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“Water Creatures”: Urbanization, Displacement and Developmental Paths in Amazonia

Adrián Lerner Patrón, Freie Universität Berlin

March 29, 2022 · 12:00 pm1:20 pm · Zoom

Program in Latin American Studies

Part V: Seminar on Indigeneity

Overcoming Amazonian nature and the ways of life associated with it has been a key aspect of the secular quest by regional, national, and transnational elites to “develop” the Amazon rainforest. The imposition of permanent built environments has been at the center of this project. It has often involved material and discursive assaults against indigenous peoples and other riverine communities, their customs, and their histories, which were invariably associated with waterways, the region’s dominant environmental features. In this presentation, Adrián Lerner focuses on a series of modernizing efforts by the military dictatorships in Brazil (1964-1985) and Peru (1968-1980) that targeted indigeneity and customary Amazonian livelihoods in Manaus, Brazil, and Iquitos, Peru, the largest cities in Upper Amazonia. A comparative approach to these governmental policies and their effects reveals that tropes of indigeneity could be politicized to different ends, and that the two authoritarian regimes ultimately set their Amazonian territories on divergent developmental paths.

Adrián Lerner Patrón teaches global history at the Free University of Berlin, where he is a Research Associate and Lecturer. Previously he was the Princeton Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Urbanism and the Environment. His current monograph, Jungle Cities: The Urbanization of Amazonia explores the parallel and divergent histories of Manaus (Brazil) and Iquitos (Peru), the crucial urban nodes of the Amazon rainforest.

Philipp Horn is a Senior Lecturer in Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield. He is the author of Indigenous Rights to the City: Ethnicity and Urban Planning in Bolivia and Ecuador (2019) and co-editor of Emerging Urban Spaces (2018).

Paula López Caballero is at the Centro de Investigaciones Interdisciplinarias en Ciencias y Humanidades (CEIICH) at UNAM in Mexico City. She is the author of Indígenas de la nación: etnografía histórica de la alteridad en México (Milpa Alta, siglos XVII-XXI) (2017) and the co-editor of Beyond Alterity: Destabilizing the Indigenous Other in Mexico (2018).

Tony Wood is a Postdoctoral Research Associate and Lecturer at the Program in Latin American Studies, Princeton.

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