There Are Words and Worlds That Are Truthful and True


There Are Words and Worlds That Are Truthful and True

The artist and designer Luiza Prado de O. Martin was the recipient of the transmediale Vilém Flusser Residency Program for Artistic Research in 2019. With her project Councils of the Pluriversal she set out to work across local communities in Brazil and Berlin, addressing the oppressive politics of scarcity within the global response to climate change and how this impacts marginalized groups. In this contribution, whose title quotes Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatista movement, Prado’s call for pluriversal practices of care seems especially relevant and challenging in these post-pandemic times. Not the scarcity and “death cult” impeded by the biopolitical control of capitalism could be our central concern, but this idea of a stable center could be decolonized and destabilized by the ongoing practices of many worlds that already coexist alongside each other: “other worlds where abundance—of time, generosity, affection, patience—is possible."


A Red Path, A Black Sky

On August 23, 2019, an accident took place in the Rodovia Presidente Dutra, one of Rio de Janeiro’s most important federal highways. In a section that cuts through the suburban municipality of Nova Iguaçu, a cargo truck carrying pesticide was hit by another vehicle. Vats rolled out of the truck, spilling their contents all along the highway, a bright pinkish-red liquid, dragged along the pavement by the wheels of other cars for hundreds of meters. The highway was temporarily closed as the liquid, considered harmful to humans, was cleaned up. RJTV, the region’s most popular midday news program, aired footage of workers in hazmat suits shoveling the dried remains of the substance into large white bags under the cheerful headline ‘Colorful Dutra’1. The exact nature of the pesticide, as well as the name of the company or companies responsible for its manufacturing and transportation, went unmentioned. The ensuing traffic jams slowed the flow of vehicles from city center to periphery for kilometers.

Four days earlier, around 3 p.m. on August 19, 2019, day abruptly turned into darkness in São Paulo. The skies above the metropolis, so often obscured by rainy clouds, acquired an unusual, black-brown hue; a sooty curtain falling prematurely over the city’s bewildered inhabitants. Later that afternoon, the thick clouds finally released their cargo—a deep black rain, heavy with the unexpected scent of smoke.2 The reason for this dark rain did not take much guessing: the fires devouring the Amazon rainforest along Brazil’s northernmost states had been in the news for a while. This was just one repercussion, finally reaching the country’s largest and wealthiest city, pushed by a cold wind. São Paulo’s Tietê River—once a clean, living body of water—had long ago been reduced to a sludgy, foul-smelling mass; now it was the turn of the skies to fall.

Rainforests don’t burn spontaneously; they must be intentionally set on fire. In July 2019, INPE (Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research) reported an 88 percent increase in wildfires in the Amazon basin, compared to the same time frame in the previous year.3 For centuries before this summer, forests had covered a great portion of the tropical areas of South America. The fires that preceded the black rain, the premature nightfall, and the spillage of pesticides had, in truth, been consuming everything in their path since European ships first arrived on the shores of the continent. These events were part of an old tragedy, a long-festering wound. To consume, to devour until nothing is left—these practices are interwoven throughout the history of coloniality into the present, from the foodstuffs taken from the Americas to be served to eager Europeans, to the voracious consumption of living black and brown bodies at the table of colonial economy, to the ravenous devouring of the Earth itself in the quest for endless economic growth. Avidity, in short, which leads inevitably to destruction; rapacity, which hinges on a vastly unequal distribution of the conditions necessary for well-being.

It is this hunger that underscores the rhetoric of exploitation of human and nonhuman beings at the root of the current climate crisis; a hunger that classifies not only forests, valleys, lakes, and seas, but also some people, as ‘resources’. In his book Ideias para adiar o fim do mundo (Ideas to Postpone the End of the World), Indigenous writer and activist Ailton Krenak remarks that ‘[w]hen we remove the personhood from the river, the mountain, when we remove their senses, thinking that this is an exclusively human attribute, we allow these places to become residues of extractivist industrial activity.’4 He points out: ‘If there is an eagerness to consume nature, there is also one to consume subjectivities—our subjectivities.’5 While some continue to devour, consuming with ferocious greed, others are starved by scarcity.

