, Volume 32, Issue 6, pp 653-683

Ecological Praxis and Blackwater Ecosystems: A Case Study From the Brazilian Amazon

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Abstract

This article explores how anthropogenic modifications of soil condition human adaptive processes on the Amazonian uplands. The occurrence of black earth (a nutrient-rich anthrosol) in nutrient-poor blackwater environments and its cultivation by contemporary residents provide a unique opportunity for understanding the ecological praxis of Amazonian groups. Two years of ethnographic, ethnoscientific, and agronomic research among caboclo residents of the Lower Rio Negro and Rio Urubú confirm that unique cognitive and behavioral orientations characterize black earth and adjacent environments. When compared with cognitive and behavioral orientations to these two environments in distant blackwater regions, data suggest that political-economic, technological, cultural, and ecological factors have had~a strong influence on the trajectory of human-environmental interactions. Data in large part illustrate the utility of historical ecological models, yet point to an interactive role of diverse histories in shaping the range of human responses.