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Author Coomes, Oliver Thomas
Title Making a living in the Amazon rain forest: Peasants, land, and economy in the Tahuayo River Basin of northeastern Peru
Descript 468 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 54-04, Section: A, page: 1498
Supervisor: William Maxfield Denevan
Thesis (Ph.D.)--The University of Wisconsin - Madison, 1992
The economic nature of peasant life in Amazonia remains little studied despite the importance of traditional agriculture and extraction in the regional economy and its relevance to rain forest conservation. Previous works suggest that riverine peasants of the basin (riberenos/caboclos) employ a wide diversity of strategies to secure their livelihood, from agroforestry to fishing and extraction. This study provides one of the first systematic examinations of such economic activity among river peasants in Amazonia
Peasant economic livelihood was considered through a regional case study of riberenos and colonists along the Tahuayo River, a small blackwater affluent of the Amazon, near Iquitos. An historical analysis of the formative Rubber Boom period (1860-1920) and resource use since provides the backdrop for considering contemporary livelihood practices. A large-scale survey of agricultural production and forest extraction in the 18 settlements of the region allowed the estimation of market income for 501 households. Statistical analyses of income level variations and production patterns revealed the most salient factors in livelihood strategy choice and income formation
High diversity in the peasant livelihood strategies was explained by proximity to a large urban market, environmental heterogeneity, village age and historical experience, and subtle differences in household endowments. Most peasant households are poor, earning less than $350/year in cash, though income levels varied widely within the region. Higher income families possessed more fields, more non-land assets, and better access to extra-family labor. Agriculture was the central subsistence strategy of all households, regardless of the economic importance of extraction. Whereas considerable diversity was observed in subsistence production, market product specialization was noted both at household and village levels. Household specialization was related to the level of market income, the number of consumers in the household, and the age of the head of household. Village specialization reflects an on-going process of indigenous agricultural change driven by market forces and produces a dynamic mosaic of crop specialties that characterizes the landscape of the region. The implications of these findings are discussed for rain forest conservation and research on resource use practices among indigenous and non-indigenous peoples of Amazonia
School code: 0262
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 54-04A
Subject Anthropology, Cultural
History, Latin American
Economics, Agricultural
Alt Author The University of Wisconsin - Madison
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