Coffee Hour: The Cycad Eaters

Friday, September 21, 2012 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm
Refreshments are offered at 3:30 p.m. in 319 Walker Building Talk begins at 4:00 p.m. in 112 Walker Building

The Cycad Eaters: Struggles for environmental justice in a northeastern Honduran town

This ethnographic portrait focuses on the municipio of Gualaco, part of the autochthonous province of Olancho. In Gualaqueño society, consumption of foods made from the neurotoxic ‘tiusinte’ (Dioon mejiae, a tree cycad) is both a subsistence strategy and a central part of one’s cultural heritage, marking the type of complex, spatial identity at the core of Honduras’s environmental resistance. In just two decades, Gualaco has experienced an extraordinary series of environmental disruptions that have pitted the extractive logic of Neoliberalism against a radical interpretation of "sustainable development," creating deep and dangerous rifts but also favoring coalitions of "strange bedfellows" among Liberation theologists, ranchers, agents of "big development," coffee growers, and numerous others. The presentation uses the stories of "aquellos olanchanos que comen tiusinte" to reveal aspects of the broader revolution occurring in Honduras.



Mark Bonta resides part-time in Ardmore, Pennsylvania and is also Visiting Associate Professor of Geography and Sustainable Development at Delta State University, in the Yazoo-Mississippi Basin, where he has developed a program in environmental justice and community-based conservation. As an ethnographer and ethno-ornithologist, his research has focused primarily on political-ecological questions in Honduras, through the lens of theories suggested by readings of Deleuze and Guattari. He is currently engaged in a project partially funded by the National Geographic Society, "Biodiversity, Endemism, and Community-based Conservation in Northeastern Honduras," focused primarily on cloud forests.