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Urban Tropical Forest: Where Nature and Human Settlements Are Assets for Overcoming Dependency, but How Can Urbanisation Theories Identify These Potentials?

Part of the The Urban Book Series book series (UBS)

Abstract

This paper focuses on the extensive urbanisation of the Eastern Amazon, where human settlements date back to an era when total cooperation existed between man and nature , a time when land, water, forest and people were perceived as inseparable parts of the whole. However, this harmonious situation has ceased to exist following several episodes of colonisation and modernisation. During the last initiative to integrate the region with the rest of the country, it was classified under the social divisions of Brazilian labour as agrarian and suitable for the mineral extraction industry. Furthermore, the recent overlap between the interests of privately owned global companies and federal investments in logistics, and of the pattern of Portuguese colonisation, has led to a process of hybrid urbanisation. The historical pattern of population dispersion has also suffered modifications whereby connections have been established that link previously isolated settlements to national centres and global metropolises. Such practices have acted against all current data on climate change and have disrespected nature and the environment to such an extent that selective modernization and its reverse, informal occupation, have increased the spread of deforestation, pollution, the siltation of rivers and the reduction of surface water volumes. This article demonstrates how these transformations have been responsible for the exclusion of those groups forced onto the margins of modernisation: people born in the region who depend on the biophysical base for their livelihood, including indigenous peoples, caboclos (the offspring of indigenous and Portuguese peoples), peasants and traditional communities who live in rural areas or were pushed into urban areas once the countryside had been restructured. The article also seeks to expose local resistance to this process, thereby revealing how extensive urbanisation may evolve from mere economic integration towards comprehensive urbanisation, capable of creating new forms of citizenship and a respect for nature , thereby transforming it into the extensive naturalisation of the urban .

Keywords

  • Brazