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GN564.B6 R34 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

The Amazon is not what it seems. As Hugh Raffles shows us in this captivating and innovative book, the world's last great wilderness has been transformed again and again by human activity. In Amazonia brings to life an Amazon whose allure and reality lie as much, or more, in what people have made of it as in what nature has wrought. It casts new light on centuries of encounter while describing the dramatic remaking of a sweeping landscape by residents of one small community in the Brazilian Amazon. Combining richly textured ethnographic research and lively historical analysis, Raffles weaves a fascinating story that changes our understanding of this region and challenges us to rethink what we mean by "nature."


Raffles draws from a wide range of material to demonstrate--in contrast to the tendency to downplay human agency in the Amazon--that the region is an outcome of the intimately intertwined histories of humans and nonhumans. He moves between a detailed narrative that analyzes the production of scientific knowledge about Amazonia over the centuries and an absorbing account of the extraordinary transformations to the fluvial landscape carried out over the past forty years by the inhabitants of Igarapé Guariba, four hours downstream from the nearest city.


Engagingly written, theoretically inventive, and vividly illustrated, the book introduces a diverse range of characters--from sixteenth-century explorers and their native rivals to nineteenth-century naturalists and contemporary ecologists, logging company executives, and river-traders. A natural history of a different kind, In Amazonia shows how humans, animals, rivers, and forests all participate in the making of a region that remains today at the center of debates in environmental politics.


Author Notes

Hugh Raffles is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.


Reviews 1

Choice Review

In writing his "natural-cultural" history of the community of Igarape Guariba, Raffles (anthropology, Univ. of California, Santa Cruz) has given readers a new classic of the Amazon. Far more impressive than even Charles Wagley's Amazon Town (1953), Raffle's oral history of this recently created (1950s) riverine community dashes the notion of the romanticized "pristine past" and patiently documents how Amazonians have "created" their landscapes for generations. In a sweeping panorama of the history of the Amazon ranging from Orellana to Walter Rale[i]gh to Bates and Wallace, Raffles impresses with his enormous scholarship and lyrical language. He shows unequivocally that the landscapes that enchanted European explorers and naturalists were frequently man-made, as is the case of present-day Igarape Guariba. Moving with ease from subjects ranging from modern historical theories (such as hybridization) to the mundane (i.e., the natural history of mahogany), the range of Raffles's knowledge is exquisitely broad. What we thought we knew of the Amazon and the reasons for its devastation will forever be changed by this rapturous soliloquy on the region. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Collections serving most general and academic populations. R. M. Delson American Museum of Natural History


Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Chapter 1 In Amazoniap. 1
Chapter 2 Dissolution of the Elementsp. 12
The Floodplain, 11,000 BP-2002
Chapter 3 In the Flow of Becomingp. 44
Igarape Guariba, 1941-1996
Chapter 4 A Countrey Never Sacktp. 75
Guiana, 1587-1631
Chapter 5 The Uses of Butterfliesp. 114
Bates of the Amazons, 1848-1859
Chapter 6 The Dreamlife of Ecologyp. 150
South Pará, 1999
Chapter 7 Fluvial Intimaciesp. 180
Amapá, 1995-1996
Notesp. 207
Bibliographyp. 265
Creditsp. 297
Index|299