fields as diverse as political ecology, ecological modernization theory, agrarian restructuring, regulation theory, environmental history, and ecological marxism suggests that this 'turn to nature' is changing the way we think about political economy. One of the results is that nature is now being taken seriously in accounts of political-economic transition. The objective of these sessions is to take stock of this critical 're-naturing' of political economy and to chart possible future research directions and approaches. We invite papers that explore the integration of nature into theories of production, consumption, and regulation. Of particular interest are papers that link theorization with accounts of contemporary or historical events by either deriving theory from, or evaluate existing theory against, concrete circumstances. Papers could seek to do this, for example, through case studies of restructuring in selected industries, through environmental histories of political-economic change in specific regions, or by comparing the analytical leverage of different theoretical frameworks in particular contexts. If you would like to participate, please send a 250 word abstract to one of the three organizers by August 1 2000. Gavin Bridge, University of Oklahoma, United States gbridge@ou.eduTerry Marsden, University of Cardiff, United Kingdom Phil McManus, University of Sydney, Australia

Godzilla meets Bambi - (GIS meets soc. theory) is a session that might be organised by Bill Turner, Clark University!

Seeking Common Ground. Roundtable session being organised by Andrew Sluyter [sluyter@GIS.PSU.EDU]

Integrating Biophysical and Social-political Approaches to Environmental Change: Theoretical and Empirical Challenges and Prospects. Concern over environmental changes from global warming, water resources, to deforestation and soil erosion has escalated during the past few decades. Geographers from several different sub-disciplines have addressed these issues including: climatology, remote sensing, biogeography, and cultural and political ecology. One consensus arising out of these various approaches is the need for integrating biophysical and social-political analyses of environmental change. Papers are sought that attempt such a synthesis and address the theoretical and methodological challenges of this work. Theoretical papers that make reference to empirical work are particularly encouraged but not required. Please contact Andrea Nightingale for more information and to submit abstracts. All materials must be received by August 25, 2000. Sponsored by the Cultural Ecology Specialty Group.

Conservation and Development Territories in Africa and Latin America. Tom Bassett and Karl Zimmerer. Detail soon.

Property Regimes "Buffalo kindle land war: Lack of good fences make angry neighbors" ; "A scary attempt to nab public's land" ; "California and the West; preservationists, builders tug at Coachella valley" . Headlines such as these from nationally recognized newspapers are becoming commonplace. Both academia and the general public have debated for years over the "best," most "efficient," or most "sustainable" type of property-rights regime. On the theoretical side, the arguments tap into Hardin, environmental economics, common property theory and institutional ecology, among others. On the practical side, it is individuals who must comply with the rules and regulatory mechanisms that encompass a particular property regime; with the very real potential of impacting their daily livelihoods. How exactly do property regimes matter, to whom, and how do they impact the environmental landscape? What conditions are necessary for a property regime to work effectively? Papers relevant to the above outlined issues, from both developed and developing country contexts, addressing a variety of resource types (from fresh water and fisheries, to land, forests etc.), and institutional settings, are welcome. Paul Robbins (Ohio State University) will serve as discussant for this session. If interested, please contact me by email - Title, abstract, fees etc. will need to be sent to me by August 20 . Firooza Pavri, Emporia State University, Department of Geography, Emporia, Kansas 66801, USA.

Cultural and Political Ecology in an Urban and Industrial World - Cultural and Political Ecology, with its focus on the social regulation of nutrient and energy flows, the economic structures of land management decision-making, and the power-laden patterns of resource access and transformation, is uniquely positioned to examine urban environments and developed contexts. Here, land managers, corporate firms, households, and individuals all struggle and cooperate to adapt the landscape and transform the ecological systems on which they depend. The papers in this session bring the approaches of cultural and political ecology to developed, industrial, and urban contexts to address the pressing and puzzling questions of these diverse environments. Contact Paul Robbins, Ohio State,

Soils in Archaeological and Cultural Context Organizers Tim Beach (Georgetown University) and Nicholas Dunning (University of Cincinnati). Many geoscientists, archaeologists, cultural ecologists, and others are working on interdisciplinary problems of soils in archaeological and cultural ecological contexts. For the fourth time in the last eight years, this special session invites papers from anyone in these disciplines with recent and ongoing field work to take part. Topics can range from interdisciplinary studies of indigenous soil fertility, techniques of indigenous, intensive agriculture, soil conservation, soil enhancement, soils geomorphology and archaeological evidence, sustainability, landscape remediation, and cultural ecology. Most papers thus far are about soils and archaeology in the Neotropics, but we encourage a wider variety of papers on topics from around the world. Each paper has 20 minutes for presentation and discussion, and each session is 100 minutes in duration. In our previous meetings, we have usually had three sessions. If you wish to register for this session, please send Tim Beach (at the address listed below) a packet that includes the AAG registration form ( available at the AAG website, a check for the Program Participation fee made out to the AAG, and your abstract on diskette (Word or Wordperfect) and on paper. We will collect all the packets, organize them into sessions, and send them to the AAG central office by the AAG's September 1st due date. Due Date: 28 August 2000 Send Registration Materials to: Tim Beach (out of the USA between 7-25 and 8-10-2000) Director, Center for the Environment Program in Science, Technology, and International Affairs School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University 37th and O Streets Washington, D.C. 22307

Special Session on Mountain Geography. Whether your work is Human, Physical, Techniques, Methods or somewhere in-between, no matter. As long as it pertains to things mountain, your work is welcome. We are also open to co-sponsoring sessions with other specialty groups. If you are interested in this, please contact me directly. DEADLINE: 25 AUGUST 1999. Donald A. Friend, Ph.D. Chair, Mountain Geography Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers Assistant Professor of Geography Director of Earth Science Programs Department of Geography Minnesota State University Armstrong Hall 7 Mankato, MN 56001 USA 507-389-2618 office 507-389-2980 fax

Hello All, As you are thinking about the AAG meetings, please consider whether you would like to participate in one of these panels proposed by Ben Wisner or act on one of the other options for participation. Remember the deadline is September 1. 1. "Big City Blues: Worst Case Urban Hazards in the 21st Century" 2. Natural Hazards and Public Health 3. The Political Economy of Hazards. If one of these captures your interest please contact Ben Wisner (Oberlin College) soon. He will be traveling beginning in mid-August.

