Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 17–30 | Cite as

Redemptive communities: Indigenous knowledge, colonist farming systems, and conservation of tropical forests

  • John O. Browder
Articles

Abstract

This essay critically examines the emerging view among some ethnologists that replicable models of sustainable management of tropical forests may be found within the knowledge systems of contemporary indigenous peoples. As idealized epistemological types, several characteristics distinguishing “indigenous” from “modern” knowledge systems are described. Two culturally distinctive land use systems in Latin America are compared, one developed by an indigenous group, the Huastec Maya, and the other characteristic of colonist farms in Rondonia, Brazil. While each of these systems reflects a different cultural-historical tradition, I argue that the process of knowledge formation and cultural adaptation is coevolutionary and continuous in both cases. The very concept of “indigenous” as a discrete analytic category is questioned; indigenicity alone cannot explain local adaptation of farming systems. Rather than dichotomize indigenous and colonist knowledge as inherently different categories, differences in land use patterns between such social groups may be more accurately viewed as reflecting different points on a single epistemological continuum.

Keywords

Veterinary Medicine Tropical Forest Indigenous People Farming System Local Adaptation 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Alcorn, Janis B. 1984.Huastec Mayan Ethnobotany. Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  2. —— 1989. “An economic analysis of huastec mayan forest management.” In John O. Browder (ed.),Fragile Lands of Latin American: Strategies for Sustainable Development. Boulder CO: Westview Press, pp. 182–208.Google Scholar
  3. Amanor, Kojo Sebastian. 1991. “Managing the fallow: weeding technology and environmental knowledge in the Krobo District of Ghana.”Agriculture and Human Values 8 (1–2): 5–13.Google Scholar
  4. Anderson, Anthony B. (ed.). 1990.Alternatives to Deforestation: Steps Toward Sustainable Use of the Amazon Rain Forest. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Balée, William. 1989. “The culture of Amazonian forests.” In D. A. Posey and W. Balée (eds.),Resource Management in Amazonia: Indigenous and Folk Strategies. Advances in Economic Botany, vol. 7: 1–22.Google Scholar
  6. Barbour, Ian G. 1974.Myths, Models and Paradigms: The Nature of Scientific and Religious Language. London: SCM Press, Ltd.Google Scholar
  7. Barnes, Barry and David Bloor. 1982. “Relativism, Rationalism and the Sociology of Knowledge.” InMartin Hollis andSteven Lukes (eds.)Rationality and Relativism. Cambridge: M. I. T. Press.Google Scholar
  8. Berman, Morris. 1984.The Reenchantment of the World. New York: Bantam.Google Scholar
  9. Bower, Bruce. 1989. “A world that never existed.”Science News 135(17, April 29): 264–266.Google Scholar
  10. Browder, John O. (ed.) 1989.Fragile Lands of Latin America: Strategies for Sustainable Development. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  11. Burger, Julian. 1990.First Peoples. London: Robertson McCarta.Google Scholar
  12. Chambers, Robert. 1983.Rural Development: Putting the Last First. Harlow: Longman.Google Scholar
  13. COICA (Coordinadora de las Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica). n. d. Our agenda for the bilateral and multilateral funders of amazon development. Unpublished document. New Orleans: COICA.Google Scholar
  14. Counsell, Simon and Tim Rice (eds.). 1992.The Rainforest Harvest: Sustainable Strategies for Saving the Tropical Forests. London: Friends of the Earth Trust, Ltd.Google Scholar
  15. Diamond, Jared. 1992.The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal. New York: Harper Perennial.Google Scholar
  16. Ereira, Alan. 1990.The Heart of the World. London: Jonathan Cape, Ltd.Google Scholar
  17. Fearnside, Philip M. 1987. “The causes of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.” In R. F. Dickenson (ed.)The Geophysiology of Amazonia: Vegetation and Climate Interactions. New York: John Wiley & Sons, pp. 37–53.Google Scholar
  18. Fee, Elizabeth. 1986. “Critiques of modern science: the relationship of feminism to other radical epistemologies.” In R. Blier (ed.),Feminist Approaches to Science. New York: Pergamon Press, pp. 43–56.Google Scholar
