Bookbeat: February 1999

SMITH BOOKThe Amazon River Forest: A Natural History of Plants, Animals, and People

by Nigel J.H. Smith, Geography
(Oxford University Press, 1999)
Available through Amazon

In this book, geographer Nigel Smith reviews the natural history of the area from the people's perspective, offering a large-scale portrayal of the culture of the region not found in most books on Amazonia. The book investigates how the ways in which people make a living are entwined with religious and spiritual beliefs, as well as with nature. Smith challenges the notion that the Amazon basin is a demographic void and a cultural backwater, arguing that the region, densely settled in the past, could again become a prosperous agricultural area. He points out that the local inhabitants' knowledge of the basin's natural history is a vital—and sorely overlooked—resource for sound economic development. Topics explored include ecological, cultural, and socioeconomic issues surrounding animal husbandry, domestication of game, annual cropping, agroforestry, and the gathering of forest products. Examining the historical dimensions of various land uses, Smith suggests practical ways to develop the floodplain that enhance, rather than destroy, biodiversity.

- Publisher


Experience has shown that intensifying food production in Amazonia with heavy reliance on machinery and purchased chemicals for crop protection is risky. The low prices that basic staples fetch in the market endanger any farming with crops that require heavy investment. Much can be learned about how traditional food-producing systems are changing on the floodplain in response to the growing market for staples in towns and cities. Some of the low-cost strategies employed by small farmers could probably be modified to increase yields without damaging the environment. Women's Rights: The Racial Origins of Feminism in the United States

by Louise Michele Newman, Department of History
(Oxford University Press, 1999)
Available through Amazon

White Women's Rights offers a persuasive and entirely new analysis of the race-based underpinnings of American feminist thought between the 1850s and the 1920s. While previous scholarship had highlighted the ethnocentrism of certain 19th century American women or feminists, Newman demonstrates that feminism itself, as a set of ideas, had an intrinsically racial component. Her argument is original, complex and subtle.

- Publisher


Prior to the demand for domestic training, all mothers regardless of class or ethnic background, potentially had been equals in their mothering because mothering had been understood as a "natural" quality inherent in womanhood, not a skill to be taught and learned. In demanding training for motherhood (and training for teachers to train mothers), Beecher introduced a new class hierarchy among women—creating new categories of better and worse mothers. Moreover, Beecher's demands for domestic reform and the professionalization of motherhood introduced new racialized divisions among white, immigrant, and black women, since many groups—including enslaved, immigrant and Native American women—were automatically excluded from Beecher's conception because they did not have the kind of homes Beecher conceived as the foundation for "woman's political authority.

Proceedings of the Twenty-Sixth Conference of the North American Thermal Analysis Society, September 13-15, 1998, Cleveland, OhioProceedings of the Twenty-Sixth Conference of the North American Thermal Analysis Society, September 13-15, 1998, Cleveland, Ohio

edited by Kathryn Williams, Department of Chemistry

- Publisher



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