This is, of course, a produced scarcity, constructed through a mechanism that negates the personhood of some subjects, human and nonhuman, to classify them as exploitable resources and consume them indiscriminately in the name of Western and capitalist notions of development. As soon as the human bodies exploited within this cycle cease to work in its favor, perhaps due to disease, hunger, conflict, or death; as soon as the material repercussions of this process emerge (food shortages, water contamination, an increase in global temperature, natural disasters), scarcity is declared. There is now not enough food and water for all; there are not enough natural resources to sustain so many living, breathing human bodies. Krenak asks, pointedly: ‘Natural resources for whom? Sustainable development for what? What is there to sustain?’6 The foundations of coloniality and capitalism have always hinged on this construction of scarcity: in order for wealth to exist, so too must poverty. In order for some to live, some must die. In order for some to be satisfied, others must be eaten. Although produced through a complex network of power relations, scarcity has become a defining, tangible circumstance in the lives of those on the margins of a world still scarred by colonial wounds; a world where the sky blackens and falls, and paths are painted toxic red. The imagined isn’t imaginary.

There Is No Room

The narrative of scarcity needs a corresponding one—that of excess, directed at those whose bodies and lives are framed as exploitable resources in the quest for the accumulation of wealth through endless economic growth. The people for whom food, water, land, shelter, care, affection, and dignity will not be afforded. On July 11, 2017, BBC host Victoria Derbyshire interviewed philanthropist Melinda Gates and the United Kingdom Secretary of State for International Development at the time, Priti Patel, on her #VictoriaLIVE segment. The topic of discussion was birth control, particularly the initiatives led in the Global South by the Gates Foundation (co-chaired by the philanthropist and Patel’s husband) and the UK government.

Birth control, Gates and Patel stressed, is a pivotal issue for fighting poverty in the Global South, for it allows women in these regions to continue their education, contribute to the local economy, and better provide for smaller, planned families. The programs initiated by the Gates Foundation are necessary, Gates argued, in order to address the conditions brought about by a ‘population bulge’ that has, in her words, caused the ‘biggest population of adolescents we’ve ever had in the history of the Earth’ to be currently ‘coming through the developing world.’ If denied access to birth control, this population will be condemned to a ‘life of destitute poverty’, she continued, whereas ‘if you can offer a girl contraceptives, she will stay in school.’ Patel additionally asserted that population growth in the ‘developing world’ doesn’t only have a negative impact on local economies, it also puts undue pressure on the United Kingdom’s resources and, more importantly, leads to increases in the flow of migrants to the country.7

The rhetoric employed by Gates and Patel, which positions poverty and scarcity as a direct result of population growth, dates back centuries. In 1798, British scholar Thomas Malthus published An Essay on the Principles of Population. In it, he argues that the while a nation’s ability to produce food could increase arithmetically, its populace would grow exponentially, leading to a destructive cycle that would culminate in what is known as a Malthusian catastrophe. He writes:

The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world.8

Though not the first to propose these ideas, Malthus remains their most famous advocate. Anthropologist Eric Ross notes that Malthusian theories have been fundamental ‘to provide an enduring argument for the prevention of social and economic change and to obscure, in both academic and popular thinking, the real roots of poverty, inequality and environmental deterioration.’9 Through the Malthusian lens, scarcity is not an inevitable—and desired—outcome of capitalist systems, but rather a result of the actions and choices of the poor.10 Since Malthus’s initial formulation, his arguments have been periodically revisited and recycled by academics and activists alike, from Paul Ehrlich (one of the first biologists to blame environmental collapse on overpopulation11) to Margaret Sanger, whose crusade for the right to birth control in the early 20th century was animated by the perception that many of the problems that afflicted poor women were results of unregulated fertility. 12

Scholars Kalpana Wilson and Laura Briggs stress, however, that population control policies implemented in the Global South, which are underscored by Neo-Malthusian beliefs and advanced with the financial and political incentives of Northern nations, need to be understood as continuations of the colonial/imperial project, in that they pathologize the sex and reproduction of colonial subjects for the benefit of colonizers.13 Interventions on the fertility and sexuality of colonial subjects are thus framed as necessary and beneficial. In the rhetoric of humanitarian aid presented by Patel and Gates, they are described as strategies for the empowerment of women and girls, devised to effectively introduce this demographic into the (low-paid) workforce of the Global South. Although both interviewees specifically used the designation ‘developing countries’ to politically and geographically position the subjects of the policies and programs they discuss, this designation obfuscates the complexity and diversity of the colonial subjects whose sexualities and fertilities are matters of such scrutiny. As a result, this designation also obscures the ways in which population control policies have been fundamental for the preservation of colonial racial hierarchies in the United States, as has been thoroughly documented and discussed by scholars such as Dorothy Roberts14, Angela Davis,15 Elena Gutiérrez,16 and Anne Hendrixson.17 Patel’s argument, in particular, aligns itself with the discourse associating population growth in the Global South with threats to national identity and security, identified by Hendrixson as a fundamental rationale behind US—and, I would expand, Western—military interventionism in the Middle East, and the surveillance of Muslims and Arabs circulating within US and European borders.

