The Environmental Management State in Latin America

AHA Session 212
Conference on Latin American History 51
Saturday, January 7, 2017: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Room 605 (Colorado Convention Center, Meeting Room Level)
Paul S. Sutter, University of Colorado at Boulder
Paul S. Sutter, University of Colorado at Boulder

Session Abstract

This session explores various ways in which Latin American states sought to manage the natural environment from the 1930s to today. It unpacks the state to analyze which agencies and bureaucracies, and with which rationalities, sought to improve or conserve various landscapes that compose the region. From Amazonia to the high Andes, and from tropical pasturelands to temperate areas, the Mexican, Peruvian and Colombian states strove to influence landscapes’ fate. The papers highlight the global connections contributing to these initiatives including scientific expertise, consumer demand, and cultural notions of domesticated and wild animals. Traditional literature on Latin America in the twentieth century is rich in studies of the state and how state initiatives have treated and shaped various citizens. Scholars have been less ready to consider the various ways state management schemes involved various aspects of the natural environment—from conservation units to grazing fields, forests to luxury wools. These papers place the state at the center of their analysis but not to describe institutional histories. Instead, the “transformation” and “conservation” of various environments becomes the fulcrum for social and cultural questions about the past.
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