Research Programs: Fellowships for University Teachers

Period of Performance

8/1/2005 - 7/31/2006

Funding Totals

$40,000.00 (approved)
$40,000.00 (awarded)

Community, Industry, and Science in Mexican Forests, 1880-2000

FAIN: FA-51614-05

Christopher Robert Boyer
Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois (Chicago, IL 60612-4305)

This project is a social history of Mexican forestlands between 1880 and 2000. It will show that scientists' changing understandings of ecology and the rational use of natural resources were distilled in a series of legislative codes and development projects that until recently did not take the practices or understandings of rural communities into account. These legal frameworks therefore became a central point of contention with rural people. I will study select communities in Chihuahua and Michoacán that sometimes resisted and sometimes accommodated to these government initiatives in order to show that social conflicts over the woodlands determined the fate of the forests and the communities that depended on them.

Associated Products

Political Landscapes: Forests, Conservation, and Community in Mexico (Book)
Title: Political Landscapes: Forests, Conservation, and Community in Mexico
Author: Christopher R. Boyer
Abstract: Following the 1910 Mexican Revolution inhabitants of the states of Chihuahua and Michoacán received vast tracts of prime timberland as part of Mexico's land redistribution program. Although locals gained possession of the forests, the federal government retained management rights, which created conflict over subsequent decades among rural, often indigenous villages; government; and private timber companies about how best to manage the forests. Christopher R. Boyer examines this history in Political Landscapes, where he argues that the forests in Chihuahua and Michoacán became what he calls "political landscapes"—that is, geographies that become politicized by the interactions between opposing actors—through the effects of backroom deals, nepotism, and political negotiations. Understanding the historical dynamic of community forestry in Mexico is particularly critical for those interested in promoting community involvement in the use and conservation of forestlands around the world. Considering how rural and indigenous people have confronted, accepted, and modified the rationalizing projects of forest management foisted on them by a developmentalist state is crucial before community management is implemented elsewhere.
Year: 2015
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Book description on Duke University Press Website
Access Model: Available for Purchase
Publisher: Duke University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 0822358328
Copy sent to NEH?: No


Best Book in Social Sciences
Date: 12/15/2015
Organization: Mexico Section of the Latin American Studies Association
Abstract: This is an annual award granted by the Mexican Studies section of the Latin American Studies Association to the best book in "social sciences" published in the previous year.

Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Book Award
Date: 3/14/2017
Organization: The Forest History Society
Abstract: The Forest History Society's Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Book Award rewards superior scholarship in forest and conservation history. Awarded biennially prior to 2004, this annual award goes to an author who has exhibited fresh insight into a topic and whose narrative analysis is clear, inventive, and thought-provoking.

Honorable Mention, Bolton-Johnson Prize
Date: 1/5/2017
Organization: Committee on Latin American History
Abstract: Prize awarded annually for the best English-language book on any aspect of Latin American History by the premier learned society on Latin American History