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Landesque Capital: The Historical Ecology of Enduring Landscape Modifications (New Frontiers in Historical Ecology) Hardcover – 30 Mar 2014

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About the Author

N. Thomas Hakansson is Professor of Rural Development at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. He has done extensive field and archival research on the emergence and maintenance of irrigation and permanent agriculture in pre-colonial and colonial Kenya and Tanzania. Mats Widgren is Professor of Geography at Stockholm University. He has researched landscape history from a social science perspective in Sweden, Botswana, Kenya, South Africa and in a global context. He is co-author of Islands of Intensive Agriculture (Ohio University Press 2004)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Valuable resource on traditional landscape management 15 Jun. 2014
By E. N. Anderson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Landesque capital is a term coined by Amartya Sen, to refer to major modifications in the land (fixed capital in the form of land modification). This book deals with such modifications in traditional societies. Terracing as in Luzon and east Africa, irrigation systems and canals, and constructed wet-fields such as rice paddies and taro fields are the main forms discussed here. Kathleen Morrison notes that such large-scale, heavy-labor developments grade imperceptibly into ordinary field creation and ultimately into the alteration of the soil by farming. And of course the line between "land" and "capital" is deliberately blurred here, if not downright obliterated. So we are dealing with a fuzzy set--a concept with no firm boiundary. It grades into more ordinary classifications of land.
What are important in these studies are the attention to ethnographic context and to detailed histories. Landesque capital flourishes within historical ecology. All these major landscape modifications required a lot of time to build, and have to be maintained indefinitely. Some terracing systems are quite young (the Luzon ones did not take off till 400 years ago), but others are thousands of years old.
Many, if not all, these systems were started and developed for ritual, ceremonial, or status reasons. Many produced commodities for trade. It is possible that some major, difficult landscape modifications were purely for subsistence, but apparently not common. People need a stronger set of motives.
Having studied or observed systems like this in China, Indonesia and Peru, I find this book a very valuable resource. I would recommend that everyone read it with Google Maps or some comparable software loaded and at the ready. I sought out the sites (at least the ones I didn't know) on Google Maps to get a sense of what the terraces and canals looked like on the ground, and found this extremely helpful in understanding.
Five Stars 5 Jan. 2015
By Augusto Oyuela-caycedo - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Great book!
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