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Understanding women's stewardship in the Amazon: A decolonial-process-relational perspective


Abstract and Figures

The widespread and increasing forest degradation in the Amazon contrasts with a range of individual or collective practices developed by local agents, which have the potential to reconcile conservation and local understanding of the quality of life and economic development. The role of women among these initiatives has been overlooked or not well understood. Therefore, methods are needed that allow their voices and understandings to be centralized. In this thesis, I make use of decolonial and process-relational approaches to do justice to women, as an invitation to a folk science, when addressing questions about their role in landscape stewardship practices in the Amazon. How can these practices contribute in an innovative way to food diversity and biodiversity conservation in the region? What are the processes that can facilitate or restrict women's individual or collective agency? Women play a crucial role in landscape stewardship. Still, their agency is severely restricted by the ongoing neo-colonial processes, which affects socioecological spaces. However, they have been organizing themselves to overcome obstacles through their local networks. By understanding "womenature" and their stewardship practices of caring for the land as an indissoluble part of the forest means to understand in depth the tipping points of the Amazon, which are interconnected to the tipping points of its populations. This is a key factor to broaden our understanding of togetherness that can lead to a more equitable and fairer path towards sustainability in and for the Amazon. __________________________________________________________________________________ Open Access in DiVA ->
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Masters Thesis, 60 ECTS
Social-ecological Resilience for Sustainable Development
Masters programme 2018/2020, 120 ECTS
Understanding women's stewardship in the Amazon
A decolonial-process-relational perspective
Taís González
Stockholm Resilience Centre
Sustainability Science for Biosphere Stewardship
Understanding women's stewardship in the Amazon
A decolonial-process-relational perspective
Subject field/research area: Stewardship, Gender, Process-relational perspective,
Decoloniality, Interdisciplinary research.
Supervisor: Maria Tengö -;
Co-supervisors: Wjinand Broonstra and Jamila Haider.
Stockholm Resilience Center
Thesis in an article format based on the instructions for authors in Ecology and Society.
Abstract .................................................................................................................. 5
List of acronyms ..................................................................................................... 6
Acknowledgments .................................................................................................. 7
Preface ................................................................................................................... 8
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 9
Purpose and Research Questions ............................................................................ 10
Understanding landscape stewardship using a decolonial-process-relational
perspective ................................................................................................................... 11
Landscape stewardship ............................................................................................ 11
Infusing: Decolonial-Process-Relational Perspective ............................................... 11
Representation of the concepts .............................................................................. 13
Case study description ................................................................................................. 14
Western Amazon of Pará past and present colonial processes ........................... 14
Food and commodity production in the region ....................................................... 15
Methodological approach ............................................................................................ 18
Positionality: Quem eu sou - Who I am. ................................................................... 18
Decoloniality in Research Design ............................................................................. 18
Sampling ................................................................................................................... 20
Interviews, narratives, and participant observation ............................................... 23
Focus group .............................................................................................................. 23
Data analysis ............................................................................................................ 25
Language .................................................................................................................. 25
Results .......................................................................................................................... 26
1. Relations............................................................................................................ 26
2. Changes ............................................................................................................. 30
3. Hope ..................................................................................................................... 34
Focus Groups Results ............................................................................................... 38
Discussion ..................................................................................................................... 40
RQ1. What is the role of women in landscape stewardship practices in the
Amazon? .................................................................................................................. 40
RQ2. How can these practices contribute in an innovative way to food diversity
and biodiversity conservation in the region? .......................................................... 40
RQ3. What are the processes that can facilitate or restrict women's individual or
collective agency? .................................................................................................... 41
What can we learn from them? ............................................................................... 42
Methodological and ethical reflections ................................................................... 43
Conclusions .................................................................................................................. 44
Literature cited ............................................................................................................. 45
Annexes ........................................................................................................................ 51
Interview Guide ........................................................................................................ 51
Plain Language Statement ....................................................................................... 55
Consent form ........................................................................................................... 58
AGENTS Project ........................................................................................................ 62
Detailed Interpreted Results in Portuguese ............................................................ 63
Ethical Review final review ................................................................................... 65
The widespread and increasing forest degradation in the Amazon contrasts with a
range of individual or collective practices developed by local agents, which have the
potential to reconcile conservation and local understanding of the quality of life and
economic development. The role of women among these initiatives has been
overlooked or not well understood. Therefore, methods are needed that allow their
voices and understandings to be centralized. In this thesis I make use of decolonial
and process-relational approaches to do justice to women, as an invitation to a folk
science, when addressing questions about their role in landscape stewardship practices
in the Amazon. How can these practices contribute in an innovative way to food
diversity and biodiversity conservation in the region? What are the processes that can
facilitate or restrict women's individual or collective agency?
Women play a crucial role in landscape stewardship. Still, their agency is severely
restricted by the ongoing neo-colonial processes, which affects socioecological spaces.
However, they have been organizing themselves to overcome obstacles through their
local networks. By understanding womenature and their stewardship practices of
caring for the land as an indissoluble part of the forest means to understand in depth
the tipping points of the Amazon, which are interconnected to the tipping points of its
populations. This is a key factor to broaden our understanding of togetherness that can
lead to a more equitable and fairer path towards sustainability in and for the Amazon.
Key words: Gender, Landscapes Stewardship, Process-relational perspective; Decoloniality;
Knowledge, Amazon.
A degradação florestal generalizada e crescente na Amazônia contrasta com uma gama de
práticas individuais ou coletivas desenvolvidas por agentes locais, que têm o potencial de
conciliar a conservação e a compreensão local sobre qualidade de vida e desenvolvimento
econômico. O papel das mulheres nessas iniciativas tem sido esquecido ou não é bem
compreendido. Portanto, são necessários métodos que permitam que suas vozes e
entendimentos sejam centralizados. Nesta tese utilizo abordagens descoloniais e processuais-
relacionais para fazer jus às mulheres, como um convite à ciência popular, ao abordar
questões sobre seu papel nas práticas de manejo da paisagem na Amazônia; ou como essas
práticas podem contribuir de forma inovadora para a diversidade alimentar e conservação da
biodiversidade na região?; e quais são os processos que podem facilitar ou restringir a agência
individual ou coletiva das mulheres?
As mulheres desempenham um papel crucial na gestão da paisagem. Ainda assim, sua agência
é severamente restringida pelos processos (neo)coloniais em andamento, nos quais afetam
espaços socioecológicos. Porém, eles vêm se organizando para superar obstáculos por meio
de suas redes locais. Entender as mulheresnatureza e suas práticas de manejo do cuidado com
a terra como parte indissolúvel da floresta significa entender em profundidade os pontos de
inflexão da Amazônia, que estão interligados aos pontos de inflexão de suas populações. Este
é um fator chave para ampliar nosso entendimento de união que pode levar a um caminho
mais equitativo e justo em direção à sustentabilidade na e para a Amazônia.
Palavras-chave: Gênero, Manejo da paisagem, Perspectiva relacional-processual; Descolonialidade;
Conhecimento, Amazônia.
List of acronyms
FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization
PAR Participatory Action Research
SES Socio-ecological Systems
FASE Federação de Órgãos para Assistência Social e Educacional (Federation of
Social and Educational Assistance Bodies)
EMATER Empresa de Assistência Técnica e Extensão Rural (Technical Assistance
and Rural Extension Company)
IPAM Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia (Amazon Environmental
Research Institute)
STTR Sindicato dos Trabalhadores e das Trabalhadoras Rurais (Union of Rural
UFOPA Universidade Federal do Oeste do Pará (Federal University of Western
I see my political awakening as a unique experience that runs through and connects
me to places and no-places, to human and non-human (and also inhumans along the
way), to my ancestors that guided me until here and to the spirits of the Amazon
rainforest. In these processes, I arrived at the SRC and found a new family, that I have
been connected and disconnected to and for the past two years we coevolved in the
processes of becoming - together. For that, I thank Maria Tengö for choosing me to
be part of the AGENTS project, for her patience with me, for her guidance and for
believing in me when I did not. I thank Wijnand Boonstra for the depth and sensitivity
of his feedbacks and for clearly understand the confusion of my thoughts. I thank
Jamila Haider for such radiant and empathetic guidance.
I thank Eduardo Brondízio, Célia Futemma, Fábio de Castro and all the researchers of
the project for their active participation in this thesis, and Daiana Monteiro Tourne, in
particularly, who should be considered my fourth supervisor. Responsible for my
fieldwork in Brazil, she went much further and taught me so much during this process
and, eventually, became a friend.
To all my classmates who encouraged and helped me in this process, especially to
Naomi Terry for the dedicated and delicate comments and review, thank you. To all
the researchers who were part of this togetherness becoming” processes, in particular,
Ana Paula Aguiar, Liz Drury O'Neil, Amanda Jiménez Aceituno, Tilman Hertz, and
María Mancilla García - who reminded me that everything flows, and nothing is
permanent, thank you!
I thank all those who collaborated before during and after my fieldwork, Andrea
Coelho, Lucietta Martorano, the institutions that supported me UFOPA, EMATER,
IPAM and FASE. I especially thank the associations of women in the region, AMTR,
Flores do Campo and Amabela - the latter who especially welcomes me and was
fundamental for this essay.
I am grateful to the artist Thomas Medicus, who kindly granted the reproduction of
the images of Head Instructor and reminded me of Oswald de Andrades Cannibal
Manifesto (Manifesto Antropófago), which made me realize that I do also
“cannibalize” his art to strengthen my own.
I want to thank all those I consider my family from near and far who support me and
believe that I will continue in this process of learning and liberation. In particular, I
thank my own environment formed by human and non-human - the place I call
home, with which I establish a deep connection of responsibility, care and love.
Pandora, my dog healer, who is part of me and taught me that if I take care of her, she
will take care of me.
Finally, I would like to thank all the women who co-produced this thesis and
welcomed me to Pará, who opened the door to their homes and shared their lives,
their stories, knowledge, challenges, tears and smiles with me. With them, I learned
that care is done with love, but not always an option; and that we must continue to be
resistance through the realization of our little things.
Latin America is the region of open veins. Everything, from the discovery until our
times, has always been transmuted into European or later United States capital,
and as such has accumulated in distant centers of power. Everything: the soil, its
fruits and its mineral-rich depths, the people and their capacity to work and to
consume, natural resources and human resources. Production methods and class
structure have been successively determined from outside for each area by meshing it
into the universal gearbox of capitalism. To each area has been assigned a function,
always for the benefit of the foreign metropolis of the moment, and the endless chain
of dependency has been endlessly extended. The chain has many more than two links.
In Latin America it also includes the oppression of small countries by their larger
neighbors and, within each country's frontiers, the exploitation by big cities and ports
of their internal sources of food and labor. (Four centuries ago, sixteen of today's
twenty biggest Latin American cities already existed.) For those who see history as a
competition, Latin America's backwardness and poverty are merely the results of its
failure. We lost; others won. But the winners happen to have won thanks to our losing:
the history of Latin America's underdevelopment is, as someone has said, an integral
part of the history of world capitalism's development. Our defeat was always implicit
in the victory of others; our wealth has always generated our poverty by nourishing
the prosperity of others…” Eduardo Galeano (1997, p. 2). Open veins of Latin
America: Five centuries of the pillage of a continent.
What can centuries of colonization do with a colonized region, a colonized country?
What happens with countries that have colonized others? How can we speak of
decolonization (or decoloniality) if the history of colonization has been forgotten for
decades? How to dwell in the border in an oppressed and oppressive country? How
can we really understand the Amazon “without taking account of the manifold
processes that have shaped it”? How can racialized, marginalized women in their
roças’ (plots) and from their roças’ lead the resistance against the toxic agribusiness
and regimes of accumulation, expropriation, and violence? I deepened my own
decolonization and started to understand these questions with their help.
