Where the material and the symbolic intertwine: Making sense of the Amazon in the Anthropocene

Joana Castro Pereira, Maria Fernanda Gebara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Forests, and ways of relating to forests, are critical to the planet, yet largely neglected in IR. In this article, we engage with the debate on the Anthropocene and explore different forms of relationality to forests and Amazonian indigenous symbolism. Drawing mainly on political sociology, political ecology, and anthropology, we approach the Amazon basin as a site where nature, culture, resource extraction, and spirituality are enmeshed, and discuss material and symbolic meanings of the forest. The article starts by briefly reviewing discourses around the Anthropocene. It then looks at Amazonian countries with a specific focus on the classist foundations of socioecological exploitation that underpin anthropocentric attitudes and practices, and analyses the material way of perceiving the Amazon. It proceeds by addressing the diverse symbolism present in indigenous traditional knowledge; symbolism that may help in moving politics and society beyond the dominant attitudes that initiated the Anthropocene. Finally, the article offers possibilities for perceiving the forest differently and intertwining the Amazon's material and symbolic worlds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319 - 338
Number of pages20
JournalReview of International Studies
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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