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* Constructing Nature

* Constructing Nature

Socio-Natural Histories of an Indian Forest

(p.148) 11 * Constructing Nature
The Social Lives of Forests
Kathleen D. MorrisonMark T. Lycett
University of Chicago Press

Conservation and development terminology often perpetuates an overly simplistic view of human–forest interactions. In applying labels such as biodiversity hotspot and contrasting pristine or primary forests with so-called secondary forests, conservation literature creates false narratives of complex, socionatural forest histories. This chapter employs archaeological, historical, and paleoenvironmental data to explore the Western Ghats of southern India as an example of a region that has been presented as a fragile remnant of pristine, “intact” forest, when the region, in reality, is just as much a product of dynamic historical phenomena as regions throughout India that have been labelled secondary forest. Although forest anthropogenesis may be more obvious in some areas than in others, as this case study illustrates, forest history and human history are linked processes best viewed as socionatural phenomena.

Keywords:   India, South Asia, Western Ghats, forest anthropogenesis, socionatural history, biodiversity hotspot, primary forest, secondary forest

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