Changing fortunes [electronic resource] : biodiversity and peasant livelihood in the Peruvian Andes /
Karl S. Zimmerer.
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1996.
xi, 308 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.
0520203038 (alk. paper)
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Berkeley : University of California Press, c1996.
0520203038 (alk. paper)
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
"Brilliant study of the relationship between crop plant biodiversity, peasant behavior, and the larger society dispells some long held assertions about Andean farming. Based on fieldwork conducted during the 1980s in the highland portion of Paucartambo prov. (Cusco)"--Handbook of Latin American Studies, v. 57.
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Includes bibliographical references (p. 273-297) and index.
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"A significant contribution to our understanding of the local management of plant and animal genetic resources in the context of existing agricultural systems. . . . This book will be widely discussed."--Enrique Mayer, Yale University
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Appeared in Choice on 1997-08:
Zimmerer conducted his doctoral research in the Paucartambo valley in the Cuzco region of the Andes in the late 1980s. This book is drawn from his fieldwork there. The 1985 NOVA television special "Seeds of Tomorrow," with its theme of loss of crop diversity (genetic erosion, land-race extinction) resulting from agricultural modernization to produce market crops, becomes the foil for much of Zimmerer's discussion. Zimmerer maintains such arguments are exaggerated. Although he concedes loss of land-race diversity in indigenous crops such as maize, quinoa, olluco, and potatoes, he believes that cultural practices long established to deal with risk, acceptable cuisine, and the Andean peoples' proper interrelationship with the landscape, has and will maintain certain levels of crop biodiversity in Paucartambo. Even though substantial areas have been shifted to crop monoculture for markets and increasing population has resulted in soil degradation and environmental deterioration, Zimmerer argues that the culturally based practices derived from risk management have resulted in the "reinvention" of crop diversity, and will maintain it in the future. The debate is supported by 30 pages of notes, 21 plates and maps, and solid bibliography and index. Upper-division undergraduates and above. D. L. Browman; Washington University
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Choice, August 1997
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Long Description
Two of the world's most pressing needs--biodiversity conservation and agricultural development in the Third World--are addressed in Karl S. Zimmerer's multidisciplinary investigation in geography. Zimmerer challenges current opinion by showing that the world-renowned diversity of crops grown in the Andes may not be as hopelessly endangered as is widely believed. He uses the lengthy history of small-scale farming by Indians in Peru, including contemporary practices and attitudes, to shed light on prospects for the future. During prolonged fieldwork among Peru's Quechua peasants and villagers in the mountains near Cuzco, Zimmerer found convincing evidence that much of the region's biodiversity is being skillfully conserved on a de facto basis, as has been true during centuries of tumultuous agrarian transitions. Diversity occurs unevenly, however, because of the inability of poorer Quechua farmers to plant the same variety as their well-off neighbors and because land use pressures differ in different locations. Social, political, and economic upheavals have accentuated the unevenness, and Zimmerer's geographical findings are all the more important as a result. Diversity is indeed at serious risk, but not necessarily for the same reasons that have been cited by others. The originality of this study is in its correlation of ecological conservation, ethnic expression, and economic development.
Table of Contents
Fields of Plenty and Want
The Great Historical Arch of Andean Biodiversity
Transitions in Farm Nature and Society, 1969-1990
Innovation and the Spaces of Biodiversity
Loss and Conservation of the Diverse Crops
Diversity's Sum: Geography, Ecology-Economy, and Culture
The Vicissitudes of Biodiversity's Fortune
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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