At last year's meetings, there were a number of papers addressing vulnerability to environmental variability in a variety of sessions. This year I thought it would be interesting to give the conceptual interest in vulnerability priority so I am organizing a session. If you are interested in presenting a paper in a session focused on bringing together the most recent work in that area. Please contact me. Thanks, Kirstin Dow Assistant Professor Department of Geography, University of South Carolina Columbia, SC 29208, USA Tel (803) 777-2482; Fax (803) 777-4972

Agricultural Change and Landscape Transformations. This session focuses on the relationship between human driving forces andlandscape change in agricultural landscapes, with micro- and meso-scale case studies that explore ways to link trajectories ofagricultural change and/or land management systems with land-cover change,with or without the use of GIS and remote-sensing technology.Co-Organizers: Rheyna Laney, Sonoma State--Brad Jokisch, Ohio Univ.

Historical Ecology--Methods and Applications. Papers that use both ecological and historical records to better answer a particular question, or (2) revisit an ecological questionusing historical records, or (3) revisit a historical question using ecological records. Steve Norman -

Gardens as Cultural Survival/Gardens as Resistance. The objective of this session is to place urban gardens/urban agriculture within a framework of current debates in cities: linkages between the local and the global; multiculturalism and identity; growth machines and movements of resistance. Papers could be ethnographies or case studies of cities in the South or North, theoretical or policy related. This session focuses on gardens as cultural landscapes and as strategies of resistance in a global economy. Urban gardens are a survival strategy in cities of the South and North; in global cities with multicultural populations, gardens are also sites for the creation of cultural landscapes and transmission of indigenous knowledge. Gardens may also become the sites of contestation between conflicting visions of how vacant land might be used. The garden battles in New York city exemplify the conflicts over land for growing controlled by local communities vs. land for capital accumulation. Gerda R. Wekerle Faculty of Environmental Studies York University


Cusco 2001. Conservation of Biodiversity in the Andes and Amazon Basin - linking science, NGOs and indigenous people. call for papers and proposals. This international interdisciplinary conference in Cusco, Peru will deal with the conservation of biodiversity in the Andes and Amazon Basin with focus on Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. These countries have enormous cultural and natural diversity. Biodiversity reaches its peak in the complex tropical mountain forests on the slopes of the Andes, which have been declared as "Biodiversity-Hotspots" . Ecosystems are threatened by logging, burning, grazing or other land-use activities. The main objective is to stimulate an exchange of knowledge and viewpoints between scientists, NGOs and indigenous peoples. Investigators are invited to present papers, and NGOs should present their project experiences in endangered areas. Indigenous and local peoples will talk about their development needs and the environment. Themes: 1. Biodiversity of the tropical regions in South America (with focus on Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia) 2. How is science contributing to the conservation of biodiversity? 3. Deficits of science and knowledge - from the viewpoint of NGOs and indigenous people 4. How are NGOs contributing to the conservation of biodiversity? 5. Chances and risks of ecotourism for the conservation of diversity and a sustainable development 6. Cultural integrity - ecotourism from the viewpoint of indigenous people. 7. Traditional land-use-forms and knowledge about medical plant use 8. Development versus intellectual property rights. Dates: 24th - 28th September 2001 in Cusco, Peru. Organized by the International Network for the Conservation of Biological and Cultural Diversity INKA e.V. (Munich, Germany) and the Fundacion Cientifica San Francisco FCSF (San Diego, USA), which runs a research station in the mountain forests of southern Ecuador. Call for interest and papers - go to and fill out the form in English or Español, or fax (++49 - 89 -45 91 19 20), or contact

GEODERMA Special publication. Local Soil Knowledge: Insights, Applications and Challenges. Guest Editors: A. M. G. A. WinklerPrins, Michigan State University (coordinating guest editor) J. Sandor, Iowa State University (guest editor) N. Barrera-Bassols, Instituto de Ecología, Xalapa, Veracruz, México (guest editor) and K. McSweeney, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Geoderma, editorial board)
We invite contributions from authors working creatively and innovatively on the topic, especially those concentrating on efforts to:
* Contribute original research in the field of local soil knowledge/ ethnopedology;
* Link local knowledge of the soil with socio-economic, political, and/ or historical contexts;
* Focus on the ideas and concepts that underlie soil knowledge;
* Seek ways of integrating local and scientific soil knowledge;
* Broaden local soil knowledge to include related areas such as geomorphic processes and the soil landscape; and also perspectives from archaeology, anthropology, geography, ecology, and other fields;
* Explore local soil knowledge in relation to sustainable land-use;
* Connect local soil knowledge with soil fertility maintenance and soil and water conservation;
* Investigate local perceptions of soil erosion and/ or degradation;
* Connect local knowledge of soil micro-variability with crop diversity.

Deadline for submission is Wednesday October 18, 2000. Please discuss manuscripts with: Antoinette WinklerPrins Department of Geography Michigan State University 315 Natural Science, East Lansing, MI 48824-1115 USA

Society for Human Ecology XIth International Conference Snow King Resort, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, U.S.A. October 18 - 22, 2000. The theme is "Democracy and Sustainability: Adaptive Planning and Management". The concerns of Human Ecology are distinctly interdisciplinary and transnational. SHE-XI will bring together researchers from communities around the world whose concerns are the enrichment of human well-being and the concomitant protection of environmental quality. This call invites proposals for Symposia, Paper Sessions and Workshops, Round Table Discussions, and Poster Sessions. For conference planning purposes, the deadline for group proposals was May 15th, and the deadline for specific presentation titles and abstracts will be June 30th 2000. If you plan to attend, organize a session, develop a round table, or organize a workshop or symposium, please reply at your earliest possible opportunity. SHE-XI is
being held in one of the most beautiful mountain environments in North America. please contact: Dr. Jonathan G. Taylor, C/O Social, Economic, and Institutional Analysis Section MESC / USGS 4512 McMurry Ave. Fort Collins, CO. 80525 Phone: [970] 226-9438 FAX: [970] 226-9230 e-mail: See To be placed on the mailing list, please contact: Ms Barbara Carter, Society for Human Ecology, College of the Atlantic 105 Eden St. Bar Harbor, ME 04609 Phone: [208] 288-5015 FAX: [207] 288-4126.

