Banzeiro Okoto: The Amazon as the Center of the World
By Eliane Brum. Translated by Diane Whitty.
A Brazilian investigative journalist and a 2021 winner of the prestigious Maria Moors Cabot Prize for journalism in Latin America, Brum comes out guns blazing in this sardonic, polemical work. She denounces the dark forces annihilating the Amazon Basin and its remaining indigenous peoples: industrial and commercial capitalism, white patriarchy, big mining companies, hydroelectric projects, and predatory, reactionary Brazilians as exemplified by former President Jair Bolsonaro. Critical of “European ways” of thinking and what she perceives as the flaws of Enlightenment reasoning, Brum has relocated to an Amazonian city and embraced what sometimes comes across as a romanticized animism. She never spells out what it would mean, in concrete policy terms, to place the Amazon at “the center of the world.” But Brum is a powerful, poetic voice for those environmental activists struggling to resist, before it is too late, the further degradation of her life-affirming Amazon.