  19. Field, Les. 1991. “Tools for indigenous agricultural development in Latin America: an anthropologist's perspective.”Agriculture and Human Values 8 (1–2): 85–92.Google Scholar
  20. Frechione, John. 1990. “Supervillage formation in the amazonian terra firme: the case of Asenona.”Ethnology 29 (2): 117–133.Google Scholar
  21. Gliessman, Stephen R. n. d. Local resource use systems in the tropics: taking pressure off the forests. Unpublished manuscript. Santa Cruz, CA: Agroecology Program, University of California.Google Scholar
  22. Goldman, Abe. 1991. “Tradition and change in postharvest pest management in Kenya”Agriculture and Human Values 8 (1–2): 99–113.Google Scholar
  23. Gomez-Pompa, Arturo, Jose Salvador Flores and Victoria Sosa. 1987. “The ‘pet kot’: a man-made tropical forest of the maya.”Interciencia 12 (1, Jan–Feb): 10–15.Google Scholar
  24. Goodland, Robert (ed.). 1990.Race to Save the Tropics: Ecology and Economics for a Sustainable Future. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
  25. Gradwohl, Judith and Russell Greenberg. 1988.Saving the Tropical Forests. London: Earthscan Press.Google Scholar
  26. Gross, Daniel R. 1985. “Amazonia and the progress of ethnology.”Latin American Research Review 20 (2): 200–222.Google Scholar
  27. Hardison, Jr. O. B. 1989.Disappearing Through the Skylight: Culture and Technology in the Twentieth Century. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  28. Harman, Willis. 1988.Global Mind Change. New York: Warner Books.Google Scholar
  29. Harp, William. 1991. Ecology and cosmology, rain forest exploitation among the Emberá-Chocó. Unpublished paper presented at the Humid Tropical Lowlands Conference: Development Strategies and Natural Resource Management, June 17–21, Panama City, Panama.Google Scholar
  30. Hiraoka, Mario. 1991. Indigenous farming systems and development of tropical lowlands of Latin America: an amazonian example. Unpublished paper presented at the Humid Tropical Lowlands Conference: Development Strategies and Natural Resource Management, June 17–21, Panama City, Panama.Google Scholar
  31. Horton, Robin. 1970. “African traditional thought and Western science.” InRationality (Bryan R. Wilson, ed.). Evanston, IL: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  32. ——. 1982. “Tradition and modernity revisited”. InRationality and Relativism (Martin Hollis and Steven Lukes, eds.). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, pp. 201–260.Google Scholar
  33. Howells, William. 1963.Back of History: the Story of Our Own Origins. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc.Google Scholar
  34. Indigenous Peoples and the Land. 1981. Report of an International Conference, cited in Redford (1990).Google Scholar
  35. International Society of Ethnobiology. 1992. Culture and nature: direction for conservation of diversity. Promotional materials for the III International Congress of Ethnobiology, November 10–14, 1992, Mexico City.Google Scholar
  36. Irvine, Dominique. 1987. Regional resource management among the runa indians: the threats of and alternatives to deforestation in the ecuardorian amazon. Unpublished manuscript. Balboa, Panama: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.Google Scholar
  37. Levin, William C. 1991.Sociological Ideas: Concepts and Applications, Third Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  38. Lewis, Peirce F. 1979. “Axioms for reading the landscape.” In D. W. Meinig (ed.),The Interpretation of Ordinary Landscapes. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Maor, Eli. 1991.To Infinity and Beyond: A Cultural History of the Infinite. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Maybury-Lewis, David. 1992.Millennium: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World. New York: Viking Penguin Press.Google Scholar
  41. Norgaard, Richard B. 1981. “Sociosystem and ecosystem coevolution in the Amazon.”Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 8: 238–254.Google Scholar
  42. --. 1984. “Traditional agricultural knowledge: past performance, future prospects and institutional implications.”American Journal of Agricultural Economics (December): 874–878.Google Scholar
  43. —— 1988. “Sustainable development: a coevolutionary view.”Futures 20 (6): 606–620.Google Scholar
