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Amazonian Semiospheres, Ecological Wisdom and the Nature of Human Culture (completed)

The project examines visual and verbal topoi and imagery relating to Amazonian rainforest Indians, and how they circulate between different discourses and disciplines.

About the Project

This project examines visual and verbal topoi and imagery relating to Amazonian rainforest Indians, and how they circulate between different discourses and disciplines (anthropology, cultural theory, and environmentalism and human rights concerns). In particular, emphasis is put upon how popular culture mediates between these discourses, and how certain aspects of this topology has a long historical durée: The Tupi and Guaraní served European thought as “empirical” examples of “natural cultures” already in early moderns times, since they were construed as a cultures without “superstition”, e.g. without erroneous conceptions about religious and natural causes.

Along another line of inquiry, I examine how images of “indigenous culture” and “the ecological Indian” furnishes a political and rhetorical resource in disputes concerning land and rights. In particular, emphasis is her put on how notions of “culture” and “cultural heritage”, as translated semantic categories, are put pragmatically to work in claims for rights.  Here I seek to explore an apparent paradox; that such “culturalist” rhetoric comes from cultures that salient strands of recent cultural theory has claimed do not hold the nature-culture distinction, and because of this “lack” have been posited as models for a “new” multi-naturalism to supplant Western multi-culturalism in an age of climate change. 

Published June 20, 2014 1:20 PM - Last modified Feb. 1, 2017 2:57 PM