The works of Wilson and Briggs focus primarily on how organizations and institutions based in the US or Europe promote these policies in the Global South; a similar racist logic, however, also governs healthcare initiatives deployed by many institutions and organizations within the Global South, directed at locally marginalized communities. The systematic, nonconsensual, mass sterilization of Indigenous peoples in Peru during the regime of dictator Alberto Fujimori in the 1990s is one such instance.18 In Brazil, anthropologist Emilia Sanabria documented the widespread and coercive administration of the birth-control shot Depo-Provera to low-income women who resort to government-funded family planning services in the city of Salvador.19 Current Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has long publicly supported many of Fujimori’s ideas, defending strict population control policies aimed at the country’s poorest as a way to ‘control criminality and poverty.’20 Bolsonaro’s rhetoric is far from unique: historically, population control policies have been presented in Brazil as carrying positive economic implications for the general population,21 a strategy to ward off the impending threat of scarcity.

Further complicating this scenario, as conversations on the climate crisis and its current and future impacts gain more prominence, concerns over possible connections between overpopulation, the increase of global temperatures, and fears of widespread scarcity have been placed once again in the spotlight—to the point that acts of white supremacist violence have been animated by the fear of a looming climactic disaster triggered by the presence of brown and black people within the borders of Western nations.22 The idea of bodies in excessive abundance is inseparable from the colonial structures that have long sought to classify humans into hierarchical categories. Rhetoric becomes fear becomes policy becomes violence becomes rhetoric; a process woven into the everyday lives of those who, although they ‘hold on to this Earth, are those who are forgotten along the borders of the planet, the margins of rivers, the shores of oceans, in Africa, in Asia, or in Latin America.’23 Though critical of the ‘population bomb’ rhetoric, in her contribution to the book Making Kin Not Population, Donna Haraway circles around the discourse of scarcity related to the climate crisis, arguing that: Food production is a major contributor to climate change and the extinction crisis, with, as usual, those humans and nonhumans benefitting most suffering the least dire impacts. The super-peopling of the earth with both humans and industrial and pathogenic nonhumans is a worlding practice premised on the commitment to endless growth and vastly unequal well-being.24

Although in this passage Haraway does leave room for a critique that focuses on the systems and networks that construct scarcity within capitalism, she later recants this line, writing that ‘blaming Capitalism, Imperialism, Neoliberalism, Modernization, or some other “not us” for ongoing destruction webbed with human numbers will not work.’25 Additionally, she maintains that ‘anti-racist feminist avoidance of thinking and acting in public about the pressing urgencies of human and nonhuman global populations is akin to the denial of anthropogenic climate change by some deeply believing US Christians’,26 and goes so far as to ‘only half-jokingly call for a sliding scale approach to global reduction of human numbers.’27 Under this system, she suggests, those willing to birth a human baby would need to collect tokens from other prospective parents; the number of necessary tokens would vary according to the parents’ cultural, economic, racial, and ethnic background. Haraway’s argument fails to consider that not all humans relate to the Earth in the same way; while she does admit that those living in so-called developed Western societies might impact the planet differently from people living in other societal organizations, this admission does not make its way into the core logic of her argument. Let us return again to Krenak, who remarks:

If we imprinted upon the planet Earth a mark so heavy that it characterizes an era, which may remain even after we are no longer here, because we are exhausting the sources of life that allow us to prosper and feel that we are home […] it is because we are again in front of a dilemma I have already alluded to: we exclude from life, locally, the forms of organization that are not integrated to the world of commodities, risking all other forms of living—at least the ones we thought of as possible, where there was co-responsibility to the places we live and the respect for the life of beings, and not only this abstraction we allowed ourselves to construct as one humanity, which excludes all others and other beings.28