Journal of Ethnobiology. Mike Steinberg, University of Southern Maine is seeking book reviews for the Journal of Ethnobiology. Topics related to cultural ecology in any region are welcome. If someone wants him to get a book for them, he may be contacted on

International Congress of Ethnobiology - "Ethnobiology, Biocultural Diversity, and Benefits Sharing". 23-27 October 2000, University of Georgia Athens, Georgia, U.S.A. The ISE 7th Congress Planning Committee calls for symposia and/or papers on: Ethnobiology of human health, Intellectual
property rights and ethnobiological research, Conservation of biological and cultural diversity, sustainable development of plant resources, collaborative research protocols, benefits sharing and drug discovery, and initiatives by indigenous, traditional, and local communities and scientists to conserve biological diversity. The Congress will be preceded by a number of Training Workshops, which focus on topics relevant to particular geographical areas or specialized interests. WORKSHOP TOPICS: Prior informed consent, Ethnobotany and education, Balancing local preservation and global benefit sharing, people and plants: cultural perspectives on conservation: Ethnobiological knowledge and public health, ecological change, cultural transition, and human health and other volunteered topics. Please send your abstracts (no more than 500 words) before July 1, 2000, by e-mail (preferred) to John R. Stepp Department of Anthropology The University of Georgia 250 Baldwin Hall Athens, GA 30602-1619, USA. For more information please check our website at


Job at Berkeley. Environmental and Development Sociology. The Energy and Resources Group (ERG) at the University of California, Berkeley seeks a Ph.D. in sociology, anthropology, geography or related discipline whose emphasis is on the social dimensions of energy, resources and/or the environment to fill a junior faculty, tenure track position starting 2001-02. ERG is a graduate program comprising natural and social scientists engaged in a multidisciplinary program of research, education, and public service on the social, economic, technical, and scientific dimensions of energy, resources, and the environment. The appointee will stay abreast of a broad range of social developments related to the program, undertake specific research (for example, on resource extraction conflicts, social movements, environmental justice, etc.), and seek an integrative perspective. Field research experience and the ability to teach field methods are critical. In addition to the course on research methods, the appointee will provide additional courses complementing her or his research interests, be encouraged to co-teach with faculty in the natural sciences or engineering, and oversee graduate seminars and student-initiated reading groups. The nature of the position and the qualities of the individual selected should lead to substantial public and professional service. A curriculum vitae, a letter articulating the scope of the applicants interest in and qualifications for this position, and a dossier including three letters of recommendation, should be sent to: Chair of the Social Science Search Committee, Energy and Resources Group, MC #3050, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94720-3050. Deadline for receipt is October 15, 2000. The University of California is an Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer. Energy and Resources Group Tel 510-642-1640 310 Barrows Hall Fax 510-642-1085.

Job at Nottingham, UK. Postdoctoral Research Associate, School of Geography, University of Nottingham, UK Applications are invited for the above post funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB) on a project entitled 'Agrarian Responses to extreme climatic events in colonial Mexico: 1521-1821', directed by Dr Georgina H Endfield and Dr Sarah L O'Hara. Candidates should have a doctorate in a relevant field and experience in archival research. The person appointed must be prepared to spend extensive periods of time working in both regional and national archives in Mexico. Preference will be given to candidates who are fluent in both Spanish and English (verbal and written). Salary will be within the range £16,286 - £18,185 per annum (under review), depending on qualifications and experience. This post is available from 1 October 2000 and will be offered on a fixed-term contract for a period of three years. Informal enquiries may be addressed to Dr Endfield, tel: 0115 951 5731, or Dr O'Hara, tel: 0115 951 4381, Sarah.O' Candidates should send a detailed CV, together with the names and addresses of two referees, to Dr G H Endfield, School of Geography, The University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD. Closing date: 27 July 2000.

CIESIN visiting scientist program. The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University seeks applications for its visiting scientist program. The program is part of CIESIN's Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) and is targeted at scientists working on areas relevant to SEDAC's core mission to facilitate integration of Earth science and social science data to help understand human interactions in the environment. We are especially interested in applicants seeking creative ways to integrate cross-disciplinary, cross-scale datasets to understand the human dimensions of environmental change. CIESIN is a unit of the Columbia University Earth Institute, with offices at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York (about 30 kilometers north of Manhattan). The International Council of Scientific Unions has designated CIESIN as the World Data Center for Human Interactions in the Environment. SEDAC is one of eight Distributed Active Archive Centers in the Earth Observing System Data and Information System of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Further information on CIESIN and SEDAC may be found at and Visiting scientists will be in residence from two to three months at CIESIN at a mutually agreeable time between September 2000 and August 2001. Supplemental financial support is available. Visiting scientists will have access to CIESIN's computing facilities and data and information resources and will be expected to interact with CIESIN's interdisciplinary staff. Please submit your curriculum vitae, including names and contact information for at least two references, and a two-page (or less) description of the project you propose to work on as a visiting scientist. A Ph.D. in a relevant discipline is required and postdoctoral research experience or equivalent is preferred. Please indicate any preferences you have for the time period of residence, as well as any financial needs. Review of applications will begin 15 August 2000. Visiting Scientist Program CIESIN Columbia University PO Box 1000, 61 Route 9W Palisades, NY 10964 USA Tel: (1-845) 365-8988 Fax: (1-845) 365-8922 email:

