chapter
Anthropogenecism
Pages 13

One consequence of the increase in research activity following on attempts over the past twenty years to accelerate the ‘development’ of the lowlands has been the heightened attention granted matters of environmental conservation. In part this simply reflects the abiding view that lowland societies are actually subsumed under nature, that they are contingent and undeveloped, but the privileging of an environmentalist perspective has also drawn attention to the ethnobiological knowledge of native peoples. In studies ranging throughout the Amazon basin, it has been clearly shown that the image of native peoples as dominated by nature is a serious misconstrual. Evidence of significant human modification of the environment over the past 12,000 years has required a re-evaluation of the pristineness of the evironment, and by implication the actual roles of prehistoric and historic indigenous peoples. The persuasive arguments concerning ethnobiological knowledge and the role it has played in indigenous modification of the environment have been a mixed blessing: while on one hand they attest to the malleability of an environment previously widely assumed to be incapable of bearing societies significantly different from those long regarded as typically ‘lowland’, on the other hand they have led to pressure to promote the ‘integration’ (a less than benign official euphemism for deculturation/assimilation) of native peoples within national societies through the commodification of their ‘native’ knowledge.