While Haraway insists this system would not be imposed but rather willingly embraced, her speculative proposal relies on the assumption of good will from all involved. Five hundred years of history have, however, abundantly shown this is not the case. As long as some people are perceived as not fully human, any such system is bound to facilitate violence being inflicted upon already marginalized populations—those living at the blunt end of what philosopher Maria Lugones calls the colonial/modern gender system. This system, Lugones clarifies, is fundamental to the establishment and continuation of the colonial project, and includes what she calls a ‘light’ and a ‘dark’ side which operate in distinct ways, and act upon distinct bodies. Hegemonic (that is, European) constructions of gender and sex/sexuality are characteristic of the ‘light’ side of the colonial/modern gender system, which orders ‘the lives of white bourgeois men and women’.29 Concurrently, this light side constructs the meaning (epistemological and ontological) of the modern categories of ‘men’ and ‘women’.30

The ‘dark’ side to the colonial/modern gender system governs the lives of those who exist outside of white bourgeois heteropatriarchy. Both sides of this gender system are violent, yet they manifest this inherent violence in different ways. Whereas white women are encumbered with perpetuating the white race—as Angela Davis has also highlighted31—women of color are ‘understood as animals in the deep sense of “without gender”, sexually marked as female, but without the characteristics of femininity.’32 In the rhetoric of harm reduction related to the climate crisis, similar arguments are translated into calls for the surveillance of fertility—many similar to Haraway’s—framed as necessary and beneficial for the entire world’s population. Concurrently, the uncomfortable fact of the Global North’s perpetual hunger for disposable goods, exploitable bodies, and natural resources—all key factors in the ongoing crisis—often remains un- or under-examined. Instead the blame is shifted to those existing under the duress inflicted through centuries of colonial domination, which as Krenak stresses, is in itself an ongoing project of world-ending.33 Ultimately, these concerns reveal the perversity of calls for care—reproductive care, in particular—that do not adequately address underlying capitalist-colonial articulations. This in itself is a violence, one more way of consuming an ‘other’.

Predictably, the narrative of climate crisis linked to uncontrolled reproduction is materialized in technologies currently being developed to provide so-called solutions to the perceived problem of overpopulation. A notable example is that of the startup Microchips Biotech, backed by the Gates Foundation and partnered with Israeli company Teva Pharmaceutical, whose flagship product, announced in 2014, is a remote-controlled smart birth-control implant that had been planned for commercial release in 2018.34 The microchip can be turned on and off with a proprietary app controlled by a physician; it is designed to work for up to sixteen years—so for a large part of one’s fertile life—as opposed to the three years of existing contraceptive implants. Additionally, the implant could collect a number of data points about patients, ostensibly to provide tailored healthcare solutions. The chip, Bill Gates clarified in 2014, was being conceived with the developing world in mind, more so than Western audiences, the rationale being that in these regions, it would mean a ‘form of reproductive justice’, rather than merely a ‘lifestyle choice’,35 and could be distributed as part of the numerous birth-control programs initiated by the foundation in the Global South. As of 2019, no new information has been publicly released about the project.

The mass distribution of devices like the Microchips implant could have serious implications for the digitalized biometric surveillance of those living on the ‘dark side’ of the colonial/modern gender system. These bodies have long been hypervisible, targets of surveillance by public and private actors. In order to understand the wide-ranging implications of this surveillance, however, it is fundamental to approach ‘reproduction’ as a broader set of life-making practices and articulations, rather than as a strictly biological process. Returning to the question of scarcity helps reframe the oft-repeated narrative of ‘choice’ pushed by many white Western feminists in relation to reproduction. Scarcity—of food, housing, healthcare, education, adequate climactic conditions—is precisely the argument that animates much of the supposed necessity for contraceptive technologies such as the one developed by Microchips Biotech in the Global South and so insistently pushed by the likes of Gates and Patel. It follows that in order to avoid scarcity, these subjects then must be monitored, their fertility controlled ‘for their own good’, considered incapable of making such decisions on their own. So goes the perverse narrative of ‘care’ tied to scarcity: the vulnerable must accept and be grateful for any apparent help provided by the same powerful actors who profit from that vulnerability in the first place.