EARTHWATCH INSTITUTE/THE CENTER FOR FIELD RESEARCH Program Director, Social Sciences. Develop, review, negotiate and recommend field research proposals in social sciences for funding by Earthwatch Institute. Assists in partnership development, field science program planning and project evaluation. International field research experience and computer skills essential; strong knowledge of and networks in national and international scientific and environmental communities important. Background in social science perspectives on natural resource management, public health/medical anthropology, environmental anthropology, and/or applied cultural anthropology. Ph.D. strongly preferred. Send resumes to: Creighton Peet, Earthwatch Institute, The Center for Field Research, PO Box 75, Maynard, MA 01754 or, preferably, e-mail to:

Job at Clark Postdoctoral Research Position. The George Perkins Marsh Institute of Clark University seeks a highly qualified research scholar to take a leading role in developing a new initiative on understanding of human vulnerability to global/environmental change, with a specific emphasis on land and land use. We particularly seek broadly educated candidates open to linkages among diverse theoretical and disciplinary approaches, and capable of working with diverse research teams of social scientists, ecologists, and integrated modelers. In the initiative at hand, the Institute's internal "vulnerability" effort joins an inter-institutional project that involves research teams from Harvard and Stanford, and individuals from the Stockholm Environment Institute and Potsdam Institute in a two-year examination of linking vulnerability, sustainability, and decision science. Substantive expertise includes but is not limited to climate impact analysis, risk/hazards research, and cultural/political ecology. Strong analytic and writing skills are essential, and a background in quantitative analysis, geographic information systems, and/or modeling is helpful. Candidates should preferably hold the Ph.D. in one of the social sciences, have demonstrated strong research capabilities, and possess the ability to work collegially and in a team context. The position is for two years' duration, beginning in September 2000, at a salary of $36,000. Interested parties should contact Clark immediately by internet ( + cc Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Candidates should submit, either by internet, fax (508-751-4600), or mail, a letter of application, curriculum vitae, and the names of three references. B. L. Turner II & O.Taylor George Perkins Marsh Institute Clark University Worcester, MA 01601, USA.

Job at Texas Tech.Two tenure-track Assistant Professor positions, beginning Fall 2001. We invite applications from HUMAN GEOGRAPHERS with sub-specialties open. One or both positions will involve teaching a large (~200 students) section of World Regional Geography; other classes will match the successful candidates' interests. Teaching load is 9 hours/semester. Quality scholarship and teaching are required for tenure. Expertise in Human-Environment Interactions, Economic Geography, and/or Latin America will be viewed favorably. The Geography program at Texas Tech is small, congenial, and currently has no graduate program. The faculty, however, teach graduate courses and work with graduate students and faculty from throughout the University. There are large-scale interdisciplinary research programs at the University in natural hazards (especially wind-related), Latin American and Iberian studies, arid lands studies, and environmental health. Please send a letter of application, vita, and names and addresses (postal and e-mail) of three references. Screening of applicants will begin on 1 December. Texas Tech University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and is sensitive to the needs of dual career couples. Apply: Chair, Geography Search Committee, Department of Economics and Geography, Texas Tech University Lubbock, Texas 79409-1014, USA. Gary Elbow: Voice mail: (806) 742-3838, ext. 244 FAX: (806) 742-1137 E-mail:

Assistant/Associate Professor, University of Arizona, 2001. Advert here.

Meeting Reports

"Nature, Society and History" Long Term Dynamics of Social Metabolism. September 30 to October 2, 1999 Vienna, Austria. A post-conference report on this large, well-funded, and interdisciplinary conference built around human ecology and environmental history is available
here as a post-conference report to funders. The meeting brought together researchers from several continents, and combined innovative social activities and discussions with poster and oral presentations on land use, environmental health, indigenous knowledge, and conceptions of nature. CEN readers and friendly faces spotted at the meeting included Nayna Jhaveri (Washington), Emilio Moran (Indiana), Bernhard Glaeser (Berlin), a team from Madison led by Paul Voss, some human ecology pioneers including Stephen Boyden and Aromar Revi, the radical economist Juan Martinez-Alier (Barcelona) and the HDGEC director, Jill Jaeger (Bonn). The main tension to emerge at the meeting was between human ecology approaches to environmental questions, and the tools and techniques of environmental history. Some presenters tried to bridge this divide. A range of publications are emerging, including a book, and various journals including a special issue of Land Use Policy on land use change, edited by Helmut Haberl, Simon Batterbury, and Emilio Moran (2001).

Members' News

Gilbert F. White was selected by The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to receive the Academy's most prestigious award, the Public Welfare Medal for 2000. White was chosen for his "his enduring contributions to the study of environmental issues and for his seminal work to reduce human suffering caused by natural disasters." The Public Welfare Medal is presented annually to honor extraordinary use of science for the public good. Previous recipients include Arnold Beckman, C. Everett Koop, and Carl Sagan. "For more than 60 years, Gil White has worked with great energy and skill to improve both domestic and international hazard management in many different areas," said NAS President Bruce Alberts. "To give but two examples, he has led major efforts in this country to significantly improve the effectiveness of federal flood-control efforts, and internationally he has tenaciously pursued efforts to improve the water supplies in Africa and the Middle East." White first presented his flood-management approach in his groundbreaking study, Human Adjustment to Floods (1942). His landmark study on domestic water supply in East Africa, Drawers of Water (1972) led to several policy changes, including public support of rural water schemes in developing countries. (This volume is being rewritten with new data, with John Thompson and David Bradley - see CEN 32). White was born in Chicago on November 26, 1911, and was educated at the University of Chicago, where he received his B.S. degree in 1932, his S.M. in 1933, and his Ph.D. in 1942. He is professor Emeritus at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Gavin Bridge (PhD, Clark University) of the Department of Geography, University of Oklahoma has been promoted to the Samuel Roberts Noble Presidential Professorship.

Harold Brookfield's new book, 'Exploring Agrodiversity' will be published by Columbia University Press in New York in about February 2001. He describes it as a contribution to human or cultural ecology, rather than to any of the parent disciplines of this interdisciplinary field.

