“Urban Amazonian Show & Tell”

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Nicholas Kawa, Professor of Anthropology, The Ohio State University

April 2nd, 2020

ICC 219B3:30 PM – 5:00 PM

At times it feels like Amazonian scholars are destined to grapple with the same tired tropes and concerns that have dominated the region for the past 30 years: biodiversity loss, deforestation, illegal mining, timber extraction, rural livelihoods, and isolated indigeneity. Rather than continue down this well-established course, what if we started diverting our attention to other aspects of everyday Amazonia that typically escape scholarly concern? What if we began to ponder the meanings of the malls erected in Manaus or the lanchonetes (snack stands) that populate the cities of the interior? What if we began to collect a series of “object lessons” about the 21st century Amazon that could help us to shape new narratives and ways of seeing (and hearing and smelling) the region, not only for ourselves (as scholars), but also for those who have never come close to the region, except for what they have witnessed in television and film? This talk draws on ethnographic vignettes collected over the last decade of intermittent research in and around the city of Manaus with the intention of opening new ground for thinking about Amazonian ethnography and its objects, through particular attention to contemporary Amazonia’s monumental architecture, everyday aesthetics, and troubling Anthropocenic ecologies.