Accepted paper:

Niches and nexus: producing landscape and transforming nature in Northeast Portugal


Guilherme José da Silva e Sá (Universidade de Brasília (UnB))

Paper short abstract:

This talk will address two processes of transforming landscape through a rewilding experience in a nature reserve located in the Beira Alta Interior region of Portugal. These processes are situated within institutional efforts to reconstruct nature in the context of the Anthropocene.

Paper long abstract:

The impact of the Anthropocene (understood as human agency as a new and powerful geological force), which is expressed through climate change, is manifested at both the global and local levels and is defined by essentially different indexes. Although the iconic indexes of climate change (temperature, pressure variation and precipitation indexes, methane and carbon dioxide levels, and the monitoring of atmospheric ozone levels) remain a source of controversy between the skeptics and the scientists who are aware of global warming, they are nonetheless inteligible to the group of experts capable of translating their data. At the same time, events that broadly impact people across the planet have become more common, and manifested themselves as alterations to the landscapes of human habitats. These changes include severe flooding, prolonged dry spells, desertification, siltation and the depletion of freshwater resources, not to mention increasingly severe storms. I argue that it's necessary to understand the political mobilizations surrounding the Anthropocene in the disputes among the experts and its mechanisms of inscription, though it's equally important to observe the dynamics of (re)composition of the landscape according to how this takes place among local actors. In this talk I'll focus on this last aspect by analyzing the history of human interventions in a specific natural landscape. I'll utilize the concepts of landscape transfiguration (Descola) and "landscape perception" (Gibson) to describe some of the landscape transformations in northeast Portugal. These changes represent contemporary efforts to reinvent a natural landscape in accordance with new contexts of environmental preservation.

panel P004
Environmental crisis, humans and all others