A special issue on “Phyto-Communicability” will be coming out in the journal Ethnos soon. My contribution to the issue examines the communicative capacities of plants that are used to “keep bad vibes away” or ward off unwanted presences in the city of Iquitos (Peruvian Amazonia). You can read a pre-print version of the article here.
In July 2017, I visited Manaus to work on a new collaboration with researchers in the Sociology Department at the Federal University of Amazonas State (UFAM) and I also had the opportunity to give a talk based on my book Amazonia and the Anthropocene. Following that visit, I developed a lengthy email exchange over the better part of a year with Bruno Caporrino (a PhD student in the Dept. of Anthropology at UFAM) and Túlio Zille (a PhD student in Political Science at Johns Hopkins). Now, we are happy to share our dialogue (in Portuguese) in the new online magazine, Amazônia Latitude. The essay, titled “A virada ontológica e a Amazônia: um dialógo”, offers a summary of some of the key points of debate that have attracted our attention in the ontological turn in anthropology, particularly in relation to the ethnographic study of the Amazon region. A slightly edited version of our original email exchange (also in Portuguese) can be found here.
At this year’s AAA meeting, I’ll be presenting a paper on a panel titled “The Cultural Work of Aesthetics: Brazilian Notions of the Beautiful and the Crafting of Self/Other Dichotomies.” My paper will focus on the everyday aesthetics of the urban Amazon, with a series of sketches from the city of Manaus where I lived and conducted research for several years. I’ll present these sketches with accompanying photographs in a “show & tell” format to discuss how aesthetic forms in contemporary urban Amazonia challenge long-held tropes of the region in the ethnographic literature. In doing so, I also raise questions about underlying conventions and aesthetics in ethnographic representation itself. The panel will be Thursday, November 15th from 8:00-9:45 AM in the Executive Ballroom 210C in the San Jose Convention Center.
Gordon Ulmer, Sydney Silverstein, and I just published a short article (with lots of photos!) in the latest edition of Anthropology Today. It examines how projected environmental changes in the Amazonian city of Iquitos have been used by the Peruvian government to propose the resettlement of a low-income community and promote state-led redevelopment plans. The article is available free of charge over the next month. You can download it here.
Amazônica just published a short interview and photo essay that I helped develop with friends while living in Iquitos, Peru in 2016. Roldan (the first author) is an anthropology student at La Universidad Nacional de la Amazonía Peruana, and the essay captures his first trip home after living in Iquitos for a year and a half.
A few weeks ago, Nivedita Kar interviewed me for the New Books in Anthropology Podcast. The episode just went online yesterday. In our conversation, we discussed some of the overarching themes in my book Amazonia in the Anthropocene and also talked about some of my more recent work on urban Amazonian ecologies, including research based in the Peruvian city of Iquitos. The conversation is under a half hour and you can take a listen here.
In the latest of issue of Edible Columbus, you can find an interview with me discussing the importance of microbial life for soil health, the benefits of night soil for agricultural production, and the need for building local models that can help us to contend with global climate change. Thanks again to Colleen Leonardi for the invitation. You can read it here.
Ontem eu tive o grande prazer de dar uma palestra na Universidade Federal do Amazonas. Quero agradecer a Tiago Jacaúna e o Departamento de Sociologia por organizar o evento. Na palestra, titulada “Amazônia no antropoceno: Observações, questões e desafios”, eu resumi alguns argumentos principais do meu novo livro e também incluí umas observações sobre as “ecologias perturbantes” da Amazônia urbana baseado na pesquisa que eu fiz na cidade de Iquitos o ano passado. Eu fiz uma gravação da palestra e pode baixar o documento aqui também (por favor, descuplam quaisquer erros gramaticais). Obrigado novamente a todos que estiveram presentes.
While living in the Peruvian Amazon, I heard several stories about “el tunchi” — a spirit of the dead that has to pay penance in this world. The Tunchi is said to retrace the steps of its past life, disturbing the living by moving furniture, displacing objects, or producing eerie whistling sounds. For the forthcoming issue of Anthropology and Humanism, I wrote a short piece about a tunchi that harrassed an acquaintance named Sandra. You can read it here.