Prof. William Doolittle (right) of the Department of Geography, University of Texas at Austin, is the UT-Austin Erich W. Zimmermann Regents Professor of Geography from 1 September 2000.

Robert Kuhlken, Assoc. Prof. at Central Washington University, has published "Agricultural Terracing at Nakauvadra, Vitir Levu: A Late Prehistoric Irrigated Agrosystem in Fiji" in the latest issue of Asian Perspectives, the leading journal for archaeology in the Asia-Pacific region, with Andrew Crosby. He has also written a chapter in, The Prehistory of Food, eds. Chris Gosden and Jon Hather, Routledge Press (1999). His chapter, entitled "Warfare and Intensive Agriculture in Fiji," challenges prevailing notions in anthropology and archaeology regardingr causal linkages between socio-political development and population pressure on agricultural resources.


Christian Brannstrom (PhD student, University of Wisconsin-Madison) has been appointed lecturer, Institute of Latin American Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, UK from fall 1999.

Tim Forsyth (Fellow, IDS and Harvard University) has been appointed lecturer in geography ay the LSE, UK from July 2000.

Sarah Halvorson (PhD student, University of Colorado) has been appointed Assistant Professor of Geography, University of Montana, from fall 2000.

Dan Klooster (visiting faculty, Columbia University) has been appointed Assistant Professor of Geography at Florida State Universty, from fall 2000.

Peter Klepeis (PhD student, Clark University) has been appointed visiting faculty, Colgate University, NY from fall 2000.

Christian Kull (PhD student, Berkeley) has been appointed Assistant Professor of Geography, McGill University, from fall 2000.

Paul Laris (PhD student, Clark University) is visiting faculty, Sonoma State University.

Karl Offen (PhD, University of Texas at Austin) has been appointed Assistant Professor of Geography, University of Oklahoma, from 2000.

Eric Perramond (PhD, University of Texas at Austin) has been appointed Assistant Professor of Geography, Stetson University, FL, from fall 1999.

Chris Sneddon (PhD student, Univ. of Minnesota) has been appointed Assistant Professor of Geography & Environmental Studies, Dartmouth College, from fall 2000.

Tom Perrault (PhD student, University of Colorado, Boulder) has been appointed Assistant Professor of Geography, Syracuse University.

Mike Steinberg (PhD student, LSU) has been appointed Assistant Professor of Geography, University of Southern Maine, from fall 1999.

Book Reviews

All CESG members, and others, are invited to submit reviews of books that would be of interest to our Specialty Group. Publishers are invited to send books to the Editor, and willing reviewers are sought.

Mortimore, Michael. 1998. Roots in the African Dust: Sustaining the Drylands. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 0 521 45173 6 hb £37.50. 0 521 45785 8 pb £13.95

Reviewed by Simon Batterbury, London School of Economics

Michael Mortimore is best known for his extensive studies of farming systems, environmental change and human adaptation to drought in the drylands of northern Nigeria. In many respects he epitomises the cultural ecology tradition, yet he has taken a profoundly different tack to scholars better known in North America like Michael Watts, Rick Schroeder, Nancy Peluso, and Tom Bassett. Mortimore's focus is on local, populist human adaptations to a harsh and complex environment. He developed his research focii when teaching geography at the universities of Ahmadu Bello and Bayero in Nigeria for over twenty-five years, before moving to the UK in the late 1980s where he is now a consultant. He has produced several influential and thought provoking texts; these include Adapting to Drought (1989), Working the Sahel (with W.M. Adams, 1999) and a revisionist account of livelihoods in Machakos, Kenya entitled More People, Less Erosion (with M Tiffen and F Gichuki, 1994). Roots in the African Dust is a synthesis volume, accessible to students, scholars and policymakers, that reviews some of the empirical material contained in these and other works. The book offers a forceful argument that the sub-Saharan drylands (the natural environment, and the people) are still coping under conditions of environmental, monetary and demographic stress. Ten well-presented, liberally illustrated chapters respond to questions posed in the introduction. If we believe expert views, Mortimore says, the Sahelian peoples should have been engulfed by an expanding Sahara many years ago, livestock markets should have collapsed due to overgrazing, farms would have been obliterated by land degradation, fuelwood should have run out, and entire areas depopulated for lack of economic opportunity. Since rural communities farming systems clearly still exist, the author uses several local examples to challenge these erronous crisis discourses. The second chapter addresses the legacy of worries about desertification and its impacts. Mortimore concludes that desertification is usually short-term, and reversible. Chapter three responds to the need to earth the global discourse in the realities of dryland households objectives (p38) since the majority of decisions about farming in Africa (outside the major commercial farms and ranch areas) are taken by smallholders. Defining farmers goals in terms of welfare and the reproductive needs of households, he offers a rich selection of material on labour, crop mixes and land use systems, technical change, trees, water management, and the importance of livestock (walking resources). Three chapters examine risk management. Systems primarily dependent on pastoralism are shown to use opportunistic stocking and herd mobility in an unstable, but resilient environment. Farmers exploit rain and moisture, and manage technological and biological diversity through sequential decision-making.

Holding to a broad definition if the African household as a network of implicit contracts (following Robert Netting), Mortimore shows how risk is negotiated through maintenance of household numbers, a focus on flexible food production, and famine avoidance. He recognises that catastrophic policy errors and economic greed contributed to recent famines, but concludes that Sahelian farming is resilient (p111). This is partly due to non-farm activities, and the vigorous marketing of crops and animals (despite price and demand fluctuations and political uncertainty). Wage labour (involving circulatory migration), asset liquidation, agricultural sales, and exploitation of social networks also help to see people through hardship, and diversification away from agriculture and pastoralism is not the act of desperate people. A clear policy recommendation here is the necessity to keep borders permeable to migrants; in the absence of a rich industrial or commercial sector in most African countries, individuals will still keep their links to their rural homes.

