Thinking with Bem Viver across rural and urban Amazonia: Indigenous and Black spaces of resistance

Authors: ,


In Brazil, Bem Viver recently arrived as a compelling counter-narrative to development's vision of land and labor as resources to be exploited. Bem Viver challenges the reductionism of land-as-resource, reinforces community autonomy, and entails reciprocity in relations with the nonhuman world. The purpose of this article is to extend conversations surrounding Bem Viver to the Brazilian Amazon state of Pará, primarily through asking whether the relational ethics of Bem Viver are active within current resistance movements focused on opposing neoliberal capitalism and racially-motivated dispossession. These resistance movements struggle for the maintenance of traditional relations while safeguarding socioecologies through territory. The cases we discuss draw upon our ethnographic work conducted within an Indigenous community in the Tapajós Basin and the Afro-Brazilian market Porto da Palha in urban Belém. We also consider whether Bem Viver opens the possibility of a post-political ecology framing of contestation over natural resources and place. Bem Viver is fundamentally relational and creates territorialities conflicting with market logics centered on financialization, individual accumulation, and private property. On the ground, Bem Viver as praxis shapes everyday practices sustaining place-based lifeways and determining material realities for the Indigenous and Black communities of the Tapajós and Belém regions of Pará.

Keywords: Bem Viver, Buen Vivir, Amazon, Indigenous, Brazil, Territory, Conservation, Development, Socioecologies, Gentrification, Carbon Credits, Afro-Brazilian, Knowledge, Race

How to Cite: Kantner, B. & Peixoto, R. (2023) “Thinking with Bem Viver across rural and urban Amazonia: Indigenous and Black spaces of resistance”, Journal of Political Ecology. 30(1). doi: