Andrew S. Mathews’s Instituting Nature is an excellent addition to a growing list of books that examine the dynamic relationship between the Mexican state and rural communities through an environmental lens. By following the twentieth- century history of the forests of Oaxaca’s Sierra Juárez, Mathews, an anthropologist, draws innovative conclusions about the nature of bureaucracy and the intricacies of institutional knowledge. He argues that official knowledge is neither merely a “power- laden discourse” nor “the result of a project of legibility” (p. 201) imposed by an all- powerful state. Rather, it is coproduced at the intersection of bureaucracy and its allied social groups. Expertise thus operates on the axis of social power, simultaneously creating silences and ignorance that, Mathews notes, are integral components of knowledge production, not its opposites. At the heart of this work lies a cogent critique of development and state studies, which tend to overestimate the reach...
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Book Review| May 01 2013
Instituting Nature: Authority, Expertise, and Power in Mexican Forests
Instituting Nature: Authority, Expertise, and Power in Mexican Forests. By Mathews, Andrew S..
Politics, Science, and the Environment.
Illustrations. Maps. Figures. Tables. Notes. Glossary. Bibliography. Index. xii, 312 pp. Paper, $27.00.
Hispanic American Historical Review (2013) 93 (2): 316–318.
Matthew Vitz; Instituting Nature: Authority, Expertise, and Power in Mexican Forests. Hispanic American Historical Review 1 May 2013; 93 (2): 316–318. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182168-2077441
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