Vinicius de Aguiar Furuie

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Princeton U.

Grant number

Gr. 9403

Approve Date

April 18, 2017

Project Title

de Aguiar Furuie, Vinicius, Princeton U., Princeton, NJ - To aid research on 'Xingu River Trade: An Ethnography of Value in the Belo Monte Dam Area,' supervised by Joao Biehl

Preliminary abstract: Amazonia is frequently portrayed as a vast territory in which people live in isolation. In fact, for centuries trade along the many rivers of the Amazonian basin has been an important means of connection between settlements along the riverbanks and continues to provide services and products essential for survival in the region. This project examines diverse aspects of river trade in the middle Xingu basin of Pará, Brazil: its economic meanings, its relation to kin and affinity networks, the politics and ethics behind it and how it is being affected by the construction of large scale infra- structure projects like the Belo Monte Dam. It focuses on figures locally known as ‘regatões,’ traders who pilot small boats from the city of Altamira to upstream settlements carrying manufactured products such as ground coffee, sugar, and ammunition from the city, and bringing back rubber, fish, and Brazil nuts from the communities. I investigate how this trade is embedded in interpersonal relations that include notions of mutual obligations and rights, and how the transformations of the surrounding economic landscape affect the activity and elicit emerging forms of sociality and politics in riverside communities. The life stories, accounting system and relationships of the regatões offer a window into how value is calculated in the Middle Xingu across diverse regimes of production and exchange. My work focuses on how this economic link between the urban market economy and extractive production upriver is essential to maintaining the livelihoods of forest communities, particularly in the wake of recent transformations.