Search engine for discovering works of Art, research articles, and books related to Art and Culture
ShareThis
Javascript must be enabled to continue!

Rivers of God, Rivers of Empire: Climate Extremes, Environmental Transformation and Agroecology in Colonial Mexico

View through CrossRef
This paper explores the social-ecological effects of the Little Ice Age (1300-1850) in colonial Central Mexico. Archival research reconstructs the history of climate, soil, water and agriculture in two Central Mexican watersheds: the Zahuapan River in Tlaxcala and the San Juan River in the Teotihuacan Valley. I clarify social-ecological and landscape responses to climate stress, along with changing human resilience/vulnerability to anomalous weather. The methodology is interdisciplinary, comparing natural climate archives (plant and mineral) to historical climate archives (texts and images), examining hydrological and edaphic evidence and contextualising social-ecological change within a framework of indigenous agrarian innovation. Together, this research reveals a critical transition from nature-induced to anthropogenic cataclysms after the Late Maunder Minimum (1684-1713). Before this disjuncture, floods were rare events driven by extraordinary precipitation and without significant hydromorphological change. Afterward, cataclysms were frequent, poorly correlated to precipitation trends and determined by anthropogenic accelerated soil erosion that transformed watersheds. Evidence from both basins demonstrates the rapid onset of deep hillside erosion and valley sedimentation after 1715. I argue that the combined ecological shock of colonialism and climate was mediated by early-colonial indigenous agrosystems, resulting in transformation without lasting degradation. The transformative potential of the Little Ice Age lay dormant until the Late Maunder Minimum intersected with the metepantli system, a new agrarian regime based on the cultivation of agave plants in monocropped sloping terraces for the extraction of pulque (a beer-like beverage), whose economic wealth belied its impoverished ecology. Not only does this paper challenge - even negate - arguments that link degradation to early-colonial biology, pre-Columbian agriculture or eighteenth-century population growth; it identifies the Late Maunder Minimum as a transformative moment in colonial ecosystems - and, by extension, society - that gave rise to a degraded and devious landscape.
Title: Rivers of God, Rivers of Empire: Climate Extremes, Environmental Transformation and Agroecology in Colonial Mexico
Description:
This paper explores the social-ecological effects of the Little Ice Age (1300-1850) in colonial Central Mexico.
Archival research reconstructs the history of climate, soil, water and agriculture in two Central Mexican watersheds: the Zahuapan River in Tlaxcala and the San Juan River in the Teotihuacan Valley.
I clarify social-ecological and landscape responses to climate stress, along with changing human resilience/vulnerability to anomalous weather.
The methodology is interdisciplinary, comparing natural climate archives (plant and mineral) to historical climate archives (texts and images), examining hydrological and edaphic evidence and contextualising social-ecological change within a framework of indigenous agrarian innovation.
Together, this research reveals a critical transition from nature-induced to anthropogenic cataclysms after the Late Maunder Minimum (1684-1713).
Before this disjuncture, floods were rare events driven by extraordinary precipitation and without significant hydromorphological change.
Afterward, cataclysms were frequent, poorly correlated to precipitation trends and determined by anthropogenic accelerated soil erosion that transformed watersheds.
Evidence from both basins demonstrates the rapid onset of deep hillside erosion and valley sedimentation after 1715.
I argue that the combined ecological shock of colonialism and climate was mediated by early-colonial indigenous agrosystems, resulting in transformation without lasting degradation.
The transformative potential of the Little Ice Age lay dormant until the Late Maunder Minimum intersected with the metepantli system, a new agrarian regime based on the cultivation of agave plants in monocropped sloping terraces for the extraction of pulque (a beer-like beverage), whose economic wealth belied its impoverished ecology.
Not only does this paper challenge - even negate - arguments that link degradation to early-colonial biology, pre-Columbian agriculture or eighteenth-century population growth; it identifies the Late Maunder Minimum as a transformative moment in colonial ecosystems - and, by extension, society - that gave rise to a degraded and devious landscape.

Related Results

The Analysis of the Relationship between God, Religion and Politics in Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan and De Cive
The Analysis of the Relationship between God, Religion and Politics in Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan and De Cive
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) was a significant political theorist who could be regarded as the founder of social contract theories. Hobbes’s philosophy is worthy of attention in the h...
From Waste to Climate
From Waste to Climate
Abstract It has often been said that the problem with climate change is its invisibility. People do not mobilize about climate change because they cannot see it; eve...
Climate-induced changes in the phenotypic plasticity of the Heath Fritillary, Melitaea athalia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae)
Climate-induced changes in the phenotypic plasticity of the Heath Fritillary, Melitaea athalia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae)
Recently a large number of studies have reported an increase in the variability in the climate, which affects behavioural and physiological adaptations in a broad range of organism...
Climate Apartheid: The Forgetting of Race in the Anthropocene
Climate Apartheid: The Forgetting of Race in the Anthropocene
AbstractDespite recognition of the gender dimensions of climate change, there is little attention to racism in climate justice perspectives. In response, this article advocates dev...
Encountering Evil: The Evil-god Challenge from Religious Experience
Encountering Evil: The Evil-god Challenge from Religious Experience
It is often thought that religious experiences provide support for the cumulative case for the existence of the God of classical monotheism. In this paper, I formulate an Evil-god ...
What’s Happening to the Weather? Australian Climate, H. C. Russell, and the Theory of a Nineteen-Year Cycle
What’s Happening to the Weather? Australian Climate, H. C. Russell, and the Theory of a Nineteen-Year Cycle
The theory of a nineteen-year climate cycle put forward by acclaimed New SouthWales Government Astronomer Henry Chamberlain Russell is arguably one of his least successful contribu...
The Environmental Fall of the Roman Empire
The Environmental Fall of the Roman Empire
Global environmental history is currently being enriched by troves of new data, and new models of environmental variability and human impact. Earth scientists are rapidly expanding...
The Diffusion of Manichaeism in the Roman Empire
The Diffusion of Manichaeism in the Roman Empire
A study of the fate of Manichaeism in the Roman Empire derives its interest from three main problems. First, Manichaeism was invariably associated with Persia: to study the growth ...

Back to Top