Urban planning professor Susanna Hecht of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs has been awarded the Elinor Melville Prize for the best book on Latin American environmental history.

“The Scramble for the Amazon and the Lost Paradise of Euclides da Cunha” (University of Chicago Press, 2013) outlines the plundering of natural resources from throughout the Amazon by imperial forces, and details the complex sociopolitical forces that have composed the history of this biodiverse region.

The Elinor Melville Prize is awarded by the Conference on Latin American History each year to the best book in English, French, Spanish or Portuguese on Latin American environmental history incorporating the study of the mutual influences of social and natural processes. Criteria include sound scholarship, grace of style and the importance of the scholarly contribution.

Hecht has made profound contributions to understanding of climate resiliency and deforestation within the Amazon basin, influencing adaptation and resilience strategies. Her research also focuses on indigenous knowledge systems within communities in the Amazon Basin, especially the contributions of women in maintaining traditional agricultural practices. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, NASA, the MacArthur Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Guggenheim Foundation and the Institute for Advanced studies, among many others.