Today’s challenges, acknowledging the impacts of a worldwide pandemic, expose the
global food system’s vulnerabilities and inequalities, heightened by some sectors,
such as intensive industrial agriculture (FAO 2014, 2017). This type of agriculture
represents a large portion of greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for climate change
(Walker, 2009). Most industrial, agricultural production of commodities for global
markets takes place in countries in the Global South, reinforcing colonial mechanisms
based on the extractive exploitation and the commodification of nature (Acosta 2013,
Wilson and Stammler 2016, Acosta 2017, McKay 2017, Raftopoulos 2017). The
deforestation of the Amazon considered the world’s largest environmental tipping
point (Nobre and Borma 2009, Nobre et al. 2016), has been accelerated by large-scale
projects in the region (Andersson et al. 2014, Castro et al. 2016), for instance,
intensive industrial agriculture production of soybeans and beef for export is
responsible for illegal deforestation in the Amazon (Rajão et al. 2020).
Similar to other parts of the country, the region is working to overcome colonization’s
legacy, which left deep wounds such as authoritarianism, institutionalized racism, and
heteropatriarchy. However, the current national development agenda for the Amazon
facilitates access to infrastructure for large-scale commodities, increasing social and
spatial inequalities and various conflicts and injustices (Castro et al. 2016), especially
towards family farmers. Family farmers are recognized not only to produce food and
commodities that supply regional and global markets but also to contribute to the
development of productive agricultural systems and social innovations (Brondízio
2008, Futemma 2020). Family farming has become widely recognized for its material
and immaterial contributions, and its social role through its form of production
(Delgado and Bergamasso 2017), but also, through its role in traditional landscape
stewardship (Bieling and Plieninge 2017). Family farming is also a lifestyle where
agricultural production is a strategy to guarantee food security (Garner and de la O
Campos 2014). According to the 2017 Census, in Brazil, as a percentage of total
domestic production family farming produces 87% of cassava, 70% of beans, 34% of
rice, 50% of poultry and 30% of cattle. These are the basis of the country’s diet.
In this setting where large-scale farmers are leading economic, environmental, and
social changes which perpetuate unsustainable use of the land, oppressing family
farmers, the role of women’s in guaranteeing food and agricultural diversity is
overlooked or not sufficiently understood. This can be problematic as the paths to
understanding and leading the transition to sustainable landscape governance without
these women will be inadequate. Women represent more than 40% of the agricultural
labour force in the Global South. They are also responsible for the household
activities and possess traditional knowledges in agriculture due to their historical
practices (Karam 2004), the key to conserving agricultural biodiversity (SOFA Team
and Doss 2011). To present the perspective of people who self-identify as women, this
essay takes a decolonial and process-relational perspective. Specifically, the use of
decolonial theory refers to a decolonial-feminist approach, implicit in the literature
from which I have drawn. Nonetheless, I will outline further how decolonial theory
and a process-relational perspective fundamentally guides the research. This approach
can contribute to a better understanding of the expansion of capitalism and the
reproduction of gender inequalities (Verschuur and Destremau 2012). This is
particularly important in a society with structural sexism, as in Brazil, feminicide -
homicide of women - reached 13 murders per day in 2017 (Cerqueira et al. 2019).
Purpose and Research Questions
I seek to explore the process-relational perspective to better understand women's role
in innovative practices in landscape stewardship, which can lead to agricultural, food
diversity, and biodiversity conservation. In order to better understand women's role,
perceptions, and stewardship practices, it is necessary not just hear their voices but
include them in the construction of this essay. To do so, I use decoloniality as a praxis
(Smith 1997), which advocates for alternatives and culturally appropriate methods. I
elaborate then my analytical question to delve deeper into my collaborators'
reasoning, "what did traditional women say about their work in the field, and what are
they trying to accomplish?"
I made this a Participatory Action Research (PAR) (Borda 1987) in which I try to
democratise knowledge and overcome the binary position of subject-object and
engage with women I interacted as collaborators rather than informants or objects
of my research. Together with them, I address the following questions:
1. What is the role of women in landscape stewardship practices in the Amazon?
2. How can these practices contribute in an innovative way to food diversity and
biodiversity conservation in the region?
3. What are the process that can facilitate or restrict women's individual or collective
Based on these questions, I discuss what can be learned from women for sustainability
in the Amazon and beyond, both in understanding their conditions, innovations for the
future, and steward's lifestyle.
Understanding landscape stewardship using a
decolonial-process-relational perspective
Here, I will motivate the combination of perspectives and concepts used in this study:
landscape stewardship, decolonial and process-relational perspective. There are
threaded through the conceptualization and methodology. My collaborators helped me
to understand the different concepts from different schools of thought in an
interwoven way.
Landscape stewardship
How do we understand pathways to sustainability in the Amazon? One approach is to
start with existing initiatives that have already for centuries contributed to local
livelihoods and forest conservation for instance, family farms. The term stewardship,
action in pursuit of sustainability (Bennett et al. 2018), focuses on these positive
examples of human nature coexistence in the Amazon. The concept of stewardship is
increasingly understood within the framework of complex socio-ecological systems
(SES) (Cockburn et al. 2020, Cockburn et al. 2018). Scholars have considered not
only the complex characteristics of the SES with its nonlinear dynamics but also
focused on understanding the entanglement dimensions of interactions between
humans and nature (Berkes, Folke and Colding 2000).
Furthermore, conceptual, and empirical studies of these social dimensions have
increased focus on the relationality of these interactions (Cockburn et al. 2020, Garcia
et al. 2020a, Stenseke 2018, Cooke et al. 2016). However, studies comprising
landscape stewardship that addresses a process-relational perspective with a gender
focus is still premature. This study makes use of the definition of landscape as: the
sphere in which people and nature interact (Wu 2013); and stewardship as: an
embodied sense of stewardship suggested by Cooke et al. (2016) a with focus on the
dwelling perspective, which encompasses having holistic views, relational
worldviews and considering mind-body and human-non-human connections. Without
considering the colonial processes that have been shaping people and forest, and the
fact that nature is interconnected to women, and is also an entity that must be
respected and not stewarded, this concept would be incomplete.
Infusing: Decolonial-Process-Relational Perspective
From a process-relational perspective the socioecological is one entity, formed
through processes and exists due to the interactions between itself, “they can thus only
be understood ontologically with respect to each other” (Garcia et al. 2020a:4). For
the authors, relationships have a causal agency and occur before objects; hence,
farmers are farmers because of their relations with the land. The interaction of these
spaces (farms/communities/forest/city) or entities (humans/non-humans/spiritual
world) is fundamental to their formation (constitution) their “becoming” farmers.
Therefore, the Amazon can only be understood if we consider the human activity that
has shaped her landscape (Ross 2017). Hence, these relations are the characteristic of
the existence of humanature (in this case womenature an understanding of women
that is inseparable from nature), as Hertz et al. (2020:330), reflects,
can we really understand and explain what a social-ecological landscape is without taking
into account constantly changing past and present processes of interaction, that at any moment
influence, support, enable and conditionand ultimately define what the communities and the
forest are?
Although the processes unfold in different ways, they are, recursive: product and
producer of the context. In this case, the colonial relations that profoundly altered
traditional women’s lives become an ongoing process, with the unfolded events from
(neo)colonization (Box 1.). From the reconfiguration of new possibilities, processes
create the present moment, and it reverberates in time and space creating new
processes (or possible new futures). “Becoming” farmer finds then a place in the
middle of the changes, it is a process that never ends. The processes of change
become a fundamental element to understand these women, their actions and/or lack
of them. Moreover, it places nature as an entity of equal importance because of its
entangled characteristics and the need for an intrinsic ontological understanding
The process-relational perspective recognizes the decolonial perspective of becoming
womenature and vice-versa from colonial relations that dehumanized their bodies
(Lugones 2010), but that simultaneously acknowledges women’s agency throughout
their daily-resistances. Furthermore, it brings justice to the Global South and the
communal-self-understanding, where the “I” is, in fact, a “we”. Moreover, SES
research’s decolonial position is fundamental to consider ecological damage as
constituting violent political relations (Murdock 2017). The decolonial approach is
also essential to deconstruct a “colonial” image of the woman of the south and set
who they are in a political sphere (Lugones 2010), as by being Latina, indigenous,
Afro or mestiza is to exist towards women’s liberation. Therefore, a process-relational
perspective is intrinsic to the decolonial thinking and help to understand the formation
of places and people, in this case, womenature, represented here by the Amazon
Forest. To make sense of the multiple roles and identities that my collaborators are
part of, I apply the concept of “dwelling in the border” (Anzaldúa 1987), that I will
here call “betweenness” – the living in between rural-urban or traditional-modern.
Decoloniality highlights community-based forms of life including communal ways of
thoughts, life, living in the world, which also reflects a relational ontology (Mignolo
and Escobar 2010). The communal “lifestyle” can be found in ‘community feminism’
(Paredes 2008), in the identities of women of the Amazon (Gargallo 2014), and in the
struggles of peasant women (dos Santos Calaça et al. 2018). Regarding the relational
ontologies about nature, Mignolo and Escobar (2010), offer an interesting view, where
nature is conceived of as sentient entities (see also Krenak 2020), nature is an actor
that participates in our daily life, as well as in the political arena. For a detailed
overview about decoloniality see Box 1.
Representation of the concepts
To conclude, these perspectives constitute a conceptual framework for thinking with
my collaborators in answering my questions (Figure 2). The changes that have been
occurring due to different colonial processes through history contributed to co-
shaping the place, the Amazon Forest, and forming women.
Figure 2. The process-relational perspective allows focusing on the event that
happened in time and space, the colonisation, unfollowed other colonial processes
(events), an ongoing process, which is changing landscape, relations, and the life of
women. Rural women are farmers because of their practices (or relationship) in the
landscape, which is conceived as a causal agency. These are embodied practices, and
because of the constant changes this womenature are now dwelling in the border or
living in a state of betweenness.
Case study description
In this section, I describe the background of the case study (Yin 2009), which is part
of the AGENTS Project (Amazonian Governance to Enable Transformations to
and took place in the Santarém metropolitan region, which
encompasses three municipalities, Santarém, Belterra and Mojuí dos Campos (Figure
3) located in an area called the new arc of deforestation
. Developed further in the
Sampling section, p. 19.
Figure 3.
Western Amazon of Pará past and present colonial processes
In line with my research approach, I will offer a detailed presentation of the case
study, including the region’s colonial history by using the historical systematization
provided by Pereira (2012:15-18). The Amazon was seen as a strategic stock of
This research is part of the project Amazonian Governance to Enable Transformations to
Sustainability (AGENTS), more information on p. 44.
The term known as the arc of deforestation comprises the region where the highest rates of
deforestation in the Amazon are found. It is a territory that concentrates approximately 75% of the
deforestation. A recent study with official PRODES/INPE data shows that new municipalities are
emerging in the arc pressuring a new frontier of deforestation.
Figure 3. Metropolitan region of Santarém alongside Belterra and Mojuí dos Campo minicipalities green
figure (Cortes et al. 2020).
Translation of subtitles (from the top-down): Municipal headquarters; Communities; Main highways; Study
area; Settlements; Hydrograph; Municipal limits; Conservation Units.
natural resources and its lands and the ways of life of its people considered
disposable, a dynamic that destroyed or disrupted the pre-existing ways of life in the
name of the demands of the international market since the beginning of the last
century. Santarém is a place for the local elite today, and the cities of Belterra and
Mojuí dos Campos function as the periphery of this Metropolitan Region (Gomes et
al. 2017), supplying the centre with its labour and natural resources. Although this is
not an institutionalized formation, it follows the patterns in establishing a central
public power, with the expansion of the public machinery and strengthening private
The region started in 1928 when Henry Ford built the city of Belterra to start the
syringe plantation, after an unsuccessful attempt in Fordlândia city. This was possible
through alliances between the federal government, Amazonian oligarchies, and
international capital. Today, the presence of agribusiness in the region, its processes
of the territorialization of capital and the monopolization of the territory were
standardized through the narrative of the need for “progress” and the promotion of
“economic development”, which includes processes of patronage or clientelism. The
concept of clientelism is associated with the concept of coronelismo, a fundamental
element for the Republic of Oligarchies (Old Republic), which has perpetuated until
today as a peculiar form of private power of influence (Leal 2012).
