Indians, Markets, and Rainforests: Theory, Methods, Analysis

Synopsis

This book addresses two important and related questions: does participation in a market economy help or hurt indigenous peoples and how does it affect the conservation of tropical rainforest flora and fauna? Oddly, there have been few quantitative studies that have addressed these issues. Ricardo Godoy's research takes an important step toward rectifying this oversight by investigating five different lowland Amerindian societies of tropical Latin America -- all of which are experiencing deep changes as they modernize. Godoy examines the effect of markets on a broad range of areas including health, conservation of flora and fauna, leisure, folk knowledge, reciprocity, and private time preference. He concludes that, contrary to considerable anthropological theory, the effect of markets on the quality of life and the rainforest are often unclear or benign. Godoy uses multivariate techniques to examine the changes modernization has had on many indicators of the quality of life and the environment and concludes that the seeds of socioeconomic differentiation may already lie dormant in simple economies. The impact of modernization on lowland Amerindians is a topic of great concern to anthropologists, researchers, and policymakers in developing nations, and this book is a significant contribution to the debate about the likely future of indigenous people.

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