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October 1999 Issue
The Geographical Review
October 1999, Vol. 89 (4), pp. 554-579
A PLACE UNBECOMING: THE COFFEE FARM OF NORTHERN LATIN AMERICA
ROBERT A. RICE
Keywords: biodiversity, coffee, landscape, Latin America, place, shade.
This article examines recent transformations of the coffee landscape of northern Latin America through the optic of "place as process." As coffee became the most important regional export crop, its "place" evolved. Coffee lands in northern Latin America now embrace 3.1 million hectares, often contiguous across international borders. Like many agricultural systems, coffee has succumbed to intensification, a process termed "technification" in the Latin American setting. The result is a landscape mosaic in which a traditional agroforest coffee system coexists with coffee lands transformed by modernization. The institutional forces behind this process, as well as some of its social and ecological consequences, are discussed.