Food and commodity production in the region
The food production in Brazil has undergone a profound process of changes resulting
from investments in technology and science in the agricultural sector. This represents
a significant step forward in producing commodities to serve global trade (Delgado
and Bergamasco 2017). In the Santarém metropolitan region, the production of crops
and pasture has increased significantly in recent years (Figure 4). Cargill's Bulk
Terminal is the second largest in terms of export volume in Brazil and is in the city of
Santarém; it has been operating in the region since 2003, acquiring almost all
agricultural production in neighbouring municipalities and states (Figure 4, 5, and 6),
such as Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul.
The commodification of agriculture coexists with the traditional and significant
production of family farming, which was recognized by the State, Law No.
11.326/2006, which guaranteed the visibility of this type of agriculture and access to
public policies, but also threaten other social identities and subjects making them
invisible, such as indigenous, artisanal fishers, among others (Delgado and
Bergamasso 2017). This is the context in which we find agroecological women of this
case study, who act as a force of political, social, and gendered resistance. These
women work individually with mutual support through associations and social
movements and form a network of local solidarity, focusing on sustainable regional
development that has, as its main characteristic the fight against toxic agribusiness.
Figure 4.
Prepared by Monteiro Tourne, D. (Agents, 2020).
Figure 5.
Prepared by Monteiro Tourne, D. (Agents, 2020).
Land use
and cover
Data: LULC
Maps prepared by
Tourne, D. (2020)
Figure 6.
Image 6. Exported products:
1201 - Soy, also crushed soy 57%; 1005 Corn 32%; 4409 Others 7,3%.
Imported products: 3104 Mineral or chemical fertilizers 34%;
3105 - Mineral or chemical fertilizers 24%;
3102 Mineral or chemical fertilizers 19%;
3103 Mineral or chemical fertilizers 15 %;
Others 2,4%.
Prepared by Monteiro Tourne, D. (Agents, 2020).
Methodological approach
I use decoloniality-as-praxis throughout the research process as a way of imagining
and acting other ways to do a research, in which can be more meaningful and
functional in countries of the South, considering its epistemic roots and historical
contexts. Thinking as an object and subject of research “needs a radical compassion
that reaches out, that seeks collaboration, and that is open to possibilities” (Smith
1997:xvi) - to do so, I constant reflect on this as a collective methodological liberation
process by asking these questions: Is my work reinforcing structural racism,
heteropatriarchal norms, and classicism through my attempt at non-existent
objectivity? Who is this for? as Paulo Freire (1970:60) states “those who
authentically commit themselves to the people must constantly re-examine
themselves”, in this case, me.
Positionality: Quem eu sou - Who I am.
Positioning is fundamental in feminist and decolonial perspectives; the assumption is
that women build meanings in ways that cannot be thoroughly investigated from
another gender perspective (Mignolo and Escobar 2010). Moreover, by providing
information about my cultural background, I attempt to reclaim my genealogy and
position as a mestiza concerning my ancestors (Martin, 2003, cited in Bull 2016). I
am a descendant of Indigenous people in Brazil and Europeans, so I identify myself as
a mestiza, in the middle of two cultures. Back in Sweden, I am an immigrant, Latina,
with a different ethnic-onto-epistemology, but white, therefore, still privileged. This
can be considered a border thinking (Anzaldúa 1987), the life moving in between,
which can also be compared, in certain extend, to what Du Bois (1903), and later
Fanon (1952), theorized about Double Consciousness, a self-formation of a divided
cultural identity in a racialized world. I write from someone who experiences the
reality of minorities; however, my experiences are different from women in Pará. My
intention is not to speak for them, rather learn from them and write from the
standpoint of solidarity.
Decoloniality in Research Design
My communal thinking is deeply rooted in the prospect of being a sentipensante”, a
person who tries to unite the mind with the heart, to guide life in the right way and to
endure its many stumbles (Borda 1987). The Colombian social scientist Orlando Fals
Borda and Paulo Freire are considered essential in creating a Latin American
decolonial pedagogy. They have inspired this research in the principles of PAR
(Borda 1987). Therefore, collective action focuses on the praxis of the methodological
liberation process from practice and theory, through the mutual concern to be better
understood. Hence, this essay attempts to co-create our own Latin American “folk
science” (Borda and Mora-Osejo 2007).
To do this practically, collaborators and I rely on mutual participation and reflection;
we talk informally about the situation of women in the social and political spheres and
the challenges and alternatives that we live in - I am interested in them, they in me.
These conversations took place in different spaces, at fairs, social gatherings and in
their homes. It also served to promote self-reflection about our realities, knowledge,
and solutions that we seek and put into practice every day. We also held focus groups
and in-depth, semi-structured interviews - and, finally, I conducted participant
observation working with them in their daily practices.
The validity criteria pertinent to this type of research follow Boda’s orientation on the
PAR (1987), in which inductive/deductive reasoning can be derived from common
sense. Here I used the abductive approach, in which “neither followed the pattern of
pure deduction nor of pure induction” (van Hoek 2005, p. 135), but is the inference of
the best explanation (Sober 2020). This is a suitable approach as we live in constant
changes, living our relational processes in a continuous adaptation in these complex
systems. From the empathic involvement in these processes or the vivencias”, I
critically evaluated during the fieldwork the possible results together with the
collaborators through conversations (Borda 1987).
Thus, the decolonial methods are fundamental to
understand and feel different onto-epistemologies
that encompass our sociocultural realities (Figure 6).
What you see depends on the methods you use, says
artist Thomas Medicus in his sculpture “The Head
Instructor”. This qualitative research integrates a more
subjective and dynamic humanature experience, which
allows me to understand and see the world through this
dynamic lens, as (Hertz and Garcia, 2019:9) show it
“based on the premise that being is dynamic and that
the dynamic nature of being should be the primary
focus of any comprehensive philosophical account of
reality and our place within it”. However, to follow
this approach epistemic disobedience is necessary
(Mignolo 2009), and this can have academic
consequences, especially when it comes to the bias
yet, Borda (1991) as well as Foucault (1980),
considered that knowledge is never neutral, since it
carries the class and values of a group and tends to
favor those who produce them.
Figure 6. - Head Instructor - by
the Austrian artist Thomas Medicus, is a sculpture made from
segments of painted and cut glass by hand, at each angle a
different image of a head is shown to the public. According to
the artist, “when you look at a person, a brain, or the world,
what you will see always depends on your perspective and the
method you use. There are always facets that will remain
fragmented or hidden when you approach only one side”
(Medicus cited in Sierzputowski 2019). I use this interactive art
as an analogy, in which each person with its own position has
its onto-epistemology, but still can see the head-world
differently. Decoloniality is the cube’s movement to see and
understand the head-world from another perspective an
activity that allows the fragmentation or deconstruction of
hegemonic thinking to learn a new perspective of the world. By
making use of decolonial thinking, instead of finding a
consensus in forming a Frankenstein that can be reproduced and
universalized, we would perceive ourselves in a pluriversal
world, “a world where many worlds fit”, to paraphrase the
Zapatistas. The author authorizes the reproduction of the
My fieldwork took place in the Santarém region in the State of Pará, Brazil. I visited
14 initiatives and social movements and five fairs (Table 1). Part of the AGENTS
team had visited the region in the first fieldwork of the project, and my first strategy
was to focus on one women’s association in the area, visited by them. The choice for
a women’s association was a decision made jointly with some members of the
projects. It was an opportunity to speak with an organized group of women living in
different areas. I contacted the coordinator of this association before starting my
fieldwork and shared with her my main ideas, she, in turn, shared their work,
challenges and how they are organizing to overcome these challenges. I visited
women living in three areas: Rural Communities (RC) where I stayed for four
weeks, a Rural Settlement (RS) where I stayed for one week, and a Conservation
Unit (CU) where I also stayed for a week. Due to the ethical commitment of
anonymity, I will not name these communities. I conducted a total of 34 semi-
structured interviews with local actors, including government agents, NGO,
academics, and 22 people who self-identify as women 19 of them identified farming
as their primary activity but all of them confirmed having either vegetable gardens
or small poultry production in their backyards (Table 2).
For this essay to be a real sentipensante”, and to comply with the ethical
commitment to think and feel with the collaborators, it was essential to define
together the criteria for participation in the study. This “organic” and participative
bond with women is a characteristic of the subversive decolonial researcher, which
reflects a conscious transgression of the rules of the hegemonic academy, features of
Freire and Borda’s life-work was described by Colares da Mota-Neto (2018), in
which allowed me to build and reassess my strategy with them. As mentioned, the
starting point was one of the women’s associations; however, almost all of them
participated in one of the three women associations or other social movements in the
region, so shifting the focus to women rather than one association was natural.
All of them were very open to collaborating in the research and, in many cases, I did
not even need to ask them to indicate a new interviewee; they called other women and
introduced me. This sampling strategy could be compared to the snowball describe by
Moser and Korstjens (2018, p. 10). In that selection, participants through referrals by
previously selected participants or persons who have access to potential participants.
Thus, it was the main reason for choosing to visit and/or interview initiatives such as
Cozinha do Sol, NGO Saúde e Alegria or EMATER. Although COVID19 outbreak in
the city prevented me from continuing my fieldwork, I had achieved a saturation point
in my data, as my interviews did not aggregate much of new information (Moser and
Korstjens 2018). Besides, this interruption allowed me to see how these women
organized themselves to deal with an uncertain and stressful situation as the
COVID19. Sales started to be online using “WhatsApp” - mutual solidarity in
obtaining products to set up “boxes” of food to be delivered were the highlights in this
situation. Moreover, this was a solidarity that I could experience myself, besides of
receiving me, when they got to know of my difficulties to return to São Paulo, they
offered me their homes to have a safe place to stay.
Table 1.
Table 2.
Interviews, narratives, and participant observation
I used semi-structured interviews, consisting mostly of open-ended questions (Kvale
1996, Yin 2013) and in-depth interviews, beneficial when you want to understand and
obtain detailed information about someone’s thoughts and behavior (Healey-Etten and
Sharp 2010). My focus was always to try to think with my collaborators, in this way, I
had a form of questions and topics for interviews (see the format and questions at
Annexes p. 51) but I started with closed and open questions about their routine -
which led me to a rich amount of data on their practices (Millwood and Heath 2000).
In this way, they could feel more comfortable to start the interview.
Indeed, I realized that many of them expressed fear of saying “something wrong” or
that they “couldn’t contribute” since they “didn’t know much”, which made me
reflect on the question of power asymmetries of knowledge, many of them would start
saying that they were “just a farmer”. My strategy was to speak the truth, “I am a
student that would love to learn what you are doing, and if you are willing to teach
me, tell me about your daily routine!” By assuming myself as a student with a genuine
curiosity about their activities and how they perform them, the collaborators felt much
more confident and at ease. The exploratory strategy was also fundamental to form a
theoretical approach that could be closer to their reality.
My participant observation took place more practically by living with women in their
homes and communities. For instance, at CU, I talked to the matriarch, a 102-years-
old lady, the community then welcomed me for a week. I started my observation
questions participating in a community party, a women’s soccer game, harvesting
fruit in the forest, bathing in the river with women and helping the employees in their
day-to-day activities. This allowed me to focus on specific situations, such as the fact
the women I followed were doing everything, taking care of the house, children, plot,
animals, going to the forest, and their gardens to collect fruits. Finally, this leads me
to a selective observation (Moser and Korstjens 2018), of the performance of these
practices that happen in their daily activity, such as the mutual help between women
trying to schedule the day and the tasks that each one had to do alone and those that
they could do together.
