The Social Causes of Environmental Destruction in Latin America

Michael Painter and William H. Durham, Editors
An important and timely study of environmental degradation in Central and South America


The Social Causes of Environmental Destruction in Latin America is a timely examination of critical cases of land degradation, deforestation, and resource depletion in Central and South America. The contributors—seasoned researchers with years of experience in the regions they discuss—convincingly document the idea that the causes of environmental destruction have their origins in social relations, specifically the dynamics of social classes with fundamentally divergent interests. The conditions facing impoverished families on the one hand, and the granting of land on a concessionary basis to powerful individuals and corporations on the other, create incentives to extensive land use without conservation. The book thus refutes simplistic arguments that address environmental destruction as an outcome of population growth and suggests that advocacy for social equity is not merely an idealistic quest but an ecological imperative.

This book is essential reading for anyone interested in developmental issues and should appeal particularly to anthropologists, sociologists, economists, demographers, and geographers.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . a stimulating collection. . . ."
    Journal of Social History
  • ". . . demonstrates the usefulness of political ecology for exploring the linkages between local, national, and global levels. It makes a valuable contribution to the development of political ecology as a coherent analytical framework seeking a balance between theory and field-based data collection and analysis. . . . The Social Causes of Environmental Destruction in Latin America helps advance the debate about 'sustainable development' by exposing the oxymoronic nature of much of the discussion, especially by mainstream international development and environmental agencies."
    Latin American Research Review

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 288pp.
  • maps, charts, tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1995
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06560-8

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  • $39.95 U.S.