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Indians, Markets, and Rainforests

Indians, Markets, and Rainforests: Theoretical, Comparative, and Quantitative Explorations in the Neotropics

Ricardo A. Godoy
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Indians, Markets, and Rainforests
    Book Description:

    This book addresses two important and related questions: does participation in a market economy help or hurt indigenous peoples and how does it affect the conservation of tropical rainforest flora and fauna? Oddly, there have been few quantitative studies that have addressed these issues.

    Ricardo Godoy's research takes an important step toward rectifying this oversight by investigating five different lowland Amerindian societies of tropical Latin America -- all of which are experiencing deep changes as they modernize. Godoy examines the effect of markets on a broad range of areas including health, conservation of flora and fauna, leisure, folk knowledge, reciprocity, and private time preference. He concludes that, contrary to considerable anthropological theory, the effect of markets on the quality of life and the rainforest are often unclear or benign. Godoy uses multivariate techniques to examine the changes modernization has had on many indicators of the quality of life and the environment and concludes that the seeds of socioeconomic differentiation may already lie dormant in simple economies.

    The impact of modernization on lowland Amerindians is a topic of great concern to anthropologists, researchers, and policymakers in developing nations, and this book is a significant contribution to the debate about the likely future of indigenous people.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50503-1
    Subjects: Environmental Science, Economics, Sociology, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-X)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. XI-XIV)

    This book contains three sections and 12 chapters that move the reader from the background and motivation for the study (Part I), to an analysis of how markets have affected the use of natural resources, aspects of social life, and knowledge by indigenous people (Part II), and on to some of the broader conclusions for policy-makers and academics (Part III).

    This book begins in chapter 1 by posing the question: “What are the effects of markets on the welfare of lowland indigenous people and the conservation of tropical rain forests?” and discusses the significance of the question in terms of...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. XV-XX)
  5. Part I The Question, the Research Design, and the People

    • Chapter 1 The Question and Its Significance
      (pp. 3-14)

      The discussion in this chapter tries to accomplish four goals. First, it poses the question, “What are the effects of markets on the welfare of lowland indigenous people and the conservation of tropical rainforests?” and discusses the significance of the question in terms of anthropological theory and public policy.

      Second, it identifies the outcomes that dominate the empirical analysis of Part II and explains the rationale behind the choice of outcomes. For reasons of theory, public policy, and personal preference the chapter focuses on how markets shape certain aspects of subsistence (e.g., forest clearance), welfare (e.g., health), and cognition (e.g.,...

    • Chapter 2 Comparing Approaches
      (pp. 15-32)

      As in other parts of the developing world, the expansion of markets in the tropical lowlands of Latin America has often followed conquest and migration. Indigenous people in the lowlands have joined the market as part of business cycles of forest goods, or as part of a longer and less reversible trend. Something as complex as the incorporation of indigenous people into a market economy—with so many regional variants and with so many historical nuances—requires the use of different theories and disciplines to be understood well. No approach can explain in full the many causes and consequences of...

    • Chapter 3 Research Design
      (pp. 33-48)

      Chapters 1 and 2 contained a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of different methods used to study the effect of markets on welfare and on conservation among indigenous people. Some of the shortcomings included: failure to identify the direction of causality, reliance on bivariate analysis, and insufficient attention to definitions, to the role of omitted variables, and to functional form.

      This chapter discusses how to rectify the shortcomings. The rationale for the choice of cultures, the methods used to collect information in each culture, the quality of the information collected, the implications of different measurement errors for the analysis,...

    • Chapter 4 Ethnographic Sketches
      (pp. 49-66)

      This chapter contains historical and ethnographic sketches of the Tawahka, Tsimane´, Mojeño, Yuracaré, and Chiquitano. The sketches have been included for three reasons:

      to underscore each culture’s long history of economic contact with the outside world

      to provide a context for understanding the statistical results of Part II

      to understand in a qualitative way why each culture displays variance in integration to the market

      Many details have been left out of the vignettes because it was more important to highlight aspects of history and ethnography that bear in a direct way on later discussions. Descriptions of the habitat have been...

  6. Part II The Findings

    • Chapter 5 Forest Clearance: Income, Technology, and Private Time Preference
      (pp. 69-86)

      The debate about how markets affect conservation has divided researchers into three camps. Anthropologists since the days of Daniel Gross (et al. 1979) and Shelton Davis (1977) have said that markets and state policies hurt conservation (Bodley 1988; Painter and Durham 1995; Sponsel, Headland, and Bailey 1996). A second group of scholars has said that markets enhance conservation, provided people enjoy secure rights of property to land (Hyde, Amacher, and Magrath 1995; World Bank 1992). A third group of scholars has said that economic development produces ambiguous effects on conservation (Bawa and Dayanandan 1997; Cropper and Griffiths 1994). Although social...

    • Chapter 6 Game Consumption, Income, and Prices: Empirical Estimates and Implications for Conservation
      (pp. 87-98)

      For many years, anthropologists and ecologists have been discussing the link between economic development and changes in the way lowland Amerindians hunt. So far, however, they have provided few direct, quantitative estimates of how income and prices affect the consumption of game (Jorgenson 1997; Stearman 1990; Vickers 1988, 1994). Such estimates are useful in identifying the wildlife most likely to face hunting pressure and extinction as rural economies modernize. Such estimates are also useful in identifying broader policies that are likely to improve conservation. This chapter examines how changes in the income of indigenous people and the price of wildlife...

