Through lively, engaging narrative, "Understories" demonstrates how volatile politics of race, class, and nation animate the infamously violent struggles over forests in the U.S. Southwest. Rather than reproduce the traditional understanding of nature and environment, author Jake Kosek argues for a broader conception of material and symbolic 'natures', exploring how northern New Mexican forests have been shaped by conflicts over resources and identities involving not only Chicano activists, white environmentalists, and state officials but also nuclear scientists, heroin addicts, and health workers.Drawing on nearly two years of ethnographic fieldwork and extensive archival research, he shows how these contentious natures are integral not only to environmental politics but also to the formation of racialized citizens, politicized landscapes, and modern regimes of rule. Kosek traces the histories of forest extraction and labor exploitation in northern New Mexico, where Hispano residents have forged passionate attachments to place.He describes how their sentiments of dispossession emerged through land tenure systems and federal management programs that remade forest landscapes as exclusionary sites of national and racial purity. Fusing fine-grained ethnography with insights gleaned from cultural studies and science studies, Kosek shows how the nationally beloved Smokey the Bear became a symbol of white racist colonialism for many Hispanos in the region, while Los Alamos National Laboratory, at once revered and reviled, remade regional ecologies and economies. "Understories" offers an innovative vision of environmental politics, one that challenges scholars as well as activists to radically rework their understandings of relations between nature, justice, and identity.