Mellon Forum | Over the Ruins of Amazonia

Wed, Nov 18, 2015, 12:00 pm

The Mellon Forum for Research on the Urban Environment welcomes Paulo Tavares (PLAS Visiting Scholar) for a presentation titled, Over the Ruins of Amazonia on conflict and climate change in the Amazon.

During the so-called “development decades” of the Cold War, the Earth’s systems experienced the exponential impact of what climate scientists call the Great Acceleration: “the most rapid transformation of the human relationship with the natural world in the history of humankind.” That transformation was accompanied by, and intrinsically related to, the enforcement of a generalized state-of-exception across the Third World, followed by widespread environmental destruction. This project traces the cartography of the modern-colonization of Amazonia, mapping the relations between the environmental and political violence that lay at the foundations of the contemporary Anthropocene, and which unfold to the geopolitical-geophysical conditions of climate change. Rather than the collateral, unintended effect of “growth,” “development,” or “progress,” global climate change is viewed here as the product of colonial violence directed against both human and non-humans, peoples and environments, societies and territories. With this perspective remote-sensing archaeological excavations of such forms of environmental violence in Amazonia unearth the history of a territory whose nature is deeply cultural, shaped, and reshaped by political conflicts.

This program is co-sponsored by the Program in Latin American Studies.


Paulo Tavares is an architect and urbanist in Quito and São Paulo. He has taught at the London Metropolitan University, at the Visual Cultures Lab/MA in Contemporary Art Theory at Goldsmiths, University of London and he currently teaches design and spatial theory in the School of Architecture, Design, and Arts at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador. His work explores architecture, media-based narratives, and writing as interconnected modalities for reading urban, territorial, and ecological conditions. His articles have appeared in many publications worldwide, including Nada (PT), Alfabeta2 and Abitare (IT), Cabinet (US), and Piseagrama (BR), and his work has been shown in Insert 2014 (New Delhi), Animism (Beirut, 2013), Taipei Biennial (2012), among other international exhibitions. With Ursula Biemann, he is the author of Forest Law / Selva Jurídica (2014).

Location: 
Aaron Burr 216