Send Suggestions to

Cono Sur

General Editor:
Lise Sedrez
Stanford University

Advisory Board:
John Wirth
Stanford University
(in memorian)

José Drummond


Environmental History of Latin America

Frederic Vallvé

Flames in the forest. 1991. 52 min. Princeton, NJ: Films for the Humanities & Sciences, Inc..
Since the 1950's, the Amazon Indians of eastern Ecuador have bitterly resisted the invasion of international oil companies which, with the encouragement of the Ecuadorian government, seek to use the resource-rich region for intensive oil production. (AA)

Amazonia, vozes da floresta. 1991. Producers Monti Aguirre, and Glenn Switkes. 70 min. San Francisco: Amazonia, VHS.
Reviews the ecology of the rainforest, the indigenous indians attitudes towards the forest and their increasing concern for its protection as the fragile ecosystem is threatened with destruction by outside commercial developers. (AA)

Albert, Bruce. 1992. Indian lands, environmental policy and military geopolitics in the development of the Brazilian Amazon: The case of the Yanomami. Development and Change, no. 23: 35-70.

Balée, William. 1994. Footprints of the Forest: Ka'apor Ethnobotany: the Historical Ecology of Plant Utilization by an Amazonian People. New York: Columbia University Press.

Balée, William. 1992. Indigenous History and Amazonian Biodiversity. In Changing Tropical Forests: Historical Perspectives on Today's Challenges in Central & South America. Eds. Harold K. Steen, and Richard P. Tucker, 185-97. Durham, NC: Forest History Society.

Barbosa, Luiz C. 1993. The "Greening" of the Ecopolitics of the World-System: Amazonia and Changes in the Ecopolitics of Brazil. Journal of Political and Military Sociology 21, no. 1: 107-34.

Barbosa, Luiz C . 1993. The World System and the Destruction of the Brazilian Amazon Rain Forest. Review 16, no. 2: 215-40.

Barclay, Federica, Martha Rodrigues, F. Santos, and M. Valcarcel. 1991. Amazonia 1940 - 1990: El Extravio de Una Ilusion. Lima, Peru: Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru/CISEPA.
Tables, maps, bibliography. Analysis of the socio-economic and socio-ecologic issues that have taken place in the Peruvian Amazon during 1950. Text in Spanish. (Note by FHS)

Barham, Bradford L., and Oliver T. Coomes. 1996. The Amazon Rubber Boom and Distorted Development. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Browder, John O., and Brian J. Godfrey. 1997. Rainforest cities: urbanization, development, and globalization of the Brazilian Amazon. New York: Columbia University Press.
Reviewed by Stuart McCook, The College of New Jersey.

Brownrigg, Leslie Ann. 1986. Al Futuro desde la Experiencia: Los Pueblos Indigenas y el Manejo del Medio Ambiente. Quito, Ecuado: ABYA-YALA.
Ilustrations, bibliography. A perspective about the Latin American indigenous people's technology and experience on environmental management. Twentieth century. Text in Spanish. (Note by FHS).

Carneiro, Robert J. 1995. The history of ecological interpretations of Amazonia: does Roosevelt have it right? Indigenous Peoples and the Future of Amazonia: An Ecological Anthropology of an Endangered World. L. E. SponselTucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press.

Cleary, David. 1999. "Amazonian Ecosystems Since 1500: Conference Course." Web page, [accessed 24 July 1999]. Available at

Cleary, David. 2001. Towards and environmental history of the Amazon: From prehistory to the nineteenth century. Latin American Research Review 36, no. 2: 65-96.

Conklin, B., and L. Graham . 1995. The shifting middle ground: Amazon Indians and eco-politics. American Anthropologist , no. 97: 695-710.

Coomes, Oliver T. 1995. A Century of Rain Forest Use in Western Amazonia: Lessons for Extraction-Based Conservation of Tropical Forest Resources. Forest & Conservation History 39: 108-20.