A further three chapters examine the extent of soil degradation, merits of agricultural intensification, and conservation of biotic resources. Mortimore claims that high population densities fuel intensification of agricultural production, if other constraints are absent. His well-known Machakos studies are used to demonstrate how commercial opportunities and population pressures drive resource conservation. The highlight of the book is the last chapter, where he speculates on the driving forces behind the transformation of rural African land use systems, again trying to demonstrate resilience and diversity in locally managed livelihoods. Africa's environmental and human systems change at different rates, but their trajectories are closely linked. Transitions are underway in land uses, and these are economic, demographic and institutional. Policy must, for Mortimore, follow a populist model by nourishing local creativity and adaptability (a version of Paul Richard's indigenous agricultural revolution). All interventions must be technically and culturally appropriate, and the goal of environmental management might be best served by protecting local innovation and investment against crises, for example through improving access to markets and recognising the need for free circulation of people and capital.

Mortimore's project is, therefore, an intriguing and a potentially controversial one. In holding to a notion of strong (Boserupian) human adaptation to environmental and economic stresses, there is an open invitation for the political ecologist/economist to wade in with countervailing evidence of class exploitation, conflict, the systematic prevention of intensification or human development, or economic crisis brought on by commodity markets or corruption. Social and political conflict is downplayed (but not excluded) in the book. Not much is said about struggle and open resistance and why such struggles (often gendered, or to do with access issues) might have been necessary. Although at no point does the author say that rural Nigerians and Kenyans are always capable of solving problems without the state or any external assistance, but his view is that they usually are, and that the state and development agencies may not be suitable agents of positive agricultural transformation. Nonetheless, I have great faith in the author's experience, his findings, and his main recommendations. So much hinges on whether Northern Nigeria and Machakos (in particular) are typical of other regions and situations. Intensified agricultural systems have not always developed elsewhere, because different social and environmental histories apply. What is most gratifying is that Mortimore retains an attachment to rigorous comparative fieldwork that, frankly, few other scholars can demonstrate; a dedication to supporting the African smallholder; and a methodology that places equal weight on the natural environment, and the relationship between environmental change and human response. The book is an example of the real contribution of the committed geographer to African agrarian and development studies, and it is pleasing to have a single volume that offers such a breadth of analysis in a holistic, wide-ranging view of rural livelihoods and landscapes.

Lawrence S. Grossman. The Political Ecology of Bananas: Contract Farming, Peasants, and Agrarian Change in the Eastern Caribbean. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998. xv + 268 pp. Maps, notes, bibliography, index. $49.95 (cloth), ISBN 0-8078-2410-0; $19.95 (paper, ISBN 0-8078-4718-6).

Reviewed by
Stuart McCook, Department of History, The College of New Jersey. First published by H-LatAm (June, 2000), Copyright © 2000, H-Net, all rights reserved.

Historians of Latin America are familiar with the stories of the vertically integrated banana companies of the early twentieth century -- United Fruit Company and Standard Fruit -- that controlled all aspects of the banana industry. They controlled the land on which the bananas were grown, the labor that harvested the bananas, and the transportation and marketing of the bananas. This vertically integrated structure of production, however, represents only one possible way that banana companies could get a reliable supply of fruit. After World War Two, contract farming became common throughout the British Caribbean and Latin America. Banana companies made contracts with peasant farmers (or farmers' associations) to buy all bananas that met specified standards. The banana companies thus obtained a reliable supply of fruit while avoiding many of the costs and risks associated with owning land or hiring labor. One the other side, peasant farmers got access to credit and technology through the buyer, and had guaranteed markets for their bananas. The Political Ecology of Bananas discusses contract farming in the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent from World War Two to the mid-1990s.

Recent historical writing on the banana industry has begun to focus on fine-grained analyses of power relations in the plantations. These analyses show that local actors often exercised considerable agency and autonomy. Grossman, a geographer, explores the tensions between structural forces and local agency in contract farming by using the framework of political ecology. Political ecology "emphasizes that human-environment relations at local, regional, and global scales can be understood only by examining the relationships of patterns of resource use to political-economic forces." (p. 18) While scholars of agrarian change have often equated the growth of contract farming with the industrial process of "deskilling," Grossman argues that industry and agriculture are very different processes because agriculture, unlike industry, is environmentally rooted. Because agriculture is environmentally rooted, contract farmers must respond to a wide range of local environmental conditions. This makes it impossible to deskill the agricultural process in the same way that the industrial process has been deskilled. (p. 14) Environmental forces, therefore, help shape the relationship between peasants, the state, and capital. Grossman also uses the political ecology framework to question structural analyses of globalization, which have tended to minimize the role of state and local forces, and to paint a picture of a passive periphery. By studying agricultural production literally from the ground up, he argues that "we cannot see the patterns associated with contract farming as a reflection of the forces of globalization." (p. 18) Although globalization might seem to be a homogenizing force, at the local level of production, Grossman still finds local agency, variability, contingency, and diversity.

The first three chapters give a broad historical overview of the banana industry in the Windward Islands. Grossman locates the origins of the Windward Islands' banana industry in attempts by the British government to limit U.S. influence in the Caribbean in the twentieth century. After World War Two, Great Britain provided a protective umbrella to the banana industry in the Windward Islands by imposing tariffs and quotas on "dollar fruit," bananas grown by U.S.-owned companies in Latin America. After 1954, Geest, an English company, contracted to buy the entire banana production of the Windward Islands, distributing and marketing it exclusively in Great Britain. The guaranteed and protected British market sustained the banana industry in the Windward Islands (sometimes unsteadily) until the early 1990s. Although the protected markets offered Caribbean banana growers some security, they were still in a weak position. Grossman locates the weakness of the Vincentian producers partly in unequal relations with Geest. The company frequently dictated the terms of the contracts, shifting many of the obligations onto the contract framers. Another major source of weakness in banana production was St. Vincent's environment. Between 1955 and 1997, no fewer than twenty hurricanes or tropical storms, twelve droughts, and four large-scale outbreaks of diseases or pests struck St. Vincent. (p. 63) A new source of weakness emerged in the early 1990s. The quotas and tariff barriers that had propped up the Windward Islands' banana industry began to erode after Great Britain entered the European Common Market. Further pressures from GATT and the World Trade Organization eroded the protected markets even further.

