Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Geography and Anthropology

First Advisor

Miles Richardson


This dissertation is a regional geography of the department of Olancho in northeastern Honduras. It focuses on the enredos (entangled situations) that characterize geographic reality, particularly in the interlocked domains of nation-state priorities, local identities, rain forest conservation, and sustainable development. The overarching theoretical framework of this dissertation is the collaborative work of complexity theorists Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. The major theme running through "Mapping Enredos" is the multidimensional nature of spatiality (complex spaces), ground for human and non-human existence as well as source of endless conflicts. Fieldwork was undertaken from 1999 to 2000. Qualitative research methods employed include participant observation, oral history compilation, and archival interpretation. The dissertation is written ethnographically, using primarily phenomenology and post-structural philosophy as theoretical guidelines. Olancho's prehistory is mapped in terms of its non-Mesoamerican village-scale geography. The historical geography of Olancho, beginning in 1526, is constructed from primary archival sources, and focuses on the creation and rise of different spatial identities that made Olancho an autochthonous region at the margins of Western jurisdictional space. The natural history of Olancho is described through the separate consideration of different spaces and landscapes, with an eye toward unraveling the complexity that characterizes the region's geomorphology and biodiversity. The histories lead into a cultural geography of contemporary Olancho through the understanding of its inhabitants---what in this work is called "local space." These include events of everyday life, the gaze, the body, place, landscape, and the "enchanted" qualities of natural features, plants, and animals that emerge in folklore. From this base, conflictive identities involving land use are described---including development, religion, the state, coffee growing, cattle ranching, farming, logging, hunting, gathering, contraband, and gold-mining, among others. Using these "maps," this dissertation ends by explicating the spatial conflicts and alliances that characterize buffer zone conservation and sustainable development in and around the Monumento Natural El Boqueron and the Parque Nacional Sierra de Agalta. It concludes that spatial complexity is multidimensional, fluid, and irrepressible. In terms of development, conservation, and the nation-state, complex spaces are in different instances both supportive and disruptive.