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The Tensions at the Amazon’s fringe

Located in the transition zone between the legal Amazon and the Brazilian backlands, the marshlands of Maranhão state are known as “the Amazon forest’s fringe”. This land has been ignored for centuries due to its unsual Amazon landscape, but has suffered a huge social and environmental impact in recent years due to the expansion of the local economic development.

The first impacts started in the 1960s with the implementation of the buffalo farming industry. Over the decades, indigenous and quilombolas have lost their territories due to illegal land grabbing, which has created violent conflicts. In 2017, the Akroá-Gamella, an almost extinct local indigenous group, was violently attacked. They were demanding their original territory near the city of Viana, but the Gamellas are seen as a threat by buffalo ranchers and the urban population living in their territory.

In 2019, the construction of an energy transmission line contaminated the marshlands and killed up to 80% of its fish, the main source of food and income for the local communities. This issue caused huge economic and cultural impacts, collapsing the centennial way of life of the marshlands’ traditional groups.

This project proposes a visual documentation of the stress caused by Amazon’s economic development and presents, through the local characters’ portraits, the impacts at this underreported area.