Cowell, Adrian, and Michael Kirk. 1990. The Killing of Chico Mendes. Producer Roger James. Director Adrian Cowell. 55 min. Oley, PA: Bullfrog Films.
About Chico Mendes, leader of the rubber-tappers, who sacrificed his life in his fight to preserve the forest. (AA)

Cowell, Adrian, Michael Kirk, Jim Astrausky, and Will Lyman. 1990. In the ashes of the forest. Producer Roger James. Oley, PA: Bullfrog Films.
A colonist searches for his son kidnapped by Indians. A pioneer farm family is on the brink of starvation when their crop fails. (AA)

Davis, Wade . 1993. Forest of the Milk River, part 1: Some Thoughts and Details on Biodiversity. Wild Earth : 32-37.

Dean, Warren. 1987. Brazil and the Struggle for Rubber: a study in environmental history. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dean studies the domestication of the Hevea brasiliensis, the most famous tree of the mature, lowland stretches of Amazonian tropical rain forests.  It is one of the last floral species submitted to extensive and commercially successful manipulation by mankind. Unlike other more important plants for humankind, this latter day process left numerous documented traces, in Brazil and in many other places.  Dean tracks down many of these sources and combines the natural history of the tree with the economic and social history of its domestication.  If we could have the same documented natural and social history of, say, wheat, rice and corn, we would know much more about basic interactions between humans and their natural environments (JD).

Denevan, William M. 1996. A Bluff Model of Riverine Settlement in Prehistoric Amazonia. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 86, no. 4: 654-81.

Domínguez, Camilo, and Augusto Gómez. 1990. La economía extractiva en la Amazonia colombiana, 1850-1930. Colombia, Araracuara: TROPENBOS. Corporación Colombiana para la Amazonia.

Ewan, Joseph . 1989. Five American naturalists on the Andes and Amazon: A study in personality. Archives of Natural History 18: 14.

Ewan, Joseph. 1992. Through the jungle of Amazon Travel narratives of naturalists. Archives of Natural History 19: 185-207.

Fearnside, Philip M. 1986. Human Carrying Capacity of the Brazilian Rainforest. New York: Columbia University Press.
Analyzes the recent history of Amazonian colonization attempts and uses computer models to estimate the maximum population that the region could sustain without major environmental damage. (Note by FHS).

Foresta, Ronald A. 1991. Amazon Conservation in the Age of Development: The Limits of Providence. Gainesville, Florida: University of Florida Press.
Political, social, and scientific assessment of conservation programs in the Brazilian rainforests, since the 1970s. (Note by FHS).

Hall, Anthony L. 1989. Developing Amazonia: Deforestation and Social Conflict in Brazil's Carajas Programme. New York: Manchester University Press.
Study about the environmental and social impacts of industrial development in Carajas, Brazil. Twentieth century. (Note by FHS).

Hall, Anthony L. 1997. Sustaining Amazonia: Grassroots Action for Productive Conservation. New York: Manchester University Press.

Hecht, Susan, and A. Cockburn. 1990. The fate of the forest: Developers, destroyers and defenders of the Amazon. New York: Harper Perennial.

Hurrell, Andrew. 1992. Brazil and the international politics of Amazon deforestation. In The international politics of the environment: actors, interests, and institutions. Eds. Andrew Hurrell, and B. Kingbury, 396-420. Oxford, England: Claredon Press.

Jobim, Anisio. 1934. Panoramas Amazonicos: Codajas. Revista Do Instituto Geographico e Historico Do Amazonas 4, no. 1 & 2: 3-28.
Natural history of the municipality of Codajas, Brazil, from the 1800s to the early 1900s. Text in Portuguese. (Note by FHS).

Kane, Joe. 1989. Running the Amazon. New York: Knopf.

Keck, Margaret E. 1995. Social equity and environmental politics in Brazil: lessons from the rubber tappers of Acre. Comparative Politics 27, no. 4: 409-24.

Kolk, Ans. 1996. Forest in international environmental politics: International organizations, NGOs and the Brazilian Amazon. Utrecht, Netherlands: International Books.

Kottak, Conrad Phillip. 1992. Assault on Paradise: social change in a Brazilian village. 2 ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Larson, Brooke. 1988. Colonialism and Agrarian Transformation in Bolivia: Cochabamba, 1550-1900. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Land use and class relations in a warm Andean valley that supported irrigated grain agriculture under the Incas and the Spanish and served as a beachhead for missionary exploration of the western Amazonian rain forests. (Note by FHS).