Focus group
I also held two focus groups, one in an association in a CU, and the second one was
held at the fair in the headquarters of FASE-Santarém, with the women from the RC
and RS regions (Table 3.). The focus group had a specific purpose in this thesis;
therefore, its analysis, occurred with collaborators while carrying it. Its material
served for the general analysis of the essay.
The focus groups were essential to developing a participatory scenario of the future,
which served to identify possible or desirable endogenous and exogenous changes
(Garcia et al. 2020a). Furthermore, I was interested in (i) accessing the meaning of the
word sustainability for them in their concepts and concerns; (ii) stimulating the
production of conversations on a specific topic; (iii) and observing the process of
collective construction of meaning in action through the thought of individual and
collective action on the construction of the sustainable future they desire (Wilkinson
1998). The structured of the focus group was inspired by the principles of Theory U
(Scharmer 2007), in which I facilitated the discussion through five steps:
1. Identifying challenges that they would like to change in the future.
2. Break patterns of resistance by inviting them to take a moment to meditate to
shift off the challenge moment and ‘suspend’ the judgment voice and redirect
them to the next step.
3. Brainstorm the meaning of sustainability according to what they understood
about it and collective discussion on how to group the words feeling and
letting go of the future’s fear.
4. Divide the group into pairs to discuss what would be a desirable sustainable
future based on the three pillars of sustainability (social, nature and
economic); finally the intention was for them to connect the themes with
their work through reflecting on the meaning of the words they just said to
reach a “crystallization” of their vision and intention.
5. They present their envisioned sustainable future and how can they actively
play a part in building it. They discussed with other participants whether they
agree or not.
Table 3.
Data analysis
I development the “hybrid form of the thematic analysis” suggested by Boyatzis
(1998:51), recommended when one group has been studied (women) to identify
meaningful themes, divided into four steps:
1. Reducing the raw information by summarising all the raw data.
2. Allowing the benefits of an inductive approach to know what emerged from
the data, yet, adopting definitions of previous research on landscape
stewardship and process-relational perspective was fundamental to create
nodes and themes such as changes, challenges, knowledge, gender, landscape
stewardship, etc.
3. Creating nodes and themes.
4. Determining the code’s reliability by asking a member of the AGENTS
project to identify in the data codes and themes from approximately 20% of
the interviews (6 interviews) to do the coding procedure.
Then we reconciled the coding schemes by debating duplications, definitions, and
excessive details. After some discussions, a final coding scheme was agreed. Also, I
went back to my data and reapplied the themes and sub-themes. Finally, I shared the
results with three women (coordinators of women’s association from each region),
who validated it.
Language, in this case, the English Language, has been the most powerful strategy to
perpetuate colonialism (Phillipson 2007, 2008, 2012, Barrantes-Montero 2018). I
must write in English; I must do that well, otherwise, my essay will not be even
acceptable to the academic standards. How to translate the conversations held in
Portuguese into a foreign language that sometimes fails to capture the meaning of
what was said, the jokes, the smiles or the silence that carries all the worlds within it?
As Van Nes et al. (2010:313) has been argued, “meaning is constructed through a
discourse between”, therefore the aiming is “to contribute to the best possible
representation and understanding of the interpreted experiences of the participants and
thereby to the validity of qualitative research”.
My ambition is to present the results in a way that is true to my collaborators' words. I
present here the main results of my thematic analysis, focusing on this thesis's
objective, to understand the role of women for landscape stewardship practices,
divided into two parts, first with the overall themes and secondly the future visions
result from the focus groups.
The three themes identified: 1) Relations, 2) Change, and 3) Hope are presented
along with the sub-themes and the quotes for women of the three regions (Rural
Communities RC, Rural Settlement RS, and Conservation Unit CU, Photo 1).
By doing that, my intention is not to compare the regions and their women, instead, I
would like to propose a reflection on each location's particularities, also because most
of the collaborators are living between these regions because of their multiple
activities. At the end of each part, there is an interpreted table of the results validated
by women's coordinator of social movement in each region. A visual representation of
the main results can be found on pg. 36.
1. Relations
Between observations and conversations with the collaborators, they explained to
me how they had another way of living and thinking, not just relating to their
plants and animals, but also regarding accumulation and consumption, as many
claims to want “just enough”, or to like to do their “little things”. Many of them
revealed that the knowledge they bring is matriarchal, especially in CU.
Photo 1. Initial steps to traditional production of andiroba oil, FLONA-Tapajós (Taís
González, 2020).
Women also reveal knowledge connected with nature, for example, through forest
medicine; usually, medicinal and ornamental plants are close to their house
(Photo 2), demonstrating a hierarchy between plant species, since those of the
distaff are further away from your home and do not require intensive care (Photo
3); and knowledge about childbirth - as midwives. However, in the three regions
they report to be fundamental, in addition to their empirical knowledge, the
knowledge that they can and acquire through contact with actors in these regions -
for example with EMATER, IPAM, UFOPA and NGOs, as we can see in Photo
4, a production with organic pesticide and coverage to protect from the sun,
implemented by professors from UFOPA.
In the three regions, they treat the relationship with the land as something positive
and caring, for example, women seek to know how to produce without
agrochemicals, also known locally as “poison”, even with the increase in pests
(and for this the contact with the partners above was considered essential),
because they want to preserve nature and the health of themselves and their
families. In the three regions, they claim to be more careful than men; in fact, care
is reported as a womens characteristic.
Photos 2, 3, and 4 are different
agroecological production leading by
women, mostly from the three region
CU, CS, and CR respectively. Photo
2 (medicinal and ornamental plants)
show a type of practices that requires
constant care; hence, it is placed close
to women’s houses. Photo 3 presents
a type production (cucumber and
maize); while Photo 4 show a plot
that was implement by UFOPA a new
type of organic defensive (Taís
González, 2020).
Interpretation of the results review by the women
Interpretation of the results review by the women
Themes and subthemes
1- Relations
Women are farmers because they work in the land.
They have another way of relating to the (local)
environment in which they live, their family, other
women, and people in their network of contacts,
and their production (including medicinal plants
and animals). They also witness the relationships
(and changes) that occur within nature.
Women care more for their families and their
production than men, whether in agriculture or caring
for animals (especially small animals like chickens
and pigs) - women are more careful than men.
Relationships also occur through knowledge and its
exchange, learning and teaching. In addition to their
practical knowledge (often learned from their
mothers), they acquire knowledge through contact
with technicians and teachers, friends and/or
neighbours, and the environment, observing the
development of plants, animals and their produce.
This exchange also brings new "formulas" to farm and
produce food.
Network (Women’s
Association and others
social movements)
Participation in women's associations has its
importance because they work with women's agendas,
they feel more freedom, confidence, and joy in being
among women. However, there are many difficulties
and challenges within the women's associations. Other
social movements include unions, churches, NGOs,
and institutions that support their production by given
agricultural assistance.
Landscapes Stwerdship
Women's narratives and acts of care and restore of the
land/forest through agroecology, agroforestry, or the
rescue of traditional knowledge such as Creole seeds.
2. Changes
Women spoke of changes negatively and positively. Everything related to the
ecological change was negative in the three regions unless they presented a new way
of producing, such as agroecological production or reforestation. The shift for a more
organized selling process was also pointed out in the three regions as something
positive (Photo 7). The only product that is an exception is the cassava flour; many
had already made flour to consume and to sale. Social changes regard in their
communities in the three locations are seen negatively. In CR and CS, they connect
landscape changes (deforestation and abandonment of communities) with the large-
scale soy and/or cattle producers. In CU, they talked about changes in communities as
a "lifestyle" change.
Challenges directly influence them, and it can lead to changes, the challenges are
different in the regions. CR connects the challenges with the large-scale soy producers
(Photo 8), CS connects its most significant challenges to the large-scale cattle
producers and the lack of infrastructure. Finally, CU relates its challenges to soy
producers and the legal and illegal extraction of wood. In the three regions, the
distance was unanimously identified as a significant challenge, mainly to sell their
Photo 8. Children playing in front of the soy
plantation, Belterra, PA (Taís González, 2020).
Photo 7. Women farmers selling their products through
partnerships with social movements in the Santarém
region (Taís González, 2020).
Interpretation of the results review by the women
Themes and sub-
2- Changes
All types of changes
Changes in production to adapt women's lives to their
multiple activities, for example, planting seedlings close to
the house, or changes related to ecological or social changes,
what to produce and how. Also, produce with diversity -
looking for new recipes and ways to produce. It includes
changes in response to the COVID19, for example, using
more technologies (communication apps) for sales and the
solidarity reorganization among women, which was
observed at the end of the fieldwork.
Empowerment of women through economic independence;
and the solidarity of women in their relationships, through
mutual help is seen as positive. But there is also a change in
the relationship with money, an increase of dependence on
projects and an overvaluation of a different lifestyle - those
are negative views.
It includes the historical context and the impact of the
expansion of soy and livestock production on social
organization and its consequences, such as the immigration
of large producers and the migration of farmers to cities and
the increase in the use of pesticides also by small farmers.
One positive thing is the growing repositioning of women
within their families and communities, with more voice and
recognition of their rights.
There are fewer wild animals (also birds and bees), fish
decreasing in size and quantity, higher temperatures, less
rain, more insects, new diseases in production (such as in
black pepper), reduced biodiversity, and forest.
2.1 Challenges
It includes direct and indirect challenges for women - which
can be conflicts or just have a conflictual aspect.
It is a challenge to be a woman. There are many challenges
between men and women in the family, in the fields and
social movements. Also, the violence suffered by women in
all aspects and places just because they are women.
It is a challenge to stay in their territories; there is a lot of
pressure from the big producers of soy or cattle;
communities lack infrastructure and distance is a big
problem for sales and sometimes production.
There are fewer wild animals (also birds and bees), fish
decreasing in size and quantity, higher temperatures, less
rain, more insects, new diseases in production (such as in
black pepper), reduced biodiversity, and forest.
3. Hope
One of the findings’ surprises was the element of hope, which clearly showed up in
conversations with women. Women hope and act for a better future in their territories,
but also in small things a hope in action and can see in photo 9, in which small
feminist messages are left on the sale stands with the women’s product for their
consumers to pick them up. At all times and in all three regions when talking about
domestic conflicts, challenges related to social movements, or large-scale producers -
they manage to reverse their thinking by hoping that their situation will get better with
“faith in God”. There is hope for better days while they continue “doing their part”,
by “fighting”, or “resisting” - words that are constant in the collaborators’ narratives.
Photo 9. Translation of notes:“When I want to empower myself, I think of the strong women who
came before me and the path they opened for my freedom and for me to be who I am”.
Feminism is not about making women strong. Women are already strong. It is about changing the
way the world views this strength”, G.D. Anderson.
Notes produced to be distributed at the FASE women's fairs in Santarém - a space dedicated only
for women producers to sell (Taís González, 2020).
Interpretation of the results review by the women
Themes and sub-
3- Hope
General desire to improve the lifestyle of women, which
usually involves processes of resistance and faith.
Something they are doing; hope is an action!
Collective Action
The desire for a better organization in social movements,
desire for more active and true participation of women to
improve their productions and the lives of their families
and communities, more transparency and better
relationships within communities or groups (women/family
Projects / Partnership
Improve access to resources through public policies or
social movements (associations and/or NGOs). More
partnerships with universities, cooperatives and civil
society as a whole.
More sales points and production valorisation.
The desire for greater care for nature (plot and forest) and
alternative production practices without pesticides.
