My Grandfather’s Castanhal: Plants, Community, Territory, and Memory in the Brazilian Amazon

Author(s): Anna Browne Ribeiro

Year: 2018


In contemporary Gurupá, a rural municipality in the Brazilian Amazon, life is largely shaped by movement of, and among, plants. Plants here are mobile, but spend most of their lives stationary. In this paper, I examine the relationship between people and plants – as living, but nonetheless spatially rooted elements of the landscape – in these agroextractivist communities. I explore the significance of planting and plant life in regulating territorial use and notions of rights, access, and possession, as well as social relations and family ties. Through trabalho de campo (field labor), both communal and solitary, Gurupaenses continually transform this forested landscape into a mosaic of greenery of varying sizes, shapes, shades, and meaning. The work of tending, weeding, cutting, and harvesting shapes gardens, dooryards, trails, and interstitial spaces, simultaneously configuring identities and social relationships within and beyond kinship groups. The present landscape is the result of generations of management of plants, as gardens, fields, stands, or trees – which are, importantly, individuated and associated with specific community members or families. These features regulate and communicate access to the spaces and fruits, literal and metaphorical, of trabalho de campo. Simultaneously, they materialize social relations, history, memory, and genealogy.

Cite this Record

My Grandfather’s Castanhal: Plants, Community, Territory, and Memory in the Brazilian Amazon. Anna Browne Ribeiro. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444861)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -76.289; min lat: -18.813 ; max long: -43.594; max lat: 8.494 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21704