I began to work on this book a decade ago, and it has become the most
fulfi lling research project I have ever undertaken. In this book I tell what
I consider an important story about the interrelationship between native
people, resource managers, and the land. I am fortunate that colleagues,
family members, and others have helped me to study this topic. Th ey are
not liable for this book’s errors and omissions, but they are collectively
responsible for the fact that it exists at all.
Two colleagues in particular have lent encouragement and advice since I
rst began to contemplate writing a social history of Mexico’s forests. Th e
rst person I told about my intention to write a social history of Mexican
forests is the forestry expert and scholar David Bray. Within a week of that
conversation, a thick package containing dozens of articles, book chap-
ters, and news reports arrived in the mail. It was a daunting but welcome
introduction to the eld. His frequent admonitions to frame this project
in interdisciplinary terms have, I hope, made this a more capacious book.
Cynthia Radding, one of the foremost historians of Mexico, was teaching
at my sister institution in Urbana- Champaign when I rst arrived at the
University of Illinois at Chicago (uic). She welcomed me into the fold of
environmental history and has off ered valuable and generous support ever
since, all while encouraging me to foreground indigenous voices whenever
possible. It is a pleasure to thank them both.
Eric Van Young and Gil Joseph invited me to present my work early on
and encouraged me to pursue the project. Emilio Kourí and members of the
Latin American History workshop at the University of Chicago have twice
commented on draft sections of the book. My colleagues in Mexico have
been particularly generous with their time and attention. Martín Sánchez,
a longtime friend and colleague who is currently the president of El Colegio
de Michoacán, has provided encouragement and expertise again and again.
Others at the Colegio have also provided helpful advice, including Álvaro
Ochoa and Paul Liff man. My colleagues at the Universidad Michoacana
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