Visual Representation of my main results
Figure 7. Relationships take place a priori and
build women as the basis of their lives. Constant
changes can be the result of the challenges they
face and can be perceived positively or
negatively. Changes can strengthen relationships
or weaken them. To face these constant negative
changes and challenges, women use hope in
action, strengthened by positive changes and
their relationships.
Focus Groups Results
The focus group results have a considerable capacity to identify possible or desirable
endogenous and exogenous changes in women’s paths and to identify processes that
are moving towards change. To think about a sustainable future, we start by thinking
about what is not right and the challenges they face that somehow affect them and
their work as farmers, described in the first box “Challenges”. The collaborators from
CU (Photo 10.) were more concerned about the communities’ internal issues; while
the collaborators from CR and CS (Photo 11.) identify the challenges presented by
agribusiness and the lack of infrastructure as most significant.
The desired sustainable future - the words they used to describe what is sustainability
from them was grouped with them in the three pillars of sustainability. The three
themes present results with relational perspectives, in which women realise that they
need these “themes” to survive and thrive. Lastly, from the first two reflections, they
presented the future they wanted, the question that permeated was: “How can you
contribute to building the future you want.” The future is centred on the
strengthening of social relationships for them to exercise their work with farmers
and/or their resistance by putting in practice what they can do for a better future.
The environment was pointed out as a concern directly connected to their life. They
were responsible for taking care of the environment in which they live through the
care of the forest (reforestation and garbage collection) and or “poison-free”
agriculture. This is something they must do to be happy in the future.
The economy, despite having been the first reaction of the two groups (words that
were spoken in the brainstorm was related to the economy, as “money” or “selling
more”), this theme was not as developed and debated as the other two ones. Still, they
want an economy that respects nature. While CU thinks of an economy totally related
to nature through forest extractivism, the RC and RS think of an economy concerning
nature through agroecology.
Photo 10. Focus group at CU.
Photo 11. Focus group with women
from RC and RS.
RQ1. What is the role of women in landscape stewardship practices in the
Women are fundamental in landscape stewardship practices, for that. This study
presented that women carry an ancestral matriarchal knowledge, which greatly
influences how they take care of the land and in their household activities. This
specific knowledge is shared amongst women and can be exchanged and
complemented by their networks and environment (Mellegård and Boonstra 2020).
Women are considered to take better care of their family and their production plot,
which differentiates what they do from what their partners or sons do in that way,
care is gendered. It is not in this essay’s scope to understand if the care is a choice or
not; this would be an invitation for further studies.
This brings to the surface two points of reflection: first, these women play a
fundamental role in stewardship practices, and second, understanding this can be
essential for understanding in-depth stewardship practices. First, as they perceive
deforestation and the use of pesticides as harmful, they seek alternatives to care for
the land, either by reforesting or through agroecological practices; they show a
womenature (decolonial-process-relational) perspective to thinking about the solution
as they understand it will be good for them in the future, but also, to understanding the
problem. MA8 (RS) said, when she explained to me how the use of pesticide could be
harmful to humans, “for you to see how strong this poison is, the earth itself cannot
grow anything anymore there [where she put once the pesticide to kill grass]. Now
can you imagine, how does it look inside a human being?”. Second, despite having
been pointed out as something essential, money does not have equal importance with
their lives and the lives of their families, which suggests that women could be more
persistent on carrying out stewardship practices, even at a financial cost.
Traditional women are immersed in a vast network of relationships with where they
live (nature, place, and the spiritual world), with their family, with other women and
with their production (including medicinal plants and animals). These relationships,
including are perceived as essential to resist in their territory, which can be framed as
an ‘embodied’ connection, suggesting that humans are immersed in their environment
mentally, materially and physically (Cooke et al. 2016) this is particularly important
in the case of women, that they build these connections not only for their social
relationships but also as a survival strategy. Still, this is a foreign perspective, the
process-relational perspective can here be compared to the decolonial understanding
(indigenous and traditional) that “connections” are not an action between two entities,
but rather an intrinsic existence - relationships form people and places. These
relationships are also made of the spiritual world and the entities of the forest os
encantados (the enchanted).
RQ2. How can these practices contribute in an innovative way to food diversity
and biodiversity conservation in the region?
In an environment of constant and perennial changes, innovating becomes a recurring
action. The reconfiguration of products and elements of nature contributes to food
diversity, which occurs mainly through the reconfiguration of nature elements such as
the production of açaí coffee, different types of cassava flour, breads, jams, juices,
spices, among others. The collaborators usually experiment with new “formulas” in
the production of foods –as explained by MA14 (RS), “each one has their curiosity
and knowledge; then we end up sharing our knowledge. A formula ends up, and
everyone wants to test it! For example, I come and say look what I did, and I did it
like that, and then the other one will do it. But each one also has its formula, and each
one tests differently, too”.
These process of trial and error, evolution, relationships, and observance, is also seen
within nature and not only contributes to food diversity but also the local biodiversity,
which can be better understood with the process-relational perspective, as it brings the
reasoning of causal agency (Garcia et al. 2020a) women farmers are women because
of their relations with the land. The landscape thus became such because of the
relationship with itself, and with humans. As noted in Traditional Agricultural
Systems (SAT), as the Rio Negro, in the Upper Amazon, which enriches the local
biodiversity and its characteristic of co-adaptation between farmers and landscapes
(Cunha 2014, Almeida and Udry 2019). Finally, changes in the landscape impacting
traditional women’s lives and can have an impact on their production. Thus, they
proactively seek alternatives to overcome the new challenges, mainly through their
network of relationships.
RQ3. What are the processes that can facilitate or restrict women's individual or
collective agency?
Socioecological relationships have the potential to facilitate individual or collective
agency of women, through the exchange of knowledge with their networks and their
caring connections with the environment in which they are embedded. Challenges can
restrict women’s agency and negatively impact their lives. For instance, the effect of
the region’s migratory movement. The influx of large producers increases the pressure
on the smaller ones to migrate to urban centres. This is perceived negatively by the
older generation, whereas the new generation generally wants to move to cities.
The process-relational perspective allows a focus on the colonial processes, an
ongoing influence, that is changing the landscape, their relations, and women’s lives.
Women are living in ‘betweenness’, being oppressed but exerting their resistance
(Anzaldúa, 1987) through the ‘embodied stewards’ acts’. Moreover, being a rural
woman is a “political act” (Lugones 2010), that they are proud of, they recognise that
they are an epistemic subject that coexistence with many worlds. Simultaneously,
processes of cultural and ecological redefinitions are happening all the time in their
territory. Women are fighting for individual rights and collective rights for family
farming and their communities. It is not in this essay’s scope to analyse the depth,
intensity and intentions of these actions and narratives.
Although decolonial advocates for reasoning that challenges the logic of hegemonic
thinking of “dichotomous and hierarchical categories” (Lugones 2010:935), the
relationship between the collaborators and their plants and animals suggests a
hierarchy, while some plants are only for food and do not require much care, others,
such as medicinal plants or ornamental plants have another important and need a
“special care” and can be found around their houses. Agency, the capacity to
autonomously make decisions and take actions is a dormant ability that can be
triggered by self-organization (Davidson 2013, cited in Secco 2015). Relationships
with other women and their “human”-network are fundamental to their agency and
have the potential of strengthening their empowerment, which can occur through the
participation in social movements such as women’s association, cooperatives, or
unions. The increased participation of women inside their communities and social
movements is something that Escobar (2017:16) called “as processes of
However, it is necessary to observe the asymmetry between worlds related to this
environment of pressure and oppression. Even within agroecological fairs, there is a
tendency for the individual capitalist way of thinking to override the principles of
solidarity economy upheld by of these fairs, as MA12 said, “we have to be careful not
to romanticize too much this cooperation between them [women] because it will be
lost at some point. For example, here at the fair, what we are reinforcing this year are
the principles of solidarity economy, this fair has a political stamp, we are the
resistance! We are not here at the fair just to sell products, but also to be a space for
the family farming to show itself.” Furthermore, competition between women and the
replication of forms of power, in addition to the political and impractical use of
agroecology, also follows this same logic. Even under the impacts of modernity and
hegemonic socio-economic processes, these peoples maintain their cultural and
spiritual practices associated with natural landscapes (Merçon et al. 2019). This can
also be seen through their “hope in action” from a noun to verb (Hertz et al. 2020), the
desired future that includes the stewardship of nature and social relations is happening
also now and influences their agency (what they do and why). Therefore, a
fundamental attribute that contributes to facilitating womens agency is the very
condition of hope, which is essential for them to act and resist in their territories.
What can we learn from them?
The most recent women’s movements have been heavily involved in political
reflections on the almost impossible decoupling of decolonization from the
“depatriarcalization” of thought, knowledge, and structures (Verschuur and
Destremau 2012). For this reason, the movements, relations, and practices of women
in the region play a fundamental role in resisting ideological, political, economic,
environmental and social orders linked to the commodification of land, food and
nature, in addition to challenging traditional social roles. Offering new possibilities
and hope for a possible future, starting today. On the question of hope and its
importance, Freire (1992:105-106) once wrote about his relationship with one of his
students, “it [hope] increased my responsibility because I realized that, in my hope, he
was seeking support for his. What he may not have known is that I needed him as
much as he needed me. The struggle for hope is permanent, and it becomes intensified
when one realizes it is not a solitary struggle”.
From the results of focus groups, women also showed that they could contribute to a
sustainable future by resisting and “doing their part”. Thinking in a decolonial-
process-relational way about socioecological relations can illuminate how the
Amazon Forest has shaped these women and how these women have shaped the
Amazon Forest for thousands of years. Thus, if we think that women are today in a
state of “between” in this movement of “becoming” which, in this context means
resistance from their practices, it can be said that the Amazon Forest experiences this
same process. The Amazon Forest is “betweenness” and is “becoming” something;
however, the “becoming” of the Amazon Forest may indicate its savanization
(Lovejoy and Nobre 2019).
Methodological and ethical reflections
This essay is based on the self-assessment of traditional rural women, which can
entail uncertainty in the results. As Zylstra et al. (2014) show, there is a fundamental
uncertainty in self-report measures. This is to be kept in mind when looking at the
results, especially regarding stewardship desires for the future. At the same time, there
were many reports of women saying that their partners use a type of pesticide (such as
killing grass or mata-mato), or using the social movements as a tool to access social
projects, others said that, despite identifying themselves as farmers, they do not live
primarily off agriculture anymore. This reflects their “betweenness” situation but
requires a deeper reflection on women’s searching for autonomy in a place where
“brutal forms of extractive globalization are being resisted” (Escobar 2018:16).
Following the positioning of the Anzaldúa (1987) borderlands, I move between
worlds - also needing to build bridges that serve as home and community for me, an
onto-epistemology of empathy, embodied thinking and thinking with resistance
(Lugones 2010), or as Borda and Moncayo (2009) theorize, a “sentipensiante” (fell
and think at the same time. This is not to say that mestiza reflects the myth of
authentic cultures, which in reality never existed Jean-Loup Amselle (2008 cited in
Mignolo and Escobar 2008), but instead reaffirming that this is a natural process of
“becoming”, in where people can find their “betweenness” identity.
From a decolonial point of view, my positioning affects all aspects of the research
process, so I made use of a critical reflection to locate myself in the field to explore
the nature of my relationship with the collaborators and address the dynamics of
identity politics and my position in the field (Manning 2018). The critical reflection
approach places me at the centre of this analysis. However, the I” goes around a
collective self of racialized Latin American women, an attempt to not just to include
their voices in my essay, but to make this essay the very result of the fusion of this
process of learning also part of a PAR (Borda 1987). The critical reflection approach
puts me at the centre of the analysis, which may clash with scientific standards.
