thinkspatial_logoThe UCSB brown-bag forum on spatial thinking presents

Forest, Weeds, and Hair: Nature, Culture, and the Management of “Covers” in Amazonia

Jeffrey Hoelle

Department of Anthropology

University of California, Santa Barbara

12:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 11, 2016 | 3512 Phelps Hall (map)


View Flyer


Amazonian deforestation is measured and monitored through the analysis of two principal land cover categories—forest and non-forest. These covers are defined by geo-spatial properties, such as density, height, boundaries, and edges. In this presentation, Hoelle extends the concept of cover to other Amazonian settings where the forest and other forms of nature, such as weeds and hair, are managed, cultivated or groomed. Drawing on interviews and mapping exercises he examines conceptual categories and cover patterns in rural farms and ranches; the remote forest reserve of the rubber tappers; urban homes, parks, cemeteries, and public spaces; and beauty salons and barber shops. Hoelle discusses how local perceptions of “clean” humanized spaces are valued over natural covers, which are seen as dirty, threatening, or backward. Global environmental change is commonly understood to be caused by human actions on an external or distant nature, but he argues for attention to the daily practices, ideologies of nature, and structural inequalities that influence human-environment interactions from the contested Amazon rainforest to our own landscapes, lawns, and bodies.

Jeffrey Hoelle is an assistant professor of Anthropology and faculty affiliate in Environmental Studies Geography, and Latin American and Iberian Studies at UCSB. His research examines human-environment interactions in the Brazilian Amazon. He is the author of Rainforest Cowboys: The Rise of Ranching and Cattle Culture in Western Amazonia, which won the 2016 Book Award from the Latin American Studies Association’s Brazil Section.

The objectives of the ThinkSpatial brown-bag presentations are to exchange ideas about spatial perspectives in research and teaching, to broaden communication and cooperation across disciplines among faculty and graduate students, and to encourage the sharing of tools and concepts.

Please contact Werner Kuhn (805-893-8224, to review and schedule possible discussion topics or presentations that share your disciplinary interest in spatial thinking.

Follow spatial@ucsb on Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Google Calendar

Thinkspatial: Jeffrey Hoelle