Bountiful Deserts: Sustaining Indigenous Worlds in Northern New Spain (Latin American Landscapes) (Hardcover)

Bountiful Deserts: Sustaining Indigenous Worlds in Northern New Spain (Latin American Landscapes) By Cynthia Radding Cover Image
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Common understandings drawn from biblical references, literature, and art portray deserts as barren places that are far from God and spiritual sustenance. In our own time, attention focuses on the rigors of climate change in arid lands and the perils of the desert in the northern Mexican borderlands for migrants seeking shelter and a new life.

Bountiful Deserts foregrounds the knowledge of Indigenous peoples in the arid lands of northwestern Mexico, for whom the desert was anything but barren or empty. Instead, they nurtured and harvested the desert as a bountiful and sacred space. Drawing together historical texts and oral testimonies, archaeology, and natural history, author Cynthia Radding develops the relationships between people and plants and the ways that Indigenous people sustained their worlds before European contact through the changes set in motion by Spanish encounters, highlighting the long process of colonial conflicts and adaptations over more than two centuries. This work reveals the spiritual power of deserts by weaving together the cultural practices of historical peoples and contemporary living communities, centered especially on the Yaqui/Yoeme and Mayo/Yoreme.

Radding uses the tools of history, anthropology, geography, and ecology to paint an expansive picture of Indigenous worlds before and during colonial encounters. She re-creates the Indigenous worlds in both their spiritual and material realms, bringing together the analytical dimension of scientific research and the wisdom of oral traditions in its exploration of different kinds of knowledge about the natural world.

Published in cooperation with the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University

About the Author

Cynthia Radding, Gussenhoven Distinguished Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the author of Landscapes of Power and Identity: Comparative Histories in the Sonoran Desert and the Forests of Amazonia from Colony to Republic and numerous edited volumes, chapters, and articles.

Praise For…

“Radding’s impressive research and masterful ability to synthesize scholarship from diverse disciplines presents a comprehensive and compelling new understanding that places arid landscapes among the contested cultural spaces of the early modern world. She interprets the past with an explicit ‘poetics of history’ that embraces the contradiction of a bountiful desert to understand and explain the overlapping human ecologies of plant biomes in unexpected times and places.”—Emily Wakild, author of Revolutionary Parks: Conservation, Social Justice, and Mexico’s National Parks, 1910–1940

Product Details
ISBN: 9780816546923
ISBN-10: 0816546924
Publisher: University of Arizona Press
Publication Date: October 11th, 2022
Pages: 368
Language: English
Series: Latin American Landscapes

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