From Rainforest to Cane Field in Cuba: An Environmental History since 1492 / Edition 1

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Overview

In this award-winning environmental history of Cuba since the age of Columbus, Reinaldo Funes Monzote emphasizes the two processes that have had the most dramatic impact on the island's landscape: deforestation and sugar cultivation. During the first 300 years of Spanish settlement, sugar plantations arose primarily in areas where forests had been cleared by the royal navy, which maintained an interest in management and conservation for the shipbuilding industry. The sugar planters won a decisive victory in 1815, however, when they were allowed to clear extensive forests, without restriction, for cane fields and sugar production. This book is the first to consider Cuba's vital sugar industry through the lens of environmental history. Funes Monzote demonstrates how the industry that came to define Cuba&#151and upon which Cuba urgently depended—also devastated the ecology of the island.

The original Spanish-language edition of the book, published in Mexico in 2004, was awarded the UNESCO Book Prize for Caribbean Thought, Environmental Category. For this first English edition, the author has revised the text throughout and provided new material, including a glossary and a conclusion that summarizes important developments up to the present.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Funes' book is one of the precursors of a growing literature that has been vigorously developing. . . . The quality of this book enriches Latin American environmental historiography."--Sixteenth Century Journal

"Funes Monzote's extensive, well-researched, and finely detailed study. . . . is destined to become a classic foundation to the environmental history of the Greater Antilles." --Canadian Journal of History

"A fascinating and timely book. . . . One that all politicians and policy makers need to read. . . . A well-crafted account. . . . More than an environmental history."--The Americas

"A major contribution to the environmental history of Cuba and the Caribbean. . . . Will . . . serve as a guide to writers on the environmental history of other islands in the Caribbean and around the tropical world."--Journal of American Studies

"A major accomplishment. . . . A fascinating, provocative and substantive addition to Latin American environmental history."--Journal of Latin American Studies

"An essential contribution to the wider fields of environmental and Latin American history. . . . The author's decision to make the forest the focal point of his analysis is innovative and effective."--Canadian Journal of Latin American & Caribbean Studies

"A major accomplishment. . . . A fascinating, provocative and substantive addition to Latin American environmental history."--Journal of Latin American Studies

"[A] fine environmental history."--New West Indian Guide

"Seminal. . . . [A] splendid example of the richness of Latin American environmental history."--Hispanic American Historical Review

"A very fine book that provides a comprehensive environmental history of the occupation of Cuba since 1492 and its transformation from a mostly forested island to one dominated by sugar cane."--American Historical Review

"[A] very extensive examination. . . . Highly recommended."--Choice

"An important study of the human-induced evolution of the Cuban landscape since the arrival of Columbus."--Caribbean Review of Books

"A magisterial environmental history. . . . [With] comprehensive scope, original argument, and eloquent writing."--World Sugar History Newsletter

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807831281
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 3/3/2008
  • Series: Envisioning Cuba Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Reinaldo Funes Monzote is associate professor of history at the University of Havana.

Alex Martin is an independent translator living in Maryland.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Preface
Introduction
1 The Omnipresent Forest and the Beginnings of the Sugar Industry
2 Shipbuilding and the Sugar Industry, 1772-1791
3 The Struggle over Private Ownership of Forests, 1792-1815
4 Sugar and the Absolute Freedom to Clear Forests, 1815-1876
5 Centralization of the Sugar Industry and the Forests, 1876-1898
6 North American Capital and Sugar's Final Assault on the Forest, 1898-1926
Conclusion: From Forests to Sugar: An Insignificant Change?
Appendix 1: Scientific Names of Plants and Animals
Appendix 2: Temperature and Precipitation in the Natural Regions of Cuba
Appendix 3: Units of Measure, with Equivalents
Notes
Glossary
Bibliographic Essay
Index

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