The Right to Your Duties: Interpersonal Responsibilities in Riverside Amazonia


Wednesday, March 3, 2021, 12:00pm to 1:00pm

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Speaker: Vinicius Furuie, Environmental Fellow, Harvard University Center for the Environment
Discussants: Mauro Almeida, Professor of Anthropology, UNICAMP; Natalie Unterstell, Director, Talanoa Think Tank
Moderator: Bruno Carvalho, Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and African and African American Studies

The riverside people of the Brazilian Amazon are under threat of land grabbing and eviction from their lands, despite safeguarding the largest remaining rainforest in the world. The fight to guarantee basic rights for the peoples of the forest is a tool against deforestation as well as a moral imperative. Support for the struggle against invaders brings into sharp relief differences in how riverside people conceive of rights and responsibilities and how the juridical discourse represents them. This talk will move through some of these differences, particularly in relation to the case of riverside populations affected by the construction of the Belo Monte dam in the Brazilian state of Pará, to argue for action that can bridge concepts and strengthen local autonomy.

Vinicius de Aguiar Furuie is an anthropologist researching Amazonian river trade among riverside populations affected by climate change and large-scale infrastructure projects. Vinicius earned a BA in journalism from the University of Sao Paulo and an MA in cultural studies from the University of Tokyo, where he wrote an ethnography on post-Fukushima antinuclear social movements. He received a PhD in sociocultural anthropology from Princeton University with a dissertation based on 20 months of fieldwork conducted with "regatão" river traders of the Xingu basin, in the eastern Brazilian Amazon. His fieldwork was based in Altamira, the main site of recently built Belo Monte dam and a current hotspot of logging and forest fires. He studies local understanding of economic morality in communities that exchange non-timber forest products such as Brazil nuts, rubber, and medicinal oils for industrial goods.

Presented in collaboration with Harvard University Center for the Environment