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Title: A Turn to Amazonia: Experimental Art, Indigeneity, and the Rise of Political Ecology in Brazil
Authors: Miguel Bedran, Marina
Advisors: Price, Rachel L.
Meira Monteiro, Pedro
Contributors: Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures Department
Keywords: Amazonia
Brazilian Cinema
Brazilian Experimental Art
Political Ecology
Subjects: Latin American studies
Art history
Comparative literature
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The history of twentieth-century Brazil is studded with projects of modernization in both politics and culture. This dissertation demonstrates how artists, writers, and filmmakers staked out a critique of these modernization projects by turning to Amazonia. Beginning in the postwar period, most intellectuals, artists, and writers embraced modernizing principles centered on urban and industrial imaginaries, often in ways that reproduced the government’s rhetoric of political and economic progress and development. During the 1964–85 military dictatorship, development increasingly involved bringing economic investment into Amazonia, supported by state-planned colonization of the region and infrastructure projects, especially road construction. Yet despite the centrality of the region in the country’s economic and political life and even in the global imaginary, Amazonia was largely absent from Brazilian cultural production between the 1950s and the 1980s. I address this discrepancy by attending to the alternatives to the imaginary of development that emerged within the incipient field of political ecology and in indigenous activism, two spheres for which the Amazon played an important role—and to the art, writing, and films that drew on these ideas. I discuss a series of case studies of multimedia that deviate from the period’s celebration of modernity and development, recuperating works that engage with Amazonia. These works are either marginal in the modern archive, such as Flávio de Carvalho’s 1958 Experiência n. 4, or lesser-known works by canonical contemporary artists such as Cildo Meireles and Lygia Pape. I argue that these works, which have been overshadowed by an obsession with modernity that engulfed both artists and cultural critics, open up a different set of questions concerning the environment, indigeneity, and temporality, and anticipate more recent reevaluations of modernity and cultural engagement with Amazonia in anthropology, archeology, history, and literary and cultural studies. A Turn to Amazonia: Experimental Art, Indigeneity, and the Rise of Political Ecology in Brazil looks back to a period that was fundamental in shaping both the ecology and the image of today’s Amazonia. The cultural production I analyze, dating from the mid-twentieth century through the early 1980s, demonstrates how artists turned to Amazonia as a creative resource that would inspire aesthetic experiments and alternatives to the imaginary of development.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures

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