It is also fundamental to consider that the lived experience of constructed scarcity has profound effects on the paths and choices one feels compelled to follow. In 18th century Surinam, naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian documented the use of an infusion of peacock flower by enslaved Indigenous and African peoples as a way to provoke abortions. This, Merian stressed, was a reaction to the conditions of extreme violence to which these people were subjected; they did so, she wrote, ‘so that their children will not become slaves like they are.’36 Currently, although the threat of climate disasters looms over the entire planet, there is still a sharp distinction between those most affected, and those who command the resources to survive the oncoming catastrophe. The dominant narrative of the climate crisis is one of suffering delegated to someone else, somewhere else by an economic system that hinges on the production of scarcity for some in order to offer wealth for others. It is a narrative that negates the personhood of beings: human and nonhuman, living and not yet or no longer embodied—a lingering effect of the colonial hierarchies that have long been used to justify the expropriation of land, exploitation of bodies, and extraction of so-called resources. It is a narrative that feeds the colonial hunger for homogenization and globalization, which seeks to ‘suppress diversity, deny the plurality of forms of life, existence, and habits’, offering ‘the same menu, the same costumes and, if possible, the same language to all.’37 And so those who ‘hold on to this Earth’ are pushed and shoved into a monocultural, universalizing narrative, while simultaneously remaining ‘forgotten along the borders of the planet, the margins of rivers, the shores of oceans’,38 navigating the same perverse plot that produced and produces this marginalization. When dark skies loom above, however, Krenak reminds us: ‘There are so many small constellations of people scattered all over the world who dance, sing, make rain.’39 World-endings have happened so many times before, marking the margins of the world like scars, but ‘when you feel the sky is getting too low, all you have to do is to push it back and breathe.’40

An Abundance of Small Gestures

How is it possible, then, to create the conditions for life within a political system designed to produce death? How to counteract a narrative of scarcity for which the only resolution presented by the current system is the total consumption of the Earth, and with it all of the persons—human and nonhuman, living and not yet or no longer embodied—who exist in relation to it? How to sustain radical, decolonizing practices of care and affect that directly challenge the infrastructures that monitor and restrict the ability to create futures and sustain worlds that are multiple, plural, heterogenous?

In 2019, I undertook a joint residency between transmediale and the Universität der Künste Berlin to work on a project titled The Councils of the Pluriversal: Affective Temporalities of Reproduction and Climate Change. In it, I intended to convene the Councils—a series of meetings with activists, artists, elders, and thinkers hailing from marginalized groups in Northern nations, and the Global South. In these events I would propose discussions pertaining to the entanglements between the climate crisis, reproduction, ancestral and future histories, land and belonging, and radical, decolonizing forms of care. A guiding principle to these events would be the notion of ‘un mundo donde quepan muchos mundos’—that is, a world in which many worlds fit—a conception first advanced by the Zapatista liberation movement in Mexico:

Many words are walked in the world. Many worlds are made. Many worlds make us. There are words and worlds that are lies and injustices. There are words and worlds that are truthful and true. We make truthful worlds. We are made by truthful words. In the world of the powerful there is space only for the big and their servants. In the world we want there is space for all. The world we want is a world where many worlds fit. The nation we build is one that may fit all the peoples and their languages, that may be walked by all gaits, that may be laughed in, that may be awoken.41

This conception rejects universalizing impulses toward consensus, favoring instead temporal, spatial, and infrastructural multiplicities that nurture the emergence of epistemological and ontological complexity. The Councils of the Pluriversal were conceived as dialogic and idiosyncratic events, not meant to provide exhaustive, unifying, or definitive summaries of issues of care, temporalities, reproduction, and climate change, but rather to provide possible points of entry to think and act through these issues.

Throughout the research process, I had the honor and privilege to strengthen and expand affective bonds of care and intimacy with a number of people operating within the vastly distinct contexts of Rio de Janeiro and Boa Vista, Brazil, and Berlin, Germany. I extend my deepest gratitude to Dagmar Schultz and Ika Hügel-Marshall in Berlin; to Vó Bernaldina, Jaider Esbell, Paula Berbert, Raquel Blaque, Amazoner Arawak, Parmênio Citó, and Caio Clímaco in Boa Vista; as well as to the hundreds of activists I encountered in the streets of Rio, protesting while caring for one another, and keeping each other safe. These bonds were not all started as part of this project; most were existing relationships that had emerged through shared interests in the struggle for decolonization, as well as for reproductive and climate justice. Some of these bonds extended, too, to nonhuman beings—the lavrado vegetation, the rivers and igarapés of the state of Roraima, where Boa Vista is located42—as well as to human beings no longer embodied—in particular, to Audre Lorde and May Ayim, whose truth in words and worlds is capable of transcending life itself.