Chapters four through seven give a fine-grained analysis of banana production in St. Vincent. Grossman's fieldwork centered on the community of Restin Hill, in a mountain valley a short drive from St. Vincent's capital city of Kingstown. After a chapter describing daily life and social structure in the village, Grossman devotes a chapter each to the questions of labor, food, and the environment. Grossman argues that the labor process in contract banana farming does not reflect "deskilling" or "disguised wage labor." (p. 152) Changing labor requirements in banana production reflected demands for higher-quality fruit from Geest. Consumers in British supermarkets came to expect fruits that were of uniform size and free of blemishes. As a result, the entire process of banana cultivation, harvesting, and packaging became much more complex. Geest shifted more of these processes to the contract farmers in St. Vincent. The efforts to standardize banana production produced more complex, rather than a simpler, organization of labor. Contract farmers relied on a combination of household labor, wage labor, and "swap labor" (in which labor is provided with the expectation of reciprocation in the near future), to undertake the increasingly complex process of growing, harvesting, and packaging the bananas.

Similarly, Grossman finds local factors were important in explaining the decline of domestic food production. As banana exports grew, domestic food production declined, requiring an increase in food imports. Scholars have commonly argued that the growth of export crops caused the decline of domestic food production. Grossman argues that the relationship between export agriculture and domestic agriculture is much more complex. In St. Vincent, the growth of food imports was not directly linked to the growth in banana exports. Export crops and food crops did not necessarily compete for the same fields: Contract farmers in St. Vincent often intercropped their food crops and their banana crops. Grossman argues that the decline of domestic food production was at least partly a function of domestic demand. The Vincentians he interviewed found that imported food to be cheaper than domestic foods. They also claimed it had a longer shelf life, was easier to prepare, and tasted better than domestically produced good. Local environmental and cultural factors also played a role in limiting state attempts to regulate banana cultivation. As efforts to standardize the final product have grown since World War Two, so have the attempts to standardize production. While the Saint Vincent Banana Growers Association attempted to impose a 'uniform regime of agrochemical use,' Grossman found that pesticide practices in Restin Hill varied considerably depending on the individual 'preferences, needs, and perceptions,' of each farmer. Contract farmers adjusted the application of pesticides to reflect the varying environmental conditions of production on each farm. Grossman concludes with a discussion of the persistence of local forces in the face of globalization. The political ecology framework helps Grossman look at the "interaction among local and global forces, political economy, and the environment." (p. 211) While he recognizes the importance of global forces of homogenization, he argues that the process of globalization ultimately plays out in particular localities. Paradoxically, localities often react to the forces of standardization in non-standard ways.

One of the great strengths of Grossman's study is that it treats agriculture as an environmental process as well as a social process. Of the three factors of production, historians have traditionally focused on labor and capital, while placing land in the background. Grossman convincingly shows that the history of the interactions of labor and capital cannot be fully understood without also paying attention to the land, or more broadly, the environment. His presentation of the environment as source of variability shows how it is possible to discuss human-environment interactions without falling into traditional environmental determinism. In this, his analysis complements other recent histories of the banana industry which treat the environment as an integral part of the analysis, such as John Soluri's dissertation on banana agriculture in Honduras.[1] It also complements environmental histories of tropical commodities such as Warren Dean's classic study on rubber agriculture in Brazil.[2]

Grossman could have deepened the political ecological perspective to look at larger-scale interactions between nature and society in St. Vincent. For example, his analysis implicitly treats natural disasters as external events. Recent work in the anthropology of natural disasters, however, argues that they are never simply natural. In particular, the vulnerability of given societies (and given modes of production) to natural disasters is socially constructed. As he notes when listing the many disasters that have struck the island, "the Windwards environment is hardly ideal for banana production" (p. 61). In spite of this, the British and St. Vincent governments continued to promote banana agriculture. Even though hurricanes that struck St. Vincent were not the result of human agency, the pattern of destruction they left behind reflected human choices about how to organize their environments and their modes of production. Root crops for domestic consumption, for example, were far less vulnerable to hurricanes than the fragile banana trees. Similarly, Grossman could have developed a more detailed environmental explanation of the spread of pesticide use (p. 192). Planters began to use more pesticides at least partly because pest infestations were becoming more commonplace. Pesticide infestations became more commonplace because the intensive nature of banana agriculture created large, homogeneous agricultural ecosystems that were ideal for promoting promoted the spread of diseases and pests. Wherever intensive banana agriculture was practiced, diseases and pests quickly became a major problem within a few years after the initial planting. The outbreaks of diseases and pests in the banana industry, then, also reflected human choices about how to organize the natural world for economic production.

The Political Ecology of Bananas is an eloquent addition to the growing literature on the history of tropical commodities. Grossman's argument moves fluidly from the local to the regional to the global, making the convincing case that scholars should not lose sight of local forces even if they are studying larger issues. It complements recent work by historians of Latin America, who have also begun to study unity and diversity in agricultural regimes. The recent volumes Coffee, Society, and Power in Latin America [3] and The Second Conquest of Latin America [4] are good examples of this new approach. Similarly, Grossman's study starts to explore similarities and differences in banana agriculture within the British Empire, and between the British Caribbean and Latin America. Comparing agricultural regimes between regions, between different political spheres of influence, is a topic that deserves much more systematic attention in the literature. Most important, however, Grossman's thorough fieldwork and sharp analysis reminds scholars that agricultural regimes develop in particular environments and particular places. Because of this, it is important not to lose sight of the local, even when analyzing the global.


[1]. John Soluri. "Landscape and Livelihood: An Agroecological History of Export Banana Growing in the Honduras, 1870-1975." (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, 1998).

[2]. Warren Dean, Brazil and the Struggle for Rubber, An Environmental History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

[3]. William Roseberry, Lowell Gudmundson, and Mario Samper Kutschbach, eds. Coffee, Society, and Power in Latin America. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University
Press, 1995.