  44. Orr, David W. 1992. “What is education for?”Earth Ethics 3 (3): 1–5.Google Scholar
  45. Palmer, Thomas. 1992. “The case for human beings,”The Atlantic Monthly 269 (1, Jan.).Google Scholar
  46. Parker, Eugene, Darell Posey, John Frechione, and Luiz Francelino da Silva. 1983. “Resource exploitation in amazonia: ethnoecological examples from four populations.”Annals of Carnegie Museum 52 (16, September): 163–203.Google Scholar
  47. Posey, Darrell A. 1985. “Native and indigenous guidelines for new amazonian development strategies: understanding biological diversity through ethnoecology.” In John I. Hemming (ed.)Change in the Amazon Basin: Man's Impact on Forests and Rivers, vol. 1. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Posey, Darrell A., John Frechione, John Eddins, and Luiz Francelino da Silva. 1984. “Ethnoecology as applied anthropology in amazonia development.”Human Organization 43 (2): 95–107.Google Scholar
  49. Posey, D. A. and W. Balée (eds.). 1989. “Resource Management in Amazonia: Indigenous and Folk Strategies.”Advances in Economic Botany, vol. 7. Bronx: New York Botanical Garden.Google Scholar
  50. Posey, Darrell A. and William Leslie Overal. 1990.Ethnobiology: Implications and Applications, vols. 1 and 2. Belém, Brazil: Museu Paraense Emilio Geoldi.Google Scholar
  51. Radnitzky, Gerard and W. W. Bartley III (eds.). 1987.Evolutionary Epistemology, Theory of Rationality, and the Sociology of Knowledge. La Salle, IL: Open Court Press.Google Scholar
  52. Redford, Kent H. 1990. “The ecologically-noble savage,”Orion Nature Quarterly (summer).Google Scholar
  53. Redford, Kent H. and Christine Padoch (eds.). 1989.Conservation of Neotropical Forests: Working from Traditional Resource Use. New York. Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Roosevelt, Anna. 1990. “The historical perspective on resource use in tropical Latin America.” InEconomic Catalysts to Ecological Change, Working Papers, Tropical Conservation and Development Program. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida.Google Scholar
  55. --. 1992. “Secrets of the forest”.The Sciences (November–December): 22–28.Google Scholar
  56. Rosaldo, Renato. 1989.Culture and Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  57. Ruijter, Arie de. 1992. “Psychological versus structural validity: the case of ethnoscience.” InCognitive Relativism and Social Science (Diederick Raven, Lieteke van Vucht Tijssen, and Jan de Wolf, eds.). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, pp. 15–34.Google Scholar
  58. Sanford, Steven. 1983.Management of Pastoral Development in the Third World. New York: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  59. Shrire, Carmel. 1984. “Wild surmises on savage thoughts.” In Carmel Shrire (ed.).Past and Present in Hunter Gatherer Studies. New York: Academic Press, Inc.Google Scholar
  60. Stevens, William K. 1990. “Research in ‘virgin’ Amazon uncovers complex farming.”New York Times April 3, C1.Google Scholar
  61. Strong, Maurice. 1990. Forward toFirst Peoples by Julian Burger. London: Robertson McCarta.Google Scholar
  62. Thrupp, Lori Ann. 1989. “Legitimizing local knowledge: from displacement to empowerment for third world people.”Agriculture and Human Values 6 (3): 13–24.Google Scholar
  63. Warren, D. Michael. 1989. “In-dij'e-nes knowledge: a definition.”CIKARD News 1(1):4. Ames, IO: Center for Indigenous Knowledge for Agriculture and Rural Development.Google Scholar
  64. -- (ed.). 1991. Indigenous agricultural knowledge systems and development.Agriculture and Human Values (special issue) 8 (1–2).Google Scholar
  65. Wilson, Samuel M. 1992. “That unmanned wild countrey.”Natural History (May): 16–18.Google Scholar
  66. Woodley, Ellen. 1991. “Indigenous ecological knowledge systems and development.”Agriculture and Human Values 8 (1–2): 173–179.Google Scholar
  67. Wuketits, Franz M. 1990.Evolutionary Epistemology and it Implications for Humankind. Albany: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  68. Young, Louise B. 1991. “Easter Island: scary parable.”World Monitor (August): 40–45.Google Scholar
  69. Young, Philip. 1990–91. “Sustainable development: a commentary.”The DESFIL Newsletter 4 (4, Winter): 5.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • John O. Browder

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations