Race, Religion, and Magico-Medicinal Plant Use in Rural Amazonia

This Friday I’ll be giving a talk at the American Anthropological Association meeting in a session titled Humans, Plants, and Race: Investigations into Cultivation, Discrimination, and Identity. My paper will focus on the relationships between race, religion, and magico-medicinal plants in rural Amazonia. Here’s the abstract:

In home gardens across rural Amazonia, it is common to find plants that are cultivated for their magical and healing properties. Some plants have long histories linked to indigenous traditions while others are derived from Afro-Brazilian religions, especially Candomblé. Despite widespread occurrence of such plants, many rural Amazonians are reluctant to acknowledge them and some, especially in Evangelical communities, openly criticize their use as incongruent with Christian belief and practice. In examining the use of such plants, this paper highlights the growing tensions in rural Amazonian communities between the competing belief systems of Evangelical Christianity and Amazonian Folk Catholicism, which borrows from Afro-Brazilian Candomblé. In doing so, it explores how the movement away from Folk Catholicism and Candomblé by some Amazonians can be seen as part of a broader attempt to establish distance from “blackness” and “Indianness” and their histories of marginalization in Brazil.

New Issue of HAU with Essays on “How Forests Think”

HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory has just released a new issue. It includes a collection of essays by Marisol de la Cadena, Philippe Descola, and Bruno Latour (among others), that engage and respond to Eduardo Kohn’s recent book How Forests Think (Univ. of California Press, 2013). Kohn also offers a response of his own, titled “Further thoughts on sylvan thinking.” The entire collection is worth a read.

Must the Anthropocene be a “Manthropocene”?

Kate Raworth wrote a piece for the Guardian that calls attention to the extreme gender bias of the Anthropocene Working Group, which recently convened in Berlin. In the article, she provides a useful map that illustrates both the gender and country of origin of those who make up the group – the vast majority are men residing in Europe and Eastern North America.