Common field agriculture as a cultural landscape of Latin America: Development and history in the geographical customs of resource use

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Abstract

Common field agriculture is a form of community-based landscape use. This ethnogeographic custom coordinates the production of crops and livestock grazing in managed fallow among the designated sectors of a community. Areas of cropping and communal grazing and resource collection are spatially separate and sequenced temporally. A number of indigenous peasant communities utilize common field agriculture (suyu, surt'i) in the tropical mountain landscapes of Peru and Bolivia. Presumably pre-European, it was recast under Spanish colonialism for tribute payments and food supply. Recent neoliberal development and conservation, common to Latin America, could either imperil or give incentive to this landscape custom. Uncoordinated intensification of land use is the chief threat. Benefits, both environmental and social, include the management of soils, vegetation, and crop pest and disease in Andean grass-shrub fallows; the reduction of labor-time demands in land use; and the bolstering of local food supply. Common field agriculture is of considerable promise to policymaking and planning. Program development would need to account for its historical and present-day interaction, including the role of local gender-related dynamics, with extralocal forces that presently include the predominant policies of land privatization and resource conservation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-63
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Cultural Geography
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Geography, Planning and Development

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