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Plant stories in a globalized world or new plant worlds? The case of guaraná in the Brazilian Amazon

Abstract : The Brazilian Amazon, a large mosaic of socio-ecosystems, is concerned by several and sometimes conflictual dimensions of the globalization of markets, resources and knowledge. Targeted by “modernization” programs, rural populations of the region see alternative opportunities of development open with the requalification of their traditional knowledge and practices for their role in biodiversity conservation, and the implementation of new tools to valorize them. We propose to account for some identity and territorial struggles this shifting context triggered by describing the emergence of (and changes in) plant worlds involving an emblematic vine of the region, guaraná (Paullinia cupana Kunth var. sorbilis (Mart.) Ducke). In the past decades, the botanical ontologies (understood as performative conceptions) of this energizing plant, cultivated for centuries in the Lower Amazonas, have multiplied. While it transformed into a “technology” among those who promote agricultural modernization, in parallel guaraná turned back into a “wild” plant among the native people who originally domesticated it. Other cases appeared between these two ends of a complex gradient, each corresponding to a project linked with the plant. Focusing our gaze on four of them, we combine ethnobotanical surveys with an ANT approach to show that these “new guaranás” result of the instantiation and translation of plant knowledge in different socio-ecological contexts, in order for the groups concerned to pursue proper objectives. We also show how these distinct plants embody the frictions between different worlds whose more or less extensive networks intersect and seek to anchor themselves in the territory, in order to impose themselves on others, to resist them, or to invent new representations of territorial development. We thus question the way Amazonian populations innovate today in order to negotiate their relationship to modernity, at the crossroads of globalized value chains and of a territory where the plant is historically rooted.
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Contributor : Mélanie Congretel <>
Submitted on : Thursday, September 17, 2020 - 11:31:28 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, June 15, 2021 - 2:57:14 PM


  • HAL Id : halshs-02941696, version 1



Mélanie Congretel. Plant stories in a globalized world or new plant worlds? The case of guaraná in the Brazilian Amazon. Plant worlds : a cross-disciplinary forum on human-plant relationships, Centre for Biocultural Diversity, The School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent, May 2017, Canterbury, United Kingdom. ⟨halshs-02941696⟩



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