'The Commons' in an Amazonian Context

in Social Analysis
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The tropical rainforest houses a wealth of both ecological and cultural diversity, and the species richness, ecosystem services, genetic wealth, and repository of indigenous and local environmental knowledge stored in this endangered region represent a global commons at risk. As articulated by Donald Nonini in the introduction to this forum, ‘the commons’ refers to those assemblages and ensembles of resources that human beings hold in common or in trust on behalf of themselves, other living human beings, and past and future generations of human beings, and that are essential to their biological, cultural, and social reproduction. In the Amazon, many ecological resources lend themselves to being held in a commons because of practical reasons, such as the difficulty of dividing it into smaller pieces (e.g., due to resource unpredictability, mobility, or the loss of ecological functioning if broken into pieces), and/or the costliness of excluding potential users. But social reasons and values foster the communal management of resources as well: various commons exemplify shared identity, provide economic buffering, mitigate subsistence risk, foster cooperation and conflict resolution, and serve as a pillar in the edifice of societies supporting socialization and social reproduction.