    • Chapter 7 Chayanov and Netting: When Does Demography Matter?
      (pp. 99-114)

      The last two chapters have tried to show that markets and economic development may not reduce the availability of wildlife and may even encourage the consumption of substitutes, such as meat from domesticated animals. They also suggested that markets might improve and worsen deforestation—depending on the household’s type and level of income. This chapter moves away from exploring the effect of markets on indigenous people’s use of natural resources and begins to explore how markets affect the role of demography in production.

      The starting point is Alexander V. Chayanov’s classic treatise, The Theory of Peasant Economy, first published in...

    • Chapter 8 Chayanov and Sahlins on Work and Leisure
      (pp. 115-126)

      When comparing cultures with different types of subsistence or economies with different levels of income, the amount of leisure available to people provides an intuitive feeling for whether the quality of life gets better or worse with economic development and cultural change. In cultural anthropology, Marshall Sahlins immortalized the idea of using leisure as a yardstick to gauge prosperity and the quality of life. In his justly famous, provocative, and terse masterpiece, “Notes on The Original Affluent Society,” Sahlins (1968) reviewed the archaeological and ethnographic record and concluded that leisure declined with economic complexity—as one went from foraging bands...

    • Chapter 9 Human Health: Does It Worsen with Markets?
      (pp. 127-150)

      For more than half a century, cultural and biological anthropologists and medical professionals have been debating the effects of markets and culture change on the health of indigenous people (Lambert 1931 quoted in Bodley 1988). In recent years, the debate has broadened to include a discussion of how economic development embodied in deforestation, urbanization, and migration contributes to the emergence and re-emergence of epidemics (Brinkman 1994; Levins 1994; Institute of Medicine 1997)—particularly among indigenous people with tenuous links to the market (Jenkins 1989). Through mechanisms we do not understand well, economic development seems linked to the spread of vector-borne...

    • Chapter 10 Mishaps, Savings, and Reciprocity
      (pp. 151-172)

      Ever since the publication of Marcel Mauss’ (1990 [orig. 1927]) Essay on the Gift early in the twentieth century, a distinguished group of anthropologists (Lévi-Strauss 1969; Parry 1993; Parry and Bloch 1989; Sahlins 1972) has stressed the prevalence of reciprocity in foraging bands and traditional rural societies and the partial replacement of reciprocal solidarity by more mechanical and impersonal forms of contracts as societies modernize (Appadurai 1986; Carrier 1990; Yang 1989).

      Reciprocal relations confer many advantages. They allow people to smooth consumption, get goods and services they lack, and strengthen social bonds (Dwyer and Minnegal 1993; Goland 1993; Winterhalder 1986;...

    • Chapter 11 Trade and Cognition: On the Growth and Loss of Knowledge
      (pp. 173-184)
      Nicholas Brokaw, David Wilkie, Daniel Colón, Adam Palermo, Suzanne Lye and Stanley Wei

      People have often lamented the loss of plant and animal knowledge by indigenous people as they join the market (Diamond 1994; Goleman 1991; Plotkin 1993; Time September 23, 1991). Knowledge of cultivars and forms of tillage that grew at a geologic tempo over centuries may be vanishing, as rural people adopt modern plant varieties and new ways of farming.

      Although markets may erode knowledge of some plants and animals, they are also likely to produce greater retention and more knowledge of other plants and animals. Recent studies show that markets exert more complex and unclear effects on such things as...

    • Chapter 12 Time Preference, Markets, and the Evolution of Social Inequality
      (pp. 185-198)

      People’s valuation of the future affects how much they consume, invest, and save. Because it touches on so many areas, that valuation affects how an entire economy operates. Margo Wilson and her associates point out (Wilson, Daly, and Gordon 1997) that despite the importance of private time preference—the willingness to substitute consumption over time or delay gratification—relatively little is known about its origin or socioeconomic consequences. What little we do know comes mainly from industrial societies (Kirby and Marakovic 1996; Loewenstein 1992; Pender 1996; Thaler and Loewenstein 1989).

      Drawing on information from the Tsimane´, this chapter begins to...

  7. Part III What We Have Learned

    • [Part III Introduction]
      (pp. 199-202)

      Because markets have so often grown alongside conquest, migration, and cultural change, people have attributed the effects of other processes to markets. Like the birth of most new institutions, markets, when first introduced, caused stress. Markets undermined the role of traditional healers and craftsmen. Once they acquired guns, metal pots, and plastic buckets, indigenous people enclosed their huts or moved away from communal houses to hide their wealth. Soon after contact, Indians in North and South America—in parallel fashion—started to fight with each other to get Western goods (Chagnon 1992:260-261; Ferguson 1992, 1995; Rich 1960). Soon after contact,...

    • Chapter 13 CONCLUSIONS
      (pp. 203-208)

      This chapter contains a summary of the book’s contribution to anthropological theory, anthropological methods, and public policy.

      There is no unified theory to explaining in a parsimonious way what happens to the habitat, society, ideas, quality of life, and material culture of indigenous people as they become part of the market. Rather than develop such a theory or wait until someone else does, this book has presented the results of empirical explorations before the indigenous people we know today disappear forever. Commercial goods and relations have seeped into lowland Indian societies for centuries, but the rate of exposure to the...

  8. Appendix Test of Folk Knowledge
    (pp. 209-212)
  9. References
    (pp. 213-240)
  10. Index
    (pp. 241-256)