Amazon of Rights

Understanding Ecocentric Normativity and its Social Realities through Visual Ethnography

The project investigates how ecocentric normativity interacts with social realities in an important ecosystem of planetary relevance, namely the Amazon river system, using comparative law and visual ethnographic practice, especially documentary film, as a method of socio-legal research. Over the past decade, a growing literature has hailed rights of nature as a new ecocentric legal paradigm, rooted in indigenous cosmologies and suited to address global environmental crises. However, local differences in normative understandings and the actual social practices associated with rights of nature are less well understood. The project thus traces the legal status of the Amazon river as a subject and object of rights across jurisdictional boundaries, inquiring how ecocentric normativity shapes, and is shaped by, social practices and legal imaginations of local communities, indigenous peoples, activists and legal practitioners. The project will form an international and transdisciplinary collaborative network  that brings together legal scholars, political scientists, legal anthropologists as well as ethnographic filmmakers and local stakeholders from the Amazon region. The collaborators will address the research questions through a combination of desktop legal research, joint workshops, as well as ethnographic fieldwork, documentary film and semi-structured interviews with activists, indigenous leaders and academics in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Brazil.

Applicants: Michael Riegner, Erfurt University; M. Cecilia Oliveira, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies Potsdam; Luis Eslava, Kent University

Michael Riegner is Principal Investigator in the project, toegether with Cecilia Oliveira at RIFS Potsdam and Luis Eslava at Kent and La Trobe University.