Nevertheless, this is a feminist writing stance based on relationality rather than
substantiality, in which it is a praxis not just in feminist studies (Neuman 2007), but
also to the “approach to the otherness at the heart of postcolonial or decolonial ethics”
(Verschuur and Destremau 2012:9).
This is essay is based on collaborators views and voices an attempt for a more faithful
interpretation possible was made. Therefore, constant changes were necessary. My
initial conceptualization revolved around knowledge, women's self-determination
(initially thinking of indigenous peoples, more than traditional ones), and innovation.
However, as explained later, they desired to expose the challenges, practices, and
hope that the future will be better for them, so my conceptualization also evolved.
Finally, the practice of critical reflection, in which there is no hierarchy of
interdependence, also includes the Amazon Forest as an entity, who participates in this
relational onto-epistemological thinking by being the reason of the study.
In a setting dominated by pressure and oppression, where large-scale farmers are
leading economic, environmental, and social changes, inequalities are being
perpetuated. Thus, identification and understanding of the womenature’s role to
guarantee food and biocultural diversity are imperative in a world of constant changes
and face of eminent jeopardies of the Amazon forest. This study showed further the
importance of women and their knowledge for landscape stewardship in the Amazon,
which can lead to an in-depth understanding of this concept. Furthermore, even under
the impacts of modernity and hegemonic socio-economic processes of change, these
women maintain their cultural and spiritual practices associated with nature, which
can be seen through their “hope in action” – the desired future that includes the
stewardship and social relations happening now.
All the entangled processes of actions and reactions represent the relational life of
these womenature, with the care as the core of their “betweenness”; therefore, studies
that address gender issues in landscape stewardship are necessary. Other
recommendations for further studies would be a feminist approach to critically reflect
on why care is considered a feminine characteristic, which would be fundamental to
redirect stewardship studies in similar contexts. Finally, if the characteristic of the
Amazon’s constitution is intrinsic with the existence of human beings, non-humans,
spiritual beings and the forest, what would mean the absence of one of these
elements? The social tipping point of the Amazon Forest is inseparable from Her
ecological tipping point and vice versa.
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Interview Guide
Briefly (re)explain the project and the purpose of the interview - Read PLS and after
Consent Form signed. Time of interview - approximately 45 minutes.
Key Informants (stakeholders, project partners, social movements’ leaders, etc):
1. Tell me about yourself. How are you involved in issues related to land use and land
use change? [planning, regulations, agriculture, conservation work, etc.]
2. Considering your experience, would you recognize innovative actions / aspects led
by women that occur in the region where you work? Could you list them?
2.1 For each innovative action / aspect you have listed:
2.1.1 Why are you innovative? / interesting / important / new
2.1.2 How would you describe it? Why was it created, what are the context and
conditions that led to it?
2.1.3 Where it was designed and its scale (please provide details of the locations).
2.1.4 How do you see the role of women and the knowledge of women in these
innovative practices?
3. What is the potential role that women's knowledge could play in land use and / or
4. What are the important platforms to support these initiatives?
5. Why are these platforms important?
6. What is the role of contact networks among women?
7. What are the ways to support these networks and what additional activities might
be needed?
8. In the examples you gave, what are the challenges encountered?
8.1 How have these challenges been or are they being overcome?
8.2 What can be the strategies to overcome them.
9. What are the factors that can facilitate these initiatives and women's innovations?
10. What is the role of women's biocultural knowledge and its connections in creating
innovative practices?
10.1 What could this develop and grow?
11. What is the transformative aspect of women's practices?
12. Would you like to add any information, data or points that I did not mention?
1. Tell me about yourself. What are your main activities / practices that you engage
1.1 How often do you get involved in each one of them?
1.2 How did you learn about these activities?
1.3 Do you consider these activities a sustainable livelihood? Why?
1.4 Why do you perform these activities?
1.5 What are the traditional values involved / redeemed in the activity (ies) you do?
1.6 What practices did you perform previously? Have you change something in the
way you produce?
2. How do you see the role of women's knowledge in these practices?
2.1 In these activities, does it matter that you and your colleagues are women? How
and why? What does a woman accomplish differently from a man? How is the work
of women different from the men?
2.2 What is the difference from a women's association to a mixed association?
3. What do you think are (are) the actions and/or the innovative aspects in what you
3.1 Why is this innovative (for you)? New / important / interesting?
3.2 How would you describe this? Why was it created, what are the context and
conditions that led to it?
4. What is the transformative aspect of these practices?
5. What are the conditions that can facilitate or restrict your agency or the women’
agency for effective participation in these practices?
5.1 What strategies are you using to overcome these challenges?
5.2 How is the issue of geographic distribution for you? Does this, in any way,
facilitate your participation in social movements or not? And in your own
production/sale? What about access to public policies?
6. What is the role of women's connections and platforms in creating their
contribution to sustainability (or for you in general)?
7. Would you like to add some information, data or points that I did not mention and
it is important for you? Or do you have any question?
Guia da entrevista
Informantes-chave (partes interessadas, parceiros do projeto, líderes de movimentos
sociais, etc.):
(Re)explicar resumidamente o projeto e o objetivo da entrevista (PLS) Assine o
Termo de Consentimento. Tempo da entrevista - aproximadamente 45 minutos.
1. Conte-me sobre você. Como você está envolvido em questões relacionadas ao
uso e à mudança do uso da terra? [planejamento, regulamentos, agricultura,
trabalho pela conservação, etc.]
2. Considerando sua experiência, você reconheceria ações/aspectos inovadores
liderados por mulheres que ocorrem na região na qual você trabalha? Você
poderia listá-los?
2.1 Para cada ação/aspecto inovador que você listou:
2.1.1 Por que é inovador? / interessante / importante / novo
2.1.2 Como você o descreveria? Por que foi criado, quais são o contexto e as
condições que levaram a isso?
2.1.3 Onde foi concebido e qual a sua escala (forneça detalhes dos locais).
2.1.4 Como você vê o papel da mulher e o conhecimento das mulheres nessas
práticas inovadoras?
3. Qual é o papel potencial que o conhecimento das mulheres poderia
desempenhar no uso da terra e/ou meios de subsistência?
4. Quais são as plataformas importantes para apoiar essas iniciativas?
5. Por que essas plataformas são importantes?
6. Qual é o papel das redes de contato entre as mulheres?
7. Quais são as formas de apoiar essas redes e quais são as atividades adicionais
que poderiam ser necessárias?
8. Nos exemplos que você deu, quais são os desafios encontrados?
8.1 Como esses desafios foram ou estão sendo superados?
8.2 Quais podem ser as estratégias para superá-los.
9. Quais são os fatores que podem facilitar essas iniciativas e as inovações das
10. Qual é o papel do conhecimento tradicional das mulheres e suas conexões para
a criação de práticas inovativas?
10.1 Qual isso poderia se desenvolver e crescer?
11. Qual é o aspecto transformador das práticas das mulhers?
12. Você gostaria de adicionar alguma informação, dados ou pontos que eu não
Guia da entrevista - Colaboradoras
(Re)explicar resumidamente o projeto e o objetivo da entrevista (PLS) Assine o
Termo de Consentimento. Tempo da entrevista - aproximadamente 45 minutos.
1. Conte-me sobre você. Quais são as principais atividades/práticas que você se
envolve em relação à floresta, agricultura, produção de alimentos?
1.1 Com que frequência você se envolve em cada uma delas?
1.2 Como você aprendeu sobre essas atividades?
1.3 Você considera essas atividades meios de subsistência sustentáveis? Por
1.4 Porque você realiza essas atividades?
1.5 Quais são os valores tradicionais envolvidos / resgatados na(s) atividade(s)
que você faz?
1.6 Quais práticas vocês realizava anteriormente?
2. Como você vê o papel do conhecimento das mulheres nessas práticas?
2.1 Nestas atividades, importa que você e seus colegas sejam mulheres? Como
e por quê? O que a mulher realiza diferente do homem? Como a produção
da mulher é diferente da produção do homem?
2.2 Qual a diferença de uma associação só de mulheres para uma associação
mista ou só de homens?
3. O que você acha que é (são) as ações e/ou os aspectos inovadores no que você
3.1 Por que isso é inovador (para você)? Novo / importante / interessante
3.2 Como você descreveria isso? Por que isso foi criado, quais são o contexto
e as condições que levaram a isso?
4. Qual é o aspecto transformativo dessas práticas?
5. Quais são as condições que podem facilitar ou restringir sua agência ou a
agência da associação para uma participação efetiva nessas práticas?
5.1 Quais são as estratégias que você está usando para superar esses desafios?
5.2 Como é a questão da distribuição geográfica para você? Isso, de alguma
forma, facilita ou não a sua participação nos ovimentos sociais? E na sua
própria produção/venda? E no acesso de políticas públicas?
6. Qual é o papel das conexões e plataformas das mulheres na criação da
contribuição delas para a sustentabilidade?
7. Você gostaria de adicionar algumas informações, dados ou pontos que eu não
mencionei e que são importantes para você? Ou você tem alguma pergunta?
Plain Language Statement
Project initial title: Women, Knowledge, and Innovation for sustainability - the circle
of reconciliation in the Amazon
Main researcher: Taís Sonetti González
CONTACT: +46 76 22 51 759 (WhatsApp) or
Supervisors: Maria Tengö, Wijnand Boonstra and Jamila Haider
Responble in Brazil: Daiana C. M. Tourne (19) 97143-
Social-Ecological Resilience for Sustainable Development at Stockholm Resilience
Centre, Stockholm University
You are being invited to take part in a research study. Before you decide it is
important you understand why the research is being done and what it will involve.
Please ask if anything is not clear or if you would like more information.
Forest degradation in the Amazon contrasts with a range of individual and collective
sustainable production practices developed by local agents, known as “pieces of
solutions”. These initiatives have the potential to reconcile conservation and local
development goals such as quality of life, conservation, and more inclusive economic
development. The aim of the project is to assess individual and collective promising
transformation practices of land-use in the Amazon, from the extractive model to a
more sustainable land-use practices. But how does women is contributing to be
“pieces of solutions” for biodiversity and biocultural diversity conservation? To find
out I would like to spend some time with you, in your work/fields and your home over
the next days.
I would like to audio-record some of our conversations is that ok with you? Any
information you provide me will be used only without your name Results.
Rural women relate in their daily lives with the environment (place) where they live,
but also with their family, with other women, and with their production (including
medicinal plants and animals). Still, they are not only an active entity, they are also
passive and witnesses of the relationships that occur around them. Therefore, they are
part of a network that relate and act, human-environment, human-human, human-
nature, environment-human, nature-human, and nature-nature. Relationships are
fundamental to their lives and their survival.
Landscape practices are interconnected with women's presence in their territory and
contribute to the conservation of the region's biodiversity and biocultural. How they
produce, reveal this. The innovation also promotes a new diversity of products and
care for the land.
Knowing their characteristics and differences of rural women in farming reveals their
importance and it is part of environmental justice, equity in the landscape, it also
promotes SDG 5, and indicates how conservation can occur.
Networks were indicated as essential for the agency and resistance of women in their
Knowledge systems were identified as fundamental to the agency, resistance and
innovation of women in their territories. The practice of knowledge exchange is
commonplace and essential for biocultural and biodiversity conservation.
Challenges restrict women's action, but it also drives them to action. However,
challenges make the action and situation of traditional women more vulnerable, thus
weakening their resilience.
Changes can both facilitate or restrict women's agency
General desires for improvement of their lifestyle which often involves resistance
processes and faith - Talking about their hopes is to collectively imagine a possible
future and particularly important for the transformation of governance in the Amazon.
Hope is also an active element happening right now.
I have chosen to speak with you because I am interested in your vision of your work
and what you do here. I will be very happy if you would like to collaborate in the
thesis. I have interviews other people in the community (fairs/associations), as well as
in (name other communities). You are free to decide whether or not to take part and
can choose to withdraw at any point.