[4]. Steven Topik and Allen Wells, The Second Conquest of Latin America: Coffee, Henequen, and Oil during the Export Boom, 1850-1930. Austin: University of Texas Press,1998.

Khare, A., M. Sarin, N.C. Saxena, S. Palit, S. Bathia, F. Vania and M. Satyanarayana. 2000.
Joint Forest Management: Policy, Practice and Prospects. Policy that works for forest and people series no. 3. World Wide Fund for Nature - India, New Delhi and International Institute for Environment and Development, London. xiv + 142 pp. annexes, tables, figures, boxes and index. ISSN: 1028-8228. £12.50.

Reviewed by Firooza Pavri, Department of Geography, Emporia State University, Kansas.

How does one undertake the formidable task of evaluating a forest policy initiative undertaken by the Government of India that affects several million people and currently covers approximately 70,000 sq. km.? Khare have taken on this challenge and done an admirable job at presenting the Indian government's recently adopted (since the early 1990s) Joint Forest Management (JFM) policy framework. Along the way, they tell the age-old story of forests and people in India, provide an overview of landmark forest policy statements, and while assessing the impact of the Indian Forest Department's latest mantra calling for a people-centered forestry, present recommendations and prospects for the future. This volume, one of six country studies commissioned under the Policy that works for forest and people series is a collaborative effort between World Wide Fund for Nature-India and the International Institute for Environment and Development, London. [Book summary here].

The first two chapters of this volume acquaint readers with forest use and management in India, discussing three issues which provide a much needed framework to help contextualize the study. First, the authors outline the administrative setup charged with managing forest use in India, and elaborate on different categories (Reserved, Protected and Unclassed) of forests and varying rights and rules that govern them. Next, they consider forest dependent communities, spending some time spent on adivasi or indigenous groups, and highlight the important role of forest resources in fulfilling daily local requirements of fuelwood, fodder and other non-timber products. Lastly, the authors identify different stakeholders (including local communities, industry, state and central government bureaucracies, conservationists and social activists), and assess their vested interests and roles in shaping forest policy. Having provided readers with this background, the three chapters that follow launch into a detailed account of forest policy in India, discussing past and current practices of management and future prospects for the recently initiated people-centered approach. Khare et. al. trace policy developments from the early colonial era which emphasized commercial forestry, to the period following independence which reaffirmed the new state's development imperatives of industrialization and agricultural expansion (as evidenced in policy statements of the time -- most notably, the National Forest Policy of 1952 and the National Commission on Agriculture's recommendations, 1976). As expected, by the end of the 1970s, the era of expanding industrial forestry impacted not only the forested areas of the country, but also many dependent communities. Here, the authors use various studies to document the large scale clearing of India's existing forest cover to make way for commercially viable timber farms. They further detail the alienation of local populations from any stake in these new commercial ventures, and the steady criminalization of their long established forest resource extraction activities.

So what explains the Indian government's dramatic turn by 1988 from this early period, to a supposedly more people-centered forest management approach? The authors identify several factors including the rise of strong locally based social movements (Chipko being one good example here), the state's recognition of links between rural poverty and land degradation, and increasing international attention on environmental issues. Recent changes including the now famous 1988 policy statement and the practice of Joint Forest Management are detailed in chapters 4 & 5 of the book. It is here that the reader learns about JFM for the first time, and is made familiar with its roots in a 1990 Government of India resolution which calls for a closer working relationship between local people and forest management. Chapter 5 tackles implementation difficulties and institutional constraints, and inquires after the true motivations of JFM and its real beneficiaries versus those touted on paper. In doing so, the chapter sheds light on how access rights to forests are being remolded, it documents new and evolving local forest-use practices, and cautions against lumping local groups into all-encompassing categories with scant regard for class, caste, and gender differences when promoting such policy. One wishes that the authors had spent more time detailing these daily realities, for it is here that the true difficulties of policy implementation come forth with clarity. The volume's final chapter identifies strategies for the future, and calls for open dialogue between different stakeholders in an attempt to make each 'see' the other's perspective. This chapter also provides a long list of recommendations targeted at the national, state and local levels, exhorting policy makers and institutional players alike to democratize the process of forest management foremost, and make serious commitments to engage disparate local voices; hence paying heed to those that have been unheeded.

To the uninitiated this volume provides a quick but comprehensive introduction to forest policy and management in independent India. To the initiated, development practitioners, forest department officials and the like, it presents concrete future recommendations, outlines the very real danger of JFM lapsing into just another business-as-usual scenario, and highlights its potential for positive change if implemented properly. The volume is well organized with numerous highlighted boxes that comment on special cases or summarize important issues/details tackled in the text. Likewise, chapters are liberally peppered with graphs, charts, and photographs that enhance its visual appeal. It is strongly recommended as a case study for intermediate/upper-level courses that consider issues related to the practicalities of implementing natural resource policy. While one might often be frustrated with the vast scope of issues this volume covers in hurried brevity, the bibliography provides numerous other sources to turn to for more detailed analyses. Chapter 5 (JFM in Practice) clearly stands out as one that offers the most in terms of empirical evidence while laying out the vast scope of JFM. However, the authors would have done well to further elaborate on certain key issues. For instance, a far greater emphasis on gender participation, now recognized as vital to the success of JFM, would have been a welcomed addition. Furthermore, while the authors' recommendations are noteworthy, they do, in certain instances, lapse into broad sweeping calls for democratization, which, although laudable, might seem slightly over-ambitious to one who is familiar with the Indian context. These aside however, the volume accomplishes the task it set out to do, providing us with a much needed compendium and guide to recent forest policy in India. In that sense, the title might be just a bit misleading, for this volume is certainly more than just an assessment of JFM.

New Books:
Rain, D.R. 1999. Eaters of the Dry Season: a circular migration system in the West African Sahel. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. See

Townsend, Patricia K. 2000. Environmental Anthropology: From Pigs to Policies. Waveland Press. 106 pages, U.S.$10.50 ISBN 1-57766-126-5. A good, new teaching book for the field, suitable for undergrads. - contact (Tom Curtin) for information.

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