Entre predadores: relações com a natureza a propósito da reintrodução de lince-ibérico

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


The present study was concerned with the social perceptions, representations and appropriations of the large wild predators in Portugal with emphasis on the case of the reintroduction of the Iberian lynx.
A collection and analysis of representations demonstrated that the Iberian wolf possessed a high visibility, namely in Portuguese literature, in contrast to the discreet cultural presence of the Lynx throughout history from greek mythology to medieval medicine. These species, historically considered to be “vermin”, were also seen to have had an ambivalent and symbolic character to humans. They appear, in contemporary contexts, as emblems of nature conservation, being the target of innumerable appropriations. The Iberian lynx is a particular example of the process of objectification of nature, and also an element of a new construction of the rural community’s identity.
Ethnographic research was conducted since 2012 in two areas of Alentejo, including 94 semi-structured interviews with resident key actors, during which data were obtained on the memories, local ecological knowledge and practices around predators. Perceptions and values referring to the lynx, wild species and nature were analysed. The informants’ empirical categorizations revealed the Western dualistic model of nature identification, configuring humans and non-humans in separate domains, while elements of other ontologies and new tendencies in human-predator relations can also be identified. Associations of purity, beauty, natural, dominion and control are explored with reference to the idea of “wildness”. The expression “among predators”, also referring to humans as predators, summarizes an emic perspective on the natural world, a cosmological organization and a vision of non-human animals as mirrors also used to create personal and cultural identity.
Considering the foreseen Iberian lynx reintroduction in the south of Portugal, positions and opinions were analysed. Local contestation was explored as well as expectations of local actors towards coexistence with this wild species. The discourses, among contemporary debates in Anthropology, confirmed global neoliberalistic influences in local questions of nature conservation. On the other hand, local actors exhibit multiple orientations with respect to nature and wildlife, and consider non-economic factors upon the return of a threatened species. Emblematic wild species gather a moral consensus for their own protection. Local criticism concerning protected areas and projects indicated an imposed model of conservation in which a closer dialogue between actors and administration is needed. An ethnoecological scenario of coexistence between humans and predators is described. Appropriation of the species by local actors and their participation in matters of nature conservation are expected in near future.
This case study is an application of an ethnographic approach that yields a dense description of a nature conservation process and human/ non-human relationships. It stresses and exemplifies the role of Anthropology in an interdisciplinary project.
Original languagePortuguese
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade NOVA de Lisboa
  • Frazão-Moreira, Amélia, Supervisor
  • Queiroz, Ana Isabel , Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date19 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2018


  • Relations human/non-human
  • Social perceptions
  • Wild predator
  • Local knowledge
  • Nature conservation


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