Many justifications have been made for ‘saving the Amazon’ from preserving the ‘lungs of the world’ to protecting unknown botanical wonders that might yield cures to deadly diseases. However, Amazonians have responded to these claims with charges of ‘international covetousness’, interpreting such foreign interest as a thinly-masked desire to take control of the region’s natural resources. In this article I examine some of the counter-claims that have emerged in Brazil that reflect Amazonians’ uneasiness with such foreign interest in the region. Drawing from my own engagement with rural Amazonians, I share their critiques of the deep global inequalities that they see in conservation efforts and international research in Amazonia. To conclude, I discuss the value of ethnography and anthropological inquiry for encouraging grounded views of Amazonia that challenge abstracted notions of the region, including that of the monolithic rainforest in need of ‘saving’.
Published by nckawa
I'm a cultural and environmental anthropologist with interests in biodiversity management and smallholder agriculture in rural Amazonia. I've conducted research on agrobiodiversity management, anthropogenic soils, and community-based conservation. Currently, I'm also interested in the ways that farmers rely upon social networks, local ecological knowledge, and agrobiodiversity management to contend with the uncertainties of global climate change. View all posts by nckawa