Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen, University of Helsinki "Amazonian Indigenous biocultural heritage, temporality, and communal protection of ancestral landscapes"

Helsinki University Humanities Programme, Helsinki Environmental Humanities Forum, March 3, 2020 (Tuesday), at 14.15- 15.45, HELSUS Lounge, Porthania 244, Yliopistonkatu 3, 2 krs.


A critical contemporary line of inquiry into Amazonian historical ecology has investigated the impacts that past human populations have had on the environment, and the extent to which they contributed to its diversification. In this paper, I will address Apurinã ancestral forests and historical places in Brazilian Amazonia, and consequently Amazonian Indigenous biocultural heritage which is inseparable from nonhuman actors. They guide preferred ecological practices, core values, care, and respect towards the environment, but also avoidance, and thus show specific intergenerational ways of managing and relating to the land. Local experiences and knowledge point to ontological and temporal aspects that are crucial in communal ways of protecting biocultural heritage for future generations. Lastly, I will discuss how Amazonian Indigenous views on human-environment reciprocity and diverse subjective perspectives offer a critical view to the era called “the Anthropocene”. 


Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen, PhD in Latin American Studies, is asst. professor and the head of Indigenous Studies at the University of Helsinki. Her research interests include epistemological plurality, Indigenous research methodologies, and research ethics. She has worked in Brazilian Amazonia since 2003. Her publications include monographs, edited books and articles on Amazonian Indigenous politics, leaderships, education, cultural landscapes, mobility, human–environment interactions, sustainability, digital technologies, and youthhood. Virtanen is the author of Indigenous Youth in Brazilian Amazonia: Changing Lived Worlds (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), and co-editor of Creating Dialogues: Indigenous Perceptions and Changing Forms of Leadership in Amazonia (Colorado University Press, 2017). In addition to her research interests, she has co-authored various Indigenous school materials.


Accessibility: Our venue is wheelchair accessible only partially because the elevators in Porthania are small. Electric wheelchairs do not fit in Porthania elevators. In our venue there is no dedicated wheelchair seating, but there is space for wheelchairs. Should you have specific questions regarding the location, please contact organizers in English or Finnish: viktor.pal@helsinki.fi