Leal, Claudia. 1995. A la buena de Dios colonización en La Macarena, ríos Duda y Guayabero. 1. ed ed. Santafé de Bogotá: FESCOL, CEREC.

Léna, Philippe, and Adélia Engrácia Oliveira, Eds. 1991. Amazônia: a fronteira agrícola 20 anos depois. Coleção Eduardo Galvão. Belém, Brazil/France: Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi/ORSTOM.

Mahar, Dennis J. 1989. Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon Region: Magnitude, Rate, and Causes. In Environmental Management and Economic Development. Eds. Gunter. Schramm, and Jeremy J. WarfordBaltimore, MD: World Bank /Johns Hopkins University Press.

Maligo, Pedro. 1998. Land of metaphorical desires: the representation of Amazonia in Brazilian literature. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.

Mann, Charles C. 2000. Earthmovers of the Amazon. Science 287 : 786-89.

Meggers, Betty J. 1971. Amazonia: Man and Nature in a Counterfeit Paradise. Chicago: Adeline.

Meggers, Betty J. 1985. Aboriginal adaptation in Amazonia. In Key Environments: Amazonia. Eds. G. T. & Lovejoy T. E. Prance. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Meggers, Betty J. 1995. Judging the future by the past: the impact of environmental instability on prehistoric Amazonian populations. In Indigenous Peoples and the Future of Amazonia: An Ecological Anthropology of an Endangered World. L. E. Sponsel. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press.

Monbeig, Pierre, Editor. 1977. Amazonies nouvelles: organisation de l'espace rural. Paris: Institute des Hautes Études de l'Amérique Latine.

Ocampo, José Antonio. 1984. Colombia y la economía mundial, 1830-1910.  1a ed ed.456 p : ill ; 21 cm. Economía y Demografía. México: Siglo Veintiuno Editores.

Onis, Juan de. 1992. The green cathedral: sustainable development of Amazonia. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.
Author, a former correspondent for The New York Times, discusses often conflicting perspectives of First World environmentalists and Amazon residents on ways to approach the goal of sustainable development. Drawing on visits to the Brazilian Amazon over a 20-year period, he calls for establishment of a macro-ecological framework through which micro-ecological actions become the elements of sustainable economic growth and a reasonable ecological balance. (HLAS).

Pádua, José Augusto. 1997. Biosphere, History and Conjuncture in the Analysis of the Amazon Problem. Michael R. Redclift, and Graham WoodgateCheltenham, UK/Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.

Parsons, James Jerome. 1968. Antioqueno colonization in Western Colombia.  [2nd] rev. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Parsons, James Jerome 1967. Antioquia's corridor to the sea: an historical geography of the settlement of Urabá.  Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Paula, R. C. de . 1972. A Rodovia Belém-Brasilia e os fazedores de desertos. A Amazônia Brasileira Em Foco 6: 78-95.

Philip, Kavita. 1995. Imperial Science Rescues a Tree: Global Botanic Networks, Local Knowledge and the Transcontinental Transplantation of Cinchona. Environment and History 1: 173-200.
This paper follows the official records of the quinine story, in particular the memoirs of Sir Clements Markham, an employee of the East India Company and an amateur geographer who volunteered to undertake the exploration of the Peruvian forests in search of the cinchona tree. (Note by FHS).

Place, Susan E., Editor. 1993. Tropical rainforests: Latin American nature and society in transition. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources.
Reviewed by Stuart McCook, The College of New Jersey.

Raymond, J. Scott. 1988. Contributions from the Selva: A View from the Tropical Forest. Richard W. Keatinge. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Cultural developments in the pre-history of the Amazon. (Note by FHS).

Richards, M. 1993. The Potential of Non-Timber Forest Products in Sustainable Natural Forest Management in Amazonia. Commonwealth Forestry Review 72, no. 1: 21-27.
Examines the history of exploitation of non-timber forest products of the Amazon, and discusses sustainable uses. Twentieth century. (Note by FHS).

Roosevelt, Anna . 1994. Amazonian anthropology: Strategy for a New Synthesis, In Amazonian Indians from Prehistory to the Present: Anthropological Perspectives. Ed Anna Roosevelt. Tuscon: University of Arizona Press.

Roosevelt, Anna. 1989. Resource management in Amazonia before the conquest: beyond ethnographic projection. Advances in Economic Botany 7: 30-62.

Sabin, Paul. 1998. Searching for Middle Ground: Native Communities and Oil Extraction in the Northern and Central Ecuadorian Amazon, 1967-1993. Environmental History 3: 144-68.
Discusses native Huaorani peoples' efforts to convince the Ecuadorian government to balance native land rights and environmental concerns with the economic benefits derived from multinational oil exploration in Ecuador during this period. (Note by FHS).

Santiago, Myrna. 1998. Rejecting Progress in Paradise: Huastecs, the Environment, and the Oil Industry in Veracruz, Mexico, 1900-1935. Environmental History 3: 169-88.
Asserts that although the petroleum industry offered significant economic opportunities, native Huastec peoples ultimately chose to maintain their traditional agricultural society despite the fact that oil developers severely deforested and degraded the environment in Veracruz, Mexico. (Note by FHS).

Schwartzman, Stephan. 1991. Deforestation and Popular Resistance in Acre: From Local Social Movement to Global Network. Centennial Review 35, no. 2: 397-422.

Scurlock, Dan. 1998. New Mexico Historical Review 73: 7-24.
Natural history of Spanish and Angora goats, their introduction to the Southwest in the late sixteenth century, and their impact on the environment of New Mexico, Arizona, Sonora, and Chihuahua through the twentieth century. (Note by FHS).

Sedrez, Lise Fernanda . 1999. "Last Projects." Web page, [accessed 24 July 1999]. Available at

Sedrez, Lise Fernanda. 1998. "A Meeting of Minds: Coalitions, Representations and American Non-governmental Organizations in the Brazilian Amazon." New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Master's thesis (Environmental Policy Studies).

Slater, Candace. 1993. Amazonia as edenic narrative. In The uncommon ground: Toward reinventing Nature. Editor William Cronon, 114-31. New York: W.W. Norton.

Slater, Candace. 1994. Dance of the Dolphin: Transformation and Disenchantment in the Amazonian Imagination. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Smith, Miranda. 1989. Voice of the Amazon. Better World Society. 57 min. New York: Cinema Guild.
Through interviews and documentary footage, examines the grass-roots environmental movement in Brazil. Focuses on Chico Mendes, a rubbertapper and environmentalist who was assassinated in 1988 for his role in trying to protect the rainforest from over-exploitation. (AA).

Stanfield, Michael Edward. 1998. Red Rubber, Bleeding Trees: Violence, Slavery, and Empire in Northwest Amazonia. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

Sweet, D. G. 1974. "A Rich Realm of Nature Destroyed: the Middle Amazon Valley, 1640-1750." University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Weinstein, Barbara. 1983. The Amazon Rubber Boom, 1850-1920. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Wood, Charles H., and Marianne Schmink. 1993. The Military and the Environment in the Brazilian Amazon. Journal of Political and Military Sociology 21, no. 1: 81-105.
The Brazilian military, in direct control of the country's federal government from 1964 to 1985, played a prominent role in setting in motion events that caused the deforestation of vast areas of the Amazon. The events show how the patterns of land settlement, deforestation, and resource use on the frontier were the outcome of complex interactions, including attempts by the military regime to maintain grassroots political support. (AA).

Zebich-Knoz, Michele. 1994. Tropical Rainforest Policy in Brasil and Costa Rica: Has a Lesson Been Learned? Journal of the Third World Spectrum 1, no. 2: 91-104.
Analyzes the problems of tropical deforestation by a comparative analysis of postwar rainforest policies in Brazil and Costa Rica and evaluates the impact of environmental destruction for short-term economic gain, utilizing Richard Rose's methodology for assessing long-range consequences from his Lesson-Drawing in Public Policy (1993). (Note by FHS).

Zimmerer, Karl S. 1996. Changing fortunes biodiversity and peasant livelihood in the Peruvian Andes. Berkeley: University of California Press.