Most importantly, all of these persons were already, through their practices—as activists, artists, curators, singers, cooks, storytellers, curators, cultural workers, writers, poets, filmmakers, educators, and care workers, among others—conducting their own versions of what I had come to call The Councils of the Pluriversal. Amongst all of the experiences I had while developing this research, this was perhaps the most significant and humbling realization: art, particularly politically oriented art, often risks gravitating toward grand, sensational gestures. These become performances that benefit those who hold power, including artists themselves, far more than those actually affected by the issues at hand.

There was no need for me to name the Councils as such; they already existed in alternate forms, practiced by people whose sincerity, commitment, and deep understanding of their communities and peers allow them to articulate spaces where ever-evolving forms of caring for one another can emerge across an extended period of time. This type of maintenance work is made of smaller gestures with long-term repercussions, gestures that trouble the narrative of scarcity advanced by capitalism, and point toward other possibilities, other realities, other worlds where abundance—of time, generosity, affection, patience—is possible. This work is Makuxi elder Vó Bernaldina preparing damurida, an ancestral fish stew made with local ingredients, cooked in a pot made with clay borrowed from the land, and eaten with cassava flour, for those who arrive to visit artist Jaider Esbell’s gallery in Boa Vista. It is artist and cook Raquel Blaque repurposing the leftovers with foraged local herbs and vegetables to feed a group of school students who wanted a space where they could engage with Indigenous art, and discuss the ongoing fires that consumed the forest south of Boa Vista. It is artist and anthropologist Amazoner Arawak sharing stories on Wapixana cosmologies, and the exploitation of Indigenous material cultures by European cultural institutions over a bottle of caxiri.43 It is Jaider’s generosity in opening up his life, his gallery, his home to those who arrive in Boa Vista with the intent to live and exchange and learn. It is a group of young students holding a large placard protesting the burning of the Amazon in Rio de Janeiro and being fed by their peers, so that they wouldn’t need to drop the sign. It is Dagmar Schultz and Ika Hügel-Marshall, lifelong friends of Audre Lorde, cooking a meal in their home to introduce young feminist, anti-racist, and environmental activists to one another—in the same way Lorde did, too. It is Vó Bernaldina singing a Makuxi song celebrating the recognition of the Raposa Serra do Sol territory as Indigenous land.

Developing bonds of affection is a long-term process, as remarked by Ailton Krenak to art worker and cultural producer Paula Berbert and relayed to me in conversation. It is only through nurturing sincere, solid relationships that the conditions for sustaining life can emerge; that truly pluriversal modes of engaging with each other and with the world can come into being. Counteracting the narrative of scarcity demands abundance. In the end, instead of convening councils as I had imagined, the main avenue of work became an exploration of these different forms of relating and practicing care with other bodies, human and nonhuman; the beginning of a long-term engagement, whose first ramifications will be presented at transmediale 2020. After all, as Krenak points out:

Why does the feeling of falling cause us such discomfort? We haven’t done anything lately but fall. Fall, fall, fall. So why are we worried about the process of falling? Let us use all of our critical and creative capacity to build colorful parachutes. Let us think of space not as a confined place, but as a cosmos where we can fall with colorful parachutes.44

Decolonization is not an individual choice; it demands collective, sustained, committed work. Let us feed these visions for a future of blue skies and open paths. Let us nourish each other with responsibility, care, affection, and patience.

