Talk: Environmental Governance and the New Amazonian Frontier

Marianne Schmink and Jeffrey Hoelle

Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, 3-4 PM, Ellison Hall 4th floor conference room

Schmink and Woods‘ Contested Frontiers in Amazonia (1992) documented the complex social, environmental, and political consequences of the opening of the once remote municipality of São Felix do Xingu (SFX) to colonization beginning in the 1970s. In recent decades, population and standard of living have increased, violence and land conflict have decreased, but the future of SFX remains unsettled, as the heart of an expanding agricultural frontier with skyrocketing deforestation rates. In many ways, SFX is a municipality that is  emblematic of the challenges to sustainable development in the Amazon region. This presentation shares the findings of an interdisciplinary team that conducted research in SFX in the summer of 2014, with the aim of understanding the changing landscape and prospects for the future through the experiences and narratives of its residents. We employ a political ecology approach to outline key phases and mechanisms of socioenvironmental change and governance in SFX over the past three decades. We analyze the ways that a range of actors, including large scale ranchers, smallholders, and policymakers, view development and land use, and compare their responses to government interventions and their internalization of environmental concerns.  Sponsored by UCSB Latin American and Iberian Studies Program

This talk is based on research conducted in the summer of 2014 in the Eastern Amazon state of Pará, Brazil with Marianne Schmink, Charles H. Wood, Greg Thaler, and Carlos Valério Gomes.  The project, "São Felix do Xingu: A Municipality in Transformation," is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.