This study is independent from any non-governmental organisation operating in the
region, local government or political part/views. I will be in the area during February
and May conducting this research.
You can reach me for follow-up questions at +46 76 22 51 759 (WhatsApp) If you
have any concerns about the way the project is carried out, please contact the ethics
review team at Stockholm Resilience Centre: Dr. Tim Daw ( or Dra.
Maria Mancilla García (, or locally general manager of the
Thank you!
Portuguese version
Título inicial do projeto: Mulheres, conhecimento e inovação para a sustentabilidade -
o círculo de reconciliação na Amazônia
Pesquisador principal: Taís Sonetti González
CONTATO: +46 76 22 51 759 (WhatsApp) ou
Supervisores: Maria Tengö, Wijnand Boonstra e Jamila Haider
Responsável no Brasil: Daiana C. M. Tourne (19) 97143-
Curso de mestrado: Resiliência socioecológica para o desenvolvimento sustentável -
Centro de Resiliência de Estocolmo, Universidade de Estocolmo.
Você está sendo convidado a participar de uma pesquisa. Antes de decidir, é
importante entender por que a pesquisa está sendo feita e o que ela envolverá. Por
favor, pergunte se algo não está claro ou se você deseja obter mais informações.
A degradação florestal na Amazônia contrasta com uma série de práticas de produção
sustentável individual e coletiva, desenvolvidas por agentes locais, conhecidas como
“peças de soluções”. Essas iniciativas têm o potencial de conciliar objetivos de
conservação e desenvolvimento local, como qualidade de vida, conservação e
desenvolvimento econômico mais inclusivo. O objetivo do projeto é avaliar práticas
de transformação promissoras individuais e coletivas de uso da terra na Amazônia,
desde o modelo extrativo até práticas mais sustentáveis de uso da terra. Mas como as
mulheres estão contribuindo para serem “soluções” para a conservação da
biodiversidade e da diversidade biocultural? Para descobrir, gostaria de passar algum
tempo com você, em seu trabalho / campo e em sua casa nos próximos dias.
Eu gostaria de gravar algumas de nossas conversas(a nossa entrevista). Tudo bem com
você? Qualquer informação que você me fornecer será usada sem o seu nome e a
gravação de áudio original será excluída assim que for transcrita. Decidi falar com
você porque estou interessado em sua visão de seu trabalho e o que você faz aqui.
Ficarei muito feliz se você quiser colaborar na tese. Tenho entrevistas outras pessoas
na comunidade (feiras / associações), bem como em (nomear outras comunidades).
Você é livre para decidir se quer participar ou não e pode desistir a qualquer momento.
Este estudo é independente de qualquer organização não governamental operando na
região, governo local ou partes / pontos de vista políticos. Estarei na área durante os
meses de fevereiro e maio conduzindo esta pesquisa.
Você pode entrar em contato comigo para perguntas de acompanhamento em +46 76
22 51 759 (WhatsApp) Se tiver alguma dúvida sobre a forma como o projeto é
realizado, entre em contato com a equipe de revisão de ética no Centro de Resiliência
de Estocolmo: Dr. Tim Daw ( ou Dra. Maria Mancilla García
(, ou gerente geral local do projeto.
Consent form
Research project: Women, Knowledge, and Innovation for sustainability - the circle
of reconciliation in the Amazon
You are being asked to take part in a research study that aims to assess individual and
collective practices of land-use in the Amazon, from the extractive model to a more
sustainable land-use practices.
- What the study is about: This project is for research purposes only. The research
project aims to identify the "pieces of solutions" from Amazonian and facilitated their
empowerment towards a greater agency and participation in the transformative
process of a sustainable and inclusive landscape governance.
- What we expect from you: With your permission, we would like to record the
- Risks and benefits: We do not anticipate any risks to you participating in this study
other than those encountered in day-to-day life. There are no benefits to you for
- Confidentiality: The records of this study belong to Stockholm University and the
confidentiality of respondents are protected by Swedish laws through the Public
Access to Information and Secrecy Act (SFS2009:400). Names of participants are not
recorded, instead the interview transcripts use a randomized ID number. Any reports
or publications will therefore include neither your name nor your role in your group.
However, the name of your organization or community will be used. All information
will be securely stored, and only researchers involved in the project will have access
to it. Records will be archived anonymously.
- Voluntary participation: Your participation is completely voluntary. You may skip
whatever questions you do not want to answer, and you are free to withdraw at any
- We might use exact quotes from our interview, but these will never be linked to your
- This interview will contribute to a scientific research project. The results of this
research will be published and freely available so that anyone will be able to access
- You will have access to a summary of the results in your language, which will be
available online and physically, and will be sent it to you if you agree to give your
contact details.
- Any information that could be considered against the law is of your entire
responsibility and the confidentiality of this interview does not imply legal privileges.
The researcher conducting this study is Taís González (
+46 762251759), supervised by Dr. Maria Tengö ( +46
734604910), and co-supervised by Wijnand Boonstra and Jamila Haider - affiliated
with Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University, Sweden. The research
ethics for this study have been reviewed by my supervisor and the SRC Director of
studies according to the guidelines of the SRC research ethics committee. If you have
any concerns about the way the project is carried out, please contact the heads of the
SRC Ethics Committee: Dr. Tim Daw ( or Dra. Maria Mancilla
García (
Statement of consent: I have read the above information and have received answers
to any questions I asked. I consent to take part in the study.
Participant signature:
Local and
Researcher name:
Local and
The consent form will be kept by the researchers for at least three years beyond the
end of the study. You will be given a copy of this form to keep for your records
Portuguese Version
Projeto de pesquisa: Mulheres, conhecimento e inovação para a sustentabilidade - o
círculo de reconciliação na Amazônia
Você está sendo convidado a participar de uma pesquisa que visa avaliar práticas
individuais e coletivas de uso da terra na Amazônia, desde o modelo extrativo até
práticas mais sustentáveis de uso da terra.
- Sobre o que é o estudo: Este projeto é apenas para fins de pesquisa. O projeto de
pesquisa tem como objetivo identificar as "soluções" da Amazônia e facilitar seu
empoderamento para uma maior agência e participação no processo transformador de
uma governança paisagística sustentável e inclusiva.
- O que esperamos de você: com sua permissão, gostaríamos de gravar a entrevista.
- Riscos e benefícios: Não prevemos nenhum risco para você participar deste estudo,
além dos encontrados no dia-a-dia. Não há benefícios para você por participar.
- Confidencialidade: os registros deste estudo pertencem à Universidade de
Estocolmo e a confidencialidade dos entrevistados é protegida pelas leis suecas por
meio da Lei de Acesso Público à Informação e Sigilo (SFS2009: 400). Os nomes dos
participantes não são gravados; as transcrições da entrevista usam um número de
identificação aleatório. Portanto, quaisquer relatórios ou publicações não incluirão seu
nome nem sua função em seu grupo. No entanto, o nome da sua organização ou
comunidade será usado. Todas as informações serão armazenadas com segurança e
somente os pesquisadores envolvidos no projeto terão acesso a elas. Os registros serão
arquivados anonimamente.
- Participação voluntária: sua participação é completamente voluntária. Você pode
não precisa responder as perguntas que não deseja responder e pode retirar-se da
pesquisa a qualquer momento.
- Podemos usar citações exatas de nossa entrevista, mas elas nunca serão vinculadas à
sua identidade.
- Esta entrevista contribuirá para um projeto de pesquisa científica. Os resultados
desta pesquisa serão publicados e disponibilizados gratuitamente, para que qualquer
pessoa possa acessá-los.
- Você terá acesso a um resumo dos resultados em seu idioma, que estará disponível
on-line e que será enviado a você se você concordar em fornecer o seu contato.
- Qualquer informação que possa ser considerada ilegal é de sua inteira
responsabilidade e a confidencialidade desta entrevista não implica privilégios legais.
A pesquisadora que conduz este estudo é Taís González (
+46 762251759), supervisionada pela Dra. Maria Tengö ( +46
734604910) e co-supervisionada por Wijnand Boonstra e Jamila Haider afiliados
com o Stockholm Resilience Center da Universidade de Estocolmo, Suécia. A ética
em pesquisa deste estudo foi revisada pelo meu supervisor e pelo diretor de estudos da
SRC, de acordo com as diretrizes do comitê de ética em pesquisa da SRC. Se você
tiver alguma dúvida sobre como o projeto é realizado, entre em contato com os chefes
do Comitê de Ética do SRC: Dr. Tim Daw ( ou Dra. Maria Mancilla
García ( Responsável no Brasil: Daiana C. M. Tourne (19) 97143-4522
Declaração de consentimento: Li as informações acima e recebi respostas para todas
as perguntas que fiz. Autorizo participar do estudo.
Nome dx participante:___________________________________________________
Assinatura dx participant: ________________________________________________
Nome da Pesquisadora: _________________________________________________
Assinatura da pesquisadora:______________________________________________
Local e Data:__________________________________________________________
O termo de consentimento será mantido pelos pesquisadores por pelo menos três anos
após o final do estudo. Você receberá uma cópia deste formulário para guardar em
seus registros
AGENTS Project
My master's thesis is part of the AGENTS - Governance of the Amazon project to
enable transformations for sustainability - a collaborative research action funded by
the NORFACE program - Belmont Forum Transformations to Sustainability (T2S)
(2018-2021), composed of six partner organizations from the Brazil, USA, The
Netherlands and Sweden. AGENTS is based on a participatory, comparative and
multi-scale perspective, and combines social sciences, forest sciences and spatial
analysis. Although government-led solutions are commonly seen as the path to
development, a wide variety of sustainable forestry practices in the Amazon emerge
from individual and collective initiatives and can be considered "solutions" to protect
and govern biodiversity and landscapes in areas selected in the Brazilian, Peruvian
and Bolivian Amazon. The project aims to contribute as methodological and
analytical tools to catalyse the recognition of existing but often dispersed basic
practices. I intend to contribute to the contribute to the AGENTS project by exploring
the knowledge systems of traditional women in Belterra and their possible role in
innovative solutions that can contribute to the conservation of the region's biodiversity
and bioculture. On the other hand, the AGENTS project will provide spatial
information from the areas where initiatives from traditional women were identified
in this research. Since, the landscape analysis associated to focus group and
interviews can strongly contribute to highlight evidence on historical and recent
Detailed Interpreted Results in Portuguese
Ethical Review final review
I am happy with the results of my thesis since I was able to carry it out in a respectful,
inclusive, and collaborative way with the women I encountered. I am pleased with the
fact that they approved the results, and according to the comments, it faithfully
portrayed their life and struggles. However, during my fieldwork, I faced many
challenges, as it is usual in a long period of doing fieldwork. I lived together with my
collaborators; hence, I found myself many times in the middle of the day-to-day life
of people's normal relationships that include fights, disputes, side conversations, etc.
It was challenging to get around of some situations such as the power struggle
between some women, associations, institutions, etc. - who included myself as part of
that power, for example, in which house I would stay, or which association would "get
more of me"... I tried my best to divide my time among them and try to be with
women who were not part of the association's board or who were not part of any
association at all, for example. I also tried not to express any judgment or express
opinions on the conduct or possible misconduct of the collaborators or express
comments with political or gender bias that could be misinterpreted.
I did find in narratives a way of that. For example, if there were a fight in the home or
community, especially involving a drunk man, many would come to me (knowing my
research topic) to know about my position and my thoughts about what happened.
Obviously, in a hot climate culture like the Brazilian, if you say that you are impartial,
you would not be seen with "good eyes", in reality, you will be understood as a snob
or as someone who is not empathetic to the difficulties of others. I then talked about
my own experiences, for example, having grown up with an alcoholic father. I
realized that being who I am is a choice that needs to be also exposed while doing
research - in a strategic way, though. In my culture, this presents itself as a way of
showing that we are equal, that everyone has their struggles and what we need is to
respect and show solidarity, which can be done in many ways.
