- 1 – Yet the Amazon enthralls us through more than its physical wonders. Its power is a social product, forged by people and institutions that have made material and symbolic investments in the region.
- This book examines an array of mediators in Brazil and the United States that delineated the nature of the Amazon during the twentieth century. Focused on the era of the Second World War, this study explores how conflicts raging within and over the Brazilian Amazon came to shape landscapes and lifeways in the region. It offers an analysis of the political and environmental history of the Brazilian Amazon as much as a reflection on shifting cultural representations of its nature.
- 2 – During the twentieth century, the Amazon came to be summoned by a large number and range of contestants in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.4 The expansion of state power, population growth, and rising demand for raw materials redefined notions of economic need and national security. Industrialization fueled the expansion of cities and mass markets, while new technologies fired urban elites’ faith in the capacity to vanquish space, distance, and time.
- As a hinterland, the Amazon challenged the competence of the Brazilian state to achieve governability and national integration. As a borderland, it crystallized geopolitical concerns with territorial defense. As a resource-rich land, the Amazon became increasingly entwined with patterns of capital investment in Brazil and trends in global consumption. As a promised land, it beckoned economic migrants, drought refugees, and adventurers. As a homeland, Amazonian landscapes comprised sites of concerted human intervention, founts of historical reference and environmental knowledge, and loci of conflicts over resources and power.5 As a tropical lowland, the Amazon was marked as much by distinct ecosystems as invidious canards about race, place, and national character.
- 3 – This book approaches the field of political ecology in the Amazon as a study in conflicts over the use, rights, and definition of territory and resources among distinct social groups.8 While recognizing the fundamental material basis to such struggles, the book also explores the symbolic and affective relationships that groups maintain with the biophysical environment.9 Building on the concept of a “commodity ecumene,” which anthropologist Arjun Appadurai defines as the “transcultural network of relationships linking producers, distributors, and consumers of a particular commodity or set of commodities,” this study highlights how landscapes, politics, and things are constituted through such flows, processes, and interconnections.
- 4 – Peripheral to the eastern slaveplantations that propelled colonial integration into Atlantic markets and to the import-substitution industrialization that fuelled economic growth in twentieth-century Brazil, the Amazon seemingly confounds the grand narratives of empire and the nation-state—the muses of History.
- Rather than an integrated analysis of the multiple networks and processes that mutually construct natures and societies, however, much of the existing scholarship on the Amazon has tended to depart from and isolate such poles.
Chapter 4 - The Environment of Northeastern Migration to the Amazon: Landscapes, Labor, and Love
- 128 – This chapter situates wartime relocation from the northeast to the Amazon in the political economies, microsocial networks, and interlocking histories of these regions rather than in the realms of dictatorial treachery and peasant gullibility.
- 220 – More broadly, we might argue, science has redefined the nature of the Amazon through new kinds of knowledge claims.
- 226-27 – Amidst aggressive postwar frontier expansion, the rebirth of the Brazilian Amazon as global ecological sanctum was midwifed by political realignments, scientific and technological advances, and newly minted cultural vocabularies and values. Amazonian resources and populations have been age-old contributors to global development and scientific knowledge, as well as icons of Brazilian nationalism, but shifting material demands and symbolic meanings served to reinvent the rain forest in (inter)national politics.
- 228 – Conjured by outsiders as a pristine realm, Amazonian landscapes have been embedded in social and (geo)political conflicts since the Iberian conquest. Bounded by maps and academic disciplines, the Brazilian Amazon has been molded by competing and far-flung networks of peoples, goods, and ideas. Indeed, because the Amazon encompasses not only distinct tropical ecosystems, but fundamental debates about the meanings of modernity, the nature of the region will stir controversy for time to come.