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Prophets of Agroforestry Guarani Communities and Commercial Gathering by Richard K. Reed

Prophets of Agroforestry Guarani Communities and Commercial Gathering


Prophets of Agroforestry Guarani Communities and Commercial Gathering by Richard K. Reed

For almost four centuries, the indigenous Chiripa (Guarani) people of eastern Paraguay have maintained themselves as a distinct society and culture, despite continual and often intense relations with Paraguayan society and the international economy. In this study, Richard K. Reed explores the economic and social basis for this ethnic autonomy. Reed finds that Chiripa economic power derives from their practice of commercial agroforestry. Unlike Latin American indigenous societies that have been forced to clear land for commercial agriculture, the Chiripa continue to harvest and sell forest products, such as caffeinated yerba mate, without destroying the forests. Reed also explores the relation of this complex economy to Chiripa social organization and shows how flexible kin ties allowed the Chiripa to adapt to the pressure and opportunities of the commercial economy without adopting the authoritarian nature of rural Paraguayan society. These findings offer important insights into the relations among indigenous groups, nation-states, and the international economy. They also provide a timely alternative model for sustainable management of subtropical forests that will be of interest in the fields of development and environmental studies.

About the Author

Richard K. Reed is Professor of Anthropology at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st June 2012


Richard K. Reed

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University of Texas Press


271 pages


Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography



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