WORLD ANTHROPOLOGICAL UNION

CONGRESS 2024​

SELECTED PANEL

( pn12 )

Environmental crisis, disasters, and territorial claims: the role of anthropology with traditional communities in reimagining worlds

Organizers

    Angela Maria de Souza

    Brazil

    UNILA - Universidade Federal da Integração Latino Americana

    Face to Face/ On Site - Presence

    Jade Alcântara Lôbo

    Brazil

    Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina

    Face to Face/ On Site - Presence

    Nathalia Dothling Reis

    Brazil

    University of Queensland

    Face to Face/ On Site - Presence

IUAES Affiliation: Anthropology and the Environment

Keywords:

Environmental crisis; Traditional people; Territorial claim; Anthropocene; Pluriverse.

Abstract:

Scholars studying the Anthropocene, like Crutzen and Stoermer (2000), assert that human activities have played a crucial role in shaping a new geological era. Western institutions are warning of the impending end of the world due to environmental crises and climate change, with events such as floods, fires, and mining disasters serving as manifestations of these threats. However, the concept of the pluriverse, as discussed by Escobar (2015), de la Cadena, and Blaser (2018), along with anthropological environmental studies, suggests that there may be multiple worlds and diverse forms of Anthropos impacting and being impacted by colonialism. This raises questions about whose world is truly ending and who is accountable for this potential demise. Todd (2015) challenges us to identify which humans and human systems are responsible for the environmental changes attributed to the Anthropocene. Critics of the Anthropocene argue that it is not all humans but specific human activities and mindsets that are contributing to the destruction of the "world." De la Cadena (2018) emphasizes that extractivism, particularly in colonized regions, is the manifestation of the Anthropocene, with local communities representing a resistant Anthropos coexisting with humans and other-than-humans. Ferdinand (2022) contends that colonialism and racism lie at the core of the planet's ecological destruction. Guzmán-Gallegos and Leifsen (2021) highlight diverse anthropological perspectives linking environmental crises to colonialism and capitalism, framing them as threats to life on Earth. Ecological conflicts are not evenly distributed globally, as Martinez-Alier (2003) outlines, and extractivism disproportionately impacts poor, Indigenous, and traditional communities, leading to what is termed environmental racism (Benjamin Chavis in Meneghini 2011 and Voyles 2015) or necropolitics (Mbembe 2003). Territorial disputes over traditional lands illustrate the vested interests in extractive operations and signify struggles for wisdom and counter-colonial (Bispo dos Santos 2015) practices. Black, Quilombola, and Indigenous thinkers (Bispo dos Santos 2015, Krenak 2015, 2019, Ferdinand 2022) argue that traditional practices embedded in sustainable principles of environmental relationships are often overlooked in proposed solutions to the current environmental crisis. This panel seeks to explore ethnographic cases where anthropologists collaborate with Indigenous and traditional communities to understand their environmental practices amid territorial claims, ecological disasters, and environmental conflicts. Through a decolonial perspective, anthropologists aim to amplify traditional voices, knowledge, and practices, contributing to the reimagining of alternative worlds.