In the way of soy: territorial tensions in Amazonian frontiers

Authors: Diana Aguiar*, Universidade Federal Do Rio De Janeiro
Topics: Latin America
Keywords: Amazon, frontier, soy, logistics, infrastructure
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 32
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


There is an ongoing process of spatial restructuring in Brazil due to the expansion of soy agricultural frontier in recent decades towards Central Brazil, and the radical shift in destination of soy exports towards China. This is leading to a process of redesign of soy trade routes towards North Atlantic ports – closer to Panama Canal and a faster route to China. This pressure for the production of logistics spaces is an understudied phenomenon with massive socio-spatial implications.
In between soybean plantation fields and North Atlantic ports is the Amazon. As a result, the accelerated “landing” of logistical infrastructure projects in Amazonian regions is leading to territorial tensions. The Tapajós sub-basin is the most dynamically expanding soy trade corridor in Brazil. By looking into this case, I seek to revisit the importance of territoriality and territory for indigenous relationship with land in the Amazon and the notion of “perennial frontier” to understand Amazonian situated historical globalization processes. In doing so, I recover the territorial history of the Tapajós region, that resulted in a mosaic of state recognized protected areas and indigenous territories, and the tensions that arise from the waves of multiple capitalist projects. In describing awkward engagements between indigenous peoples and others systematized from field work, I mobilize the notion of “friction” to claim that infrastructure does not land easily in frontier disputed territorialities; and that indigenous resistance consists of an obstacle to the logistical illusion of constant, stable and smooth flow of commodities through space.

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