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.
Last week, the OSU Undergraduate Anthropology Club invited Lee Hoffer, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Case Western Reserve University, to give a guest lecture on the opioid epidemic. Lee has been studying opioid use and markets ethnographically for over two decades and had lots of great insights to share. You can hear more about his work in this interview conducted by two of our undergraduate anthropology majors.
University of Texas Press just posted a short interview with me about my new book Amazonia in the Anthropocene: People, Soils, Plants, Forests, which was published this month. The interview touches on recent debates over the origins of the Anthropocene as well as my critiques of its current conceptualization. It also discusses some of the problems with the dominant portrayals of Amazonia and its people that circulate outside of the region. UT Press will be promoting the book at the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) in New York City this week.
For the past year, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a short book about the urban Amazon. Most of what is written about Amazonia is focused on its forests and rivers, its flora and fauna. When people are discussed, most often it’s indigenous groups living in isolated reaches of the region, or those who are fighting against bulldozers and dams that threaten their livelihoods and even their very lives. I don’t want to detract from any of those struggles. They might matter now more than ever. But today, it’s usually overlooked that the bulk of Amazonians live in cities, and little of the media coverage that circulates outside of the region is focused on their lives.
Here I offer a brief introduction to the urban Amazon, and more specifically, the Amazonian city of Manaus:
A short essay of mine was just published in Engagement, the blog of the Anthropology and Environment Society. The piece examines the story of Cobra Grande, a massive snake of Amazonian folklore that is implicated in the region’s ever-shifting hydrological landscape. I argue that Cobra Grande is more than just a quaint folk tale, but rather a central Amazonian metaphor that reminds that our surroundings are in constant flux, and that humans are not the only ones responsible for this ongoing transformation.
HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory has just released a new issue. It includes a collection of essays by Marisol de la Cadena, Philippe Descola, and Bruno Latour (among others), that engage and respond to Eduardo Kohn’s recent book How Forests Think (Univ. of California Press, 2013). Kohn also offers a response of his own, titled “Further thoughts on sylvan thinking.” The entire collection is worth a read.