Susanna B. Hecht

Susanna B. Hecht

Fellow: Awarded 2008
Field of Study: Geography and Environmental Studies

Competition: US & Canada

University of California, Los Angeles

Susanna B. Hecht is a Professor of Urban Planning in the School of Public Affairs at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she has held an appointment since 1985. Ms. Hecht is widely recognized as a leading light in the subfield of political ecology, which embraces socioeconomics, ecology, history, literature, and a wide range of other fields in an effort to produce a richer portrait and deeper understanding of any given area and the influences of it and on it. The support her work has received from a very wide spectrum of institutions—from the Wenner Gren Foundation to NASA, and from the World Bank to the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton—underlines the multidisciplinarity of her work.

Ms. Hecht’s groundbreaking studies on the Amazonian region include the now-classic Fate of the Forest: Destroyers, Developers, and Defenders of the Amazon (1990), which she wrote with Alexander Cockburn; it was named one of the most influential books of 2004 in cultural geography by the American Association of Geography, and received many other honors as well. She also authored “The Last Unfinished Page of Genesis: Euclides da Cunha and the Amazon,” Historical Geography, 32 (2004); “Soybeans, development, and conservation of the Amazon frontier,” Development and Change, 36, No. 2 (2005); and “Globalization and forest recovery in inhabited landscapes,” Bioscience, 57, No. 8 (2007), among many other articles. Amazon Odyssey: Euclides da Conha and the Scramble for Amazonia, her most recent monograph, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2008.

Her work during her Guggenheim Fellowship focused on how the rubber boom in the Upper Amazon, specifically along the Purus River, spurred deforestation, as clearings were cut not only for pastureland for the oxen and mules that hauled the rubber to the river but also for the colonies of workers who in turn cut trees to feed the multitude of steamboats that transported the product.


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