... According to Shanley et al. [82], many of the women's groups and associations 'capitalized on international donors' interest in gender issues and garnered funding from external sources, ( . . . ) while others came about from the confrontation of discriminatory policies favoring large ranchers and monoculture plantations'. Yet, while women in leadership roles in the governance of local and regional organizations have increased over the last two decades with the support of non-governmental organizations, including religious groups, they remain largely invisible and lacking specific support in public policies [89,83,84]. ...
Full-text available
From state-based developmentalism to community-based initiatives to market-based conservation, the Brazilian Amazon has been a laboratory of development interventions for over 50 years. The region is now confronting a devastating COVID-19 pandemic amid renewed environmental pressures and increasing social inequities. While these forces are shaping the present and future of the region, the Amazon has also become an incubator of local innovations and efforts confronting these pressures. Often overlooked, place-based initiatives involving individual and collective-action have growing roles in promoting regional sustainability. We review the history of development interventions influencing the emergence of place-based initiatives and their potential to promoting changes in productive systems, value-aggregation and market-access, and governance arrangements improving living-standards and environmental sustainability. We provide examples of initiatives documented by the AGENTS project, contextualizing them within the literature. We reflect on challenges and opportunities affecting their trajectories at this critical juncture for the future of the region.
Full-text available
The Planalto Santareno region includes areas of the municipalities of Santarém, Belterra and Mojuí dos Campos, state of Pará, Brazil, and has emerged as an emblematic case of the conflict between agribusiness and family farming. In this article, we present the forms of interaction between these two production models, based on the results of a Participatory Zoning of Family Farming in the Santareno Plateau, carried out with local actors as part of an effort to co-build an Observatory of Social and Environmental Dynamics in the Amazon. The results show that albeit a relatively homogeneous logic of agribusiness expansion in the Planalto Santareno, family farming configures itself and interacts with agribusiness in various ways in this territory. We argue that this diversity of family farming, characterized by distinct zones, reflects local trajectories that vary according to a series of contextually operating factors, such as occupation history, physical landscape attributes, market access, infrastructure, social organization, proximity with urban centers, among others. Taking this diversity into account, we propose reflections on the relationship between the different production models addressed, pointing out possible strategies for strengthening family farming.
Full-text available
Brazilian small-scale farmers are seeking new types of collaborations and economic opportunities amid a changing world. Market opportunities, however, have incurred demanding environmental, financial and labor requirements, and created trade-offs between expanding cash crops and maintaining livelihood security. We analyze the Tomé-Açu region in the Brazilian Amazon, where different collaborative models between small-scale farmers and other social agents (industries, government, non-governmental organizations) have emerged. Local farmers are engaging in collective actions and pursuing different types of partnerships, which facilitate knowledge exchange and access to market niches, also helping them overcome the infrastructural and logistical deficiencies that have historically limited rural development in the region. In particular, we discuss the diffusion and adoption of agroforestry and oil palm production systems among small-scale farmers. We examine the challenges and opportunities these partnerships and social innovations have created for local farmers, who are part of heterogeneous groups with distinct roles, assets and contexts. The state-led oil palm program posed challenges to small-scale farmers who experienced asymmetrical relationships within their partnership with private companies. On the other hand, the farmer-led agroforestry model opened new opportunities for farmers who had more flexibility in deciding their production arrangements, developing new agroforestry techniques, and pursuing commercialization pathways. Despite their limited power, small-scale farmers have been able to overcome some structural barriers through innovations, entrepreneurship, and renegotiation of oil palm contract farming. Thus, their ability to engage in both farmer-led agroforestry and state-led oil palm programs provides concrete examples of the potential of local governance based on collaborative arrangements to support sustainable farming production systems.
Full-text available
In the increasingly polarized international political arena, it has become difficult to find common ground to solve Brazil's ongoing environmental crisis, which has global as well as local implications. International buyers of Brazil's agricultural commodities have raised concerns about products that are contaminated by deforestation (i.e., deforestation occurred during the process of producing the product) (text S12). European Union (EU) criticism of the Brazilian government bolsters demands to boycott Brazilian products and to withhold ratification of the trade agreement reached in 2019 between the EU and Mercosur, the South American trade bloc. Among the concerns is that increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from deforestation and forest fires in Brazil could cancel out EU climate change mitigation efforts. The Brazilian government and agribusiness contend that national laws ensure high conservation standards, and hence trading bans should not include legally authorized deforestation (1). Here, we address the interlinkage between illegal deforestation in the Amazon and Cerrado—the largest Brazilian biomes with the highest rates of deforestation—and EU imports of Brazil's soy and beef, the country's major agricultural commodities (table S9). Although most of Brazil's agricultural output is deforestation-free, we find that 2% of properties in the Amazon and Cerrado are responsible for 62% of all potentially illegal deforestation and that roughly 20% of soy exports and at least 17% of beef exports from both biomes to the EU may be contaminated with illegal deforestation. Raising awareness is important to press Brazil to conserve its environmental assets and to promote international political will for cutting telecoupled GHG emissions. This could be achieved, for example, through the environmental safeguards of the Mercosur-EU trade agreement, which require EU imports to comply with the export country's legislation.
Full-text available
Landscape stewardship is increasingly understood within the framing of complex social-ecological systems. To consider the implications of this, we focus on one of the key characteristics of complex social-ecological systems: they are relationally constituted, meaning that system characteristics emerge out of dynamic relations between system components. We focus on multi-actor collaboration as a key form of relationality in landscapes, seeking a more textured understanding of the social relations between landscape actors. We draw on a set of ‘gardening tools’ to analyse the boundary-crossing work of multi-actor collaboration. These tools comprise three key concepts: relational expertise, common knowledge, and relational agency. We apply the tools to two cases of landscape stewardship in South Africa: the Langkloof Region and the Tsitsa River catchment. These landscapes are characterised by economically, socio-culturally, and politically diverse groups of actors. Our analysis reveals that history and context strongly influence relational processes, that boundary-crossing work is indeed difficult, and that doing boundary-crossing work in smaller pockets within a landscape is helpful. The tools also helped to identify three key social-relational practices which lend a new perspective on boundary-crossing work: 1. belonging while differing, 2. growing together by interacting regularly and building common knowledge, and 3. learning and adapting together with humility and empathy.
Full-text available
Research on social‐ecological systems (SES) has highlighted their complex and adaptive character and pointed to the importance of recognizing their intertwined nature. Yet, we often base our analysis and governance of SES on static and independent objects, such as actors and resources which are not well suited to address complexity and intertwinedness. This bias, which is largely implicit, has its roots in substance ontologies that have influenced most of contemporary science. This paper argues that it is useful to critically reflect on this ontological grounding and develop SES research from a process ontological perspective. Key insights are that process ontological concepts such as process, event and possibility space are able to overcome the dichotomy between the social and the ecological and allow for a conceptualization of continuous change (dynamism) that enhances our understanding of SES as truly intertwined and complex systems. This will enable SES researchers to conceptualize problems as well as corresponding solutions in novel ways which will ultimately support the development of novel governance approaches, from rethinking the aims of policies from managing people towards managing relations between and among people and the natural system. To fully tap the potential which comes with a change in worldview towards a process ontology, changing research approaches and ways of abstracting are required.
Full-text available
Indigenous and Local Ecological Knowledge (ILEK) has been recognized for its potential and contribution to sustainable use of natural resources. It has proven difficult, however, to investigate and observe its tacit and embodied character. The objective of this article is to explore ways in which we can theoretically and methodologically understand ILEK. It does so by theorizing ILEK as craftsmanship using literature on practice theory, and analyzing the tacit and embodied nature of craftsmanship of a Sámi craftswoman and an archipelago fisherman through the use of visual methods. Results of this study are used to analyze and discuss how craftsmanship reproduces ILEK and its potential to contribute to environmental sustainability.
This paper proposes an epistemological approach to analyse social-ecological systems from a process perspective in order to better tackle the co-constitution of the social and the ecological and the dynamism of these systems. It highlights the usefulness of rethinking our conceptual tools taking processes and relations as the main constituents of reality instead of fundamental substances or essences. We introduce the concept of experience as understood in radical empiricism to critically revise our available concepts through focusing on the concept of difference, exploring apparent contradictions and engaging in assemblage thinking.
O artigo descreve e analisa o processo de construção do Feminismo Camponês e Popular no Movimento de Mulheres Camponesas (MMC), sendo esse um assunto novo nos estudos acadêmicos. A metodologia utilizada é a pesquisa participante e a pesquisa-ação devido à inserção direta das autoras nesse movimento há mais de quinze anos. Como parte dos resultados dessa inserção, temos três dissertações de mestrado (Conte, 2011; Cinelli, 2012; Santos, 2012) e duas teses de doutorado (Conte, 2014; Cinelli, 2016). Além disso, houve a participação das autoras no processo de debate sobre o Feminismo Camponês e Popular no MMC nos últimos três anos. Destacamos como aspecto relevante o fato de que o Feminismo Camponês e Popular é fruto da identidade coletiva das mulheres do MMC em luta. Sobretudo, ele é construído na articulação com outras organizações camponesas de mulheres e feministas, ancoradas no universo de trabalho, na defesa da agroecologia e na liberdade/libertação, almejando a construção de uma sociedade justa e solidária, ou seja, socialista. Palavras-chave: Feminismo Camponês e Popular; Movimento de Mulheres Camponesas; Lutas. Peasant and popular feminism: a history of collective constructions ABSTRACT. The following article describes and analyses the process of construction of the Peasant Popular Feminism in the Peasant Women's Movement (MMC), a new subject of academic studies. The methodology used is participatory action research, given the direct immersion of the authors in said movement for more than fifteen years. As part of the results of this immersion, we have three Master's dissertations (Conte, 2011; Cinelli, 2012; Santos, 2012) and two Doctorate's theses (Conte, 2014; Cinelli, 2016). Furthermore, the authors were involved in the process of debating the Peasant Popular Feminism in MMC for the past three years. We highlight the relevance of the fact that the Peasant Popular Feminism is fruit of the collective identity of the fighting MMC women. Above all, it is constructed in dialogue with other peasant's organizations of working women and feminists, in the defense of agroecology and freedom/liberation, and hoping to build a fair and solidary, that is to say, socialist society. keywords: Peasant Popular Feminism; Peasant Women's Movement; Fights. Feminismo campesino y popular: una historia de construcciones colectivas RESUMEN. El presente artículo describe y analiza el proceso de construcción del Feminismo Campesino y Popular en el Movimiento de Mujeres Campesinas (MMC), siendo este un tema nuevo en los estudios académicos. La metodología utilizada es la investigación participante y la investigación-acción debido a la inserción directa de las autoras en ese movimiento desde hace más de quince años. Como parte de los resultados de esta inserción, tenemos tres disertaciones de maestría (Conte, 2011; Cinelli, 2012; Santos, 2012) y dos tesis de doctorado (Conte, 2014; Cinelli, 2016). Además, hubo la participación de las autoras en el proceso de debate sobre el Feminismo Campesino y Popular en lo MMC en los últimos tres años. Destacamos como aspecto relevante el hecho de que el Feminismo Campesino y Popular es fruto de la identidad colectiva de las mujeres del MMC en lucha. Sobre todo, se construye en la articulación con otras organizaciones campesinas de mujeres y feministas, ancladas en el universo de trabajo, en la defensa de la agroecología y en la libertad / liberación, buscando la construcción de una sociedad justa y solidaria, o sea, socialista. Palabras clave: Feminismo Campesino y Popular; Movimiento de Mujeres Campesinas; Luchas.