Perspectives on extraction: ontological war and peace in Amazonia
(University of Sussex)
Paper short abstract:
Drawing on research with both indigenous people and academic and policy workers this paper examines understandings of natural resource extraction, forest conservation and climate change mitigation strategies in contemporary Amazonia.
Paper long abstract:
Drawing on research with both indigenous people and academic and policy workers this paper examines understandings of natural resource extraction, forest conservation and climate change mitigation strategies in contemporary Amazonia. It begins by considering both indigenous conceptions of and physical interactions with the environment. Through this focus the paper interrogates local ontologies and what they may or may not suggest about indigenous notions of forest use and conservation. It also considers anthropologists' own role in emphasising such distinctions, noting how recent emphases on ontological difference have tended to parallel an older exoticisation and reification of indigenous cultures. The paper argues that such approaches can act to obscure and undermine some of the more practical and pragmatic approaches of indigenous groups to their environments as well as their interactions with other groups. In its second half the paper introduces a similar analysis of contemporary, non-indigenous notions of climate change and climate-change mitigation policies, examining both their practical outcomes as well as their ontological underpinnings. Here the focus is specifically on the UN backed REDD+ initiative, noting how within this framework the rainforest and its people are reified as saviours of modernity's ills but only within a particular economic and legal framework in which carbon can be understood as the region's latest extractive commodity. Through this analysis of emic and etic approaches to the Amazonian environment the paper seeks to consider the opportunities and limitations of current engagements with the region's resources and consider possible ways forward.
Thinking otherwise at the extractive frontier: conflict, negotiation, translation, and a more equitable conversation