  • 1. Ana Luíza Guimarães, Globoplay, ‘Acidente Derruba Agrotóxico Na Marginal Da Rodovia Na Baixada’ (24 August 2019),
  • 2. Patrícia Figueiredo, Moradores de SP Coletam Água Preta de Chuva Em Dia Que a Cidade Ficou Sob Nuvem Escura, G1 (20 August 2019),
  • 3. Ana Carolina Moreno, ‘Desmatamento na Amazônia em junho é 88% maior do que no mesmo período de 2018’, G1 (3 July 2019),
  • 4. Ailton Krenak, Ideias para adiar o fim do mundo, vol. 1, São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2019, p. 49. All quotes from this work, translation mine.
  • 5. Ibid., p. 32.
  • 6. Ibid., p. 22.
  • 7. Victoria Derbyshire, BBC News (9 a.m.–11 a.m. 11 July 2017),
  • 8. Thomas Robert Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014 (1798), p. 50.
  • 9. Eric B. Ross, The Malthus Factor: Poverty, Politics and Population in Capitalist Development, New York: Zed Books, 1998, p. 1.
  • 10. Kalpana Wilson, Race, Racism and Development: Interrogating History, Discourse and Practice, New York: Zed Books, 2012.
  • 11. Paul R. Ehrlich, The Population Bomb, New York: Ballantine Books, 1969.
  • 12. Dorothy Roberts, Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty, New York: Vintage Books, 1998.
  • 13. Wilson, Race, Racism and Development; Laura Briggs, Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science, and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.
  • 14. Dorothy Roberts, Killing the Black Body.
  • 15. Angela Y. Davis, Women, Race, & Class, New York: Vintage, 1983.
  • 16. Elena R. Gutiérrez, Fertile Matters: The Politics of Mexican-Origin Women’s Reproduction, Austin: University of Texas Press, 2008.
  • 17. Anne Hendrixson, ‘Angry Young Men, Veiled Young Women: Constructing a New Population Threat’, The Corner House, Briefing 34 (2 December 2004),
  • 18. A Woman’s Womb (dir. Mathilde Damoisel, 2010), downloadable at:
  • 19. Emilia Sanabria, Plastic Bodies: Sex Hormones and Menstrual Suppression in Brazil, Durham: Duke University Press, 2016.
  • 20. Ranier Bragon, ‘Bolsonaro defendeu esterilização de pobres para combater miséria e crime’, Folha de S.Paulo (11 June 2018),
  • 21. Sanabria, Plastic Bodies; Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, ‘Espetáculo da miscigenação’, Estudos Avançados 8.20 (April 1994): 137-152.
  • 22. Natasha Lennard, ‘The El Paso Shooter Embraced Eco-Fascism. We Can’t Let the Far Right Co-Opt the Environmental Struggle’, The Intercept (5 August 2019),
  • 23. Krenak, Ideias para adiar o fim do mundo, p. 21.
  • 24. Adele Clarke and Donna J. Haraway (eds), Making Kin Not Population: Reconceiving Generations, Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, 2018, pp. 71-72.
  • 25. Ibid., p. 88.
  • 26. Ibid., p. 87.
  • 27. Ibid., p. 75.
  • 28. Krenak, Ideias para adiar o fim do mundo, pp. 46-47.
  • 29. Maria Lugones, Heterosexualism and the Colonial/Modern Gender System, Hypatia 22.1 (2007): 186-209, p. 206.
  • 30. Ibid.
  • 31. Davis, Women, Race, & Class, p. 209.
  • 32. Lugones, Heterosexualism, p. 202.
  • 33. Krenak, Ideias para adiar o fim do mundo.
  • 34. Microchips Biotech,; Rob Matheson, ‘Major Step for Implantable Drug-Delivery Device’, MIT News (29 June 2015),
  • 35. Dominic Basulto, ‘This Amazing Remote-Controlled Contraceptive Microchip You Implant under Your Skin Is the Future of Medicine’, Washington Post (17 July 2014),
  • 36. Maria Sibylla Merian, Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, Tielt: Lannoo Publishers, 2016, p. 45.
  • 37. Krenak, Ideias para adiar o fim do mundo, pp. 22-23.
  • 38. Ibid., p. 21.
  • 39. Ibid., p. 26.
  • 40. Ibid., p. 28.
  • 41. Comité Clandestino Revolucionario Indígena-Comandancia General del Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, Cuarta Declarión de la Selva Lacandona, Enlace Zapatista, Translation mine.
  • 42. Lavrado, a Brazilian savanna; igarapé, an Amazonian watercourse.
  • 43. A fermented cassava-based drink, typical of the Amazon basin.
  • 44. renak, Ideias para adiar o fim do mundo, p. 30.


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