Biocultural Approaches to Conservation: Water Sovereignty in the Kayapó Lands

  • Laura ZanottiEmail author
Part of the Ecology and Ethics book series (ECET, volume 3)


This chapter engages with biocultural approaches to conservation to affirm the growing need and application of frameworks to address power, rights, and indigenous perspectives in local to global environmental problems. Through a case study that focuses on Mẽbêngôkre-Kayapó peoples’ projects for water sovereignty, I describe the sociopolitical and institutional contexts and cultural perspectives that shape Kayapó engagements with aquatic environment. While river and riparian habitats are central to Kayapó livelihoods and political goals, Kayapó understandings of aquatic landscapes are not central to national and international visions of sustainable Amazonian futures. These visions fashion the Amazon as a conservation-development mosaic instead of a bioculturally diverse homeland. I argue that bicultural approaches are particularly well-suited to highlight these different perspectives on policy and practice and to shift conversation paradigms in a way that can accommodate Kayapó Peoples’ and other Indigenous Peoples’ strategies to retain a good or mejkumrej life.


Biocultural Kayapó Rights Power Indigenous worldviews 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anthropology, Center for the EnvironmentPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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