Environmental History

An ongoing review of scholarship on the environment. Organized chronologically by publication date.


Book Reviews

Investigación Subacuática en las Lagunas de Yahuarcocha: Echeverría-Almeida and Athens

Echeverría-Almeida, José, and John Stephen Athens. “Investigación Subacuática En Las Lagunas de Yahuarcocha, San Pablo, Mojanda, Provincia de Imbabura, Ecuador.” Revista de Arqueología Americana, no. 34 (2016). Echeverría-Almeida and Athens underwater survey of the Laguna Yahuarcocha (Lake of Blood) builds on earlier subaquatic research performed in the lake in the early 2000s. Besides concluding that… Read More Investigación Subacuática en las Lagunas de Yahuarcocha: Echeverría-Almeida and Athens

Indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorians Facing the Twenty-First Century: Marc Becker

A collection of essays on the construction and emergence of ethnic identities in the Ecuadorian Andes, edited by Marc Becker. The authors of the volume examine Afro-Ecuadorians and indigenous communities through the lens of politics, culture, religion, gender, and the environment to better understand the array of social problems facing the country. French sociologist Manuela… Read More Indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorians Facing the Twenty-First Century: Marc Becker

The Deepest Wounds: Thomas Rogers

Thomas Rogers’ The Deepest Wounds argues that Pernambuco sugar planters “saw no distinction between land and labor” (8). Enslaved and free workers on cane plantations were demoted in elites’ eyes to a level equal with the animals and the earth – merely another natural resource to be commanded by the planters (72-73). This monograph shows… Read More The Deepest Wounds: Thomas Rogers

Provisioning of the Inka Army in Wartime: Obsidian Procurement in Pambamarca, Ecuador: Ogburn et al.

Ogburn, Dennis, Samuel Connell, and Chad Gifford. “Provisioning of the Inka Army in Wartime: Obsidian Procurement in Pambamarca, Ecuador.” Journal of Archaeological Science 36, no. 3 (March 1, 2009): 740–51. Dennis Ogburn, Samuel Connell, and Chad Gifford look at sources of obsidian found at the Pambamarca fortress complex to the north and east of Quito,… Read More Provisioning of the Inka Army in Wartime: Obsidian Procurement in Pambamarca, Ecuador: Ogburn et al.

With Broadax and Firebrand: Warren Dean

Warren Dean’s With Broadax and Firebrand is a history of the destructive impact of human activity on the Atlantic forests of Brazil. Chronicling social attitudes towards nature and the impact of those attitudes on the forests from pre-Columbian times to the present, he highlights the ultimately unproductive exploitation of Brazilian natural resources, which left the… Read More With Broadax and Firebrand: Warren Dean

Changing Fortunes: Karl Zimmerer

Karl Zimmerer’s Changing Fortunes: Biodiversity and Peasant Livelihood in the Peruvian Andes looks at agriculture systems and species biodiversity in the Peruvian Andes in the late twentieth century. Focusing on an indigenous community in Paucartambo region, near Cuzco, the author explores the divergent fortunes of different communities in this area as they adapted to changing… Read More Changing Fortunes: Karl Zimmerer

A Plague of Sheep: Elinor Melville

Elinor Melville’s A Plague of Sheep (1994) examines the effects of sheep ranching on the environment in the Valle de Mezquital in colonial Mexico. Melville traces the processes that turned a wooded, well-irrigated landscape into desolate pasture lands. She weaves disease, territorial control, ungulate irruptions, and the collapse and consolidation of regional land tenancy into… Read More A Plague of Sheep: Elinor Melville

Native Society and Disease in Colonial Ecuador: Suzanne Alchon

Suzanne Alchon: Native Society and Disease in Colonial Ecuador (1991) explores the relationship between epidemic diseases and indigenous populations in the north-central highlands of Ecuador in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Alchon argues that appreciating the role of epidemics in everything from food security to politics is critical to understanding changes in regional history in… Read More Native Society and Disease in Colonial Ecuador: Suzanne Alchon

La Resistencia Andina: Galo Ramón

Citation Ramón Valarezo, Galo. La resistencia andina: Cayambe 1.500-1.800. Cuaderno de Discusión Popular. Quito: Centro Andino de Accion Popular, 1987.

Del Valle al Monte: Christoph Stadel

Citation Stadel, Christoph. “Del Valle al Monte: Altitudinal Patterns of Agricultural Activities in the Patate-Pelileo Area of Ecuador.” Mountain Research and Development 6, no. 1 (1986): 53–62.

The Andean Past: Magnus Mörner

Magnus Mörner’s The Andean Past: Land, Societies, and Conflicts (1985) is a wide-ranging survey of Andean history since conquest, focusing on classic political, social, and economic themes. In his discussion of Andean rural history, Mörner says historians should view the development of haciendas in terms of their wider commercial networks and argues that international export… Read More The Andean Past: Magnus Mörner

Huarochirí: Karen Spalding

Karen Spalding’s history of colonial Peru, Huarochirí, begins with the origins of Andean society, following social changes from pre-Inca days until the height of colonial rule. Written in the mid-1980s amidst a brutal economic crisis that inordinately impacted indigenous communities in areas like Huarochirí, this monograph seems an attempt to revalorize Andean society at a… Read More Huarochirí: Karen Spalding

Changes in the Land: William Cronon

William Cronon’s Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England (1983) looks at environmental change and human landscaping in pre-Columbian and colonial New England. Cronon argues that what we think of as “nature” on the so-called American frontier was not an untouched and pristine wilderness, but a heavily landscaped environment where… Read More Changes in the Land: William Cronon

Farm and Factory: Nicholas Cushner

Nicholas Cushner’s Farm and Factory (1982) examines Jesuit hacienda holdings in the Los Chillos valley on the southeastern slopes of Quito between 1600 and the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767. Cushner uses the Black Robes to look at the rise of agrarian capitalism in colonial Quito as seen through changing systems land tenancy in… Read More Farm and Factory: Nicholas Cushner

Peru’s Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest: Steve Stern

Stern, Steve J. Peru’s Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest: Huamanga to 1640. Madison, Wis: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982. Steve Stern’s Peru’s Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest: Huamanga to 1640 centers on colonial Huamanga, a strategic military and economic region along the route between Lima and Potosí. It was… Read More Peru’s Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest: Steve Stern

Economic Organization of the Inka State: John Murra

John Murra developed his now-famous theory of the Andean “vertical archipelago” in Formaciones Económicas y Políticas del Mundo Andino (1975, trans. Economic Organization of the Inka State, 1980), which grew out of his research in the Peruvian highlands between 1958 and 1973. Murra argued that pre-Columbian societies in the Andes sought to control a range of ecological zones… Read More Economic Organization of the Inka State: John Murra