In This Review

Amazonia: Territorial Struggles on Perennial Frontiers
Amazonia: Territorial Struggles on Perennial Frontiers
By Paul E. Little
Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001, 320 pp

In contrast to Slater, Little believes that the social imagery so characteristic of approaches to the Amazon can oversimplify reality. He argues that even the term "tropical rain forest" hides the fact that Amazonia contains a wide variety of ecosystems that include savannas, marshlands, upland forests, and flooded forests. Local peoples are often stereotyped; outsiders tend to overlook the fact that indigenous peoples make up less than five percent of the Amazon's population. Although deforestation is not new, its scale and rapidity have reached unprecedented levels, and its full effects will not be known for years. The emergence of indigenous organizations capable of defending their rights has radically altered frontier dynamics. The author's comprehensive perspective on the Aguarico River region in eastern Ecuador and the Jari River region in northern Brazil incisively examines how outside settlement and indigenous reaction took place throughout history. That point bolsters his larger argument that the Amazon's history shows continual waves of contestation over territory as new social groups and political powers emerge and change. Little sees no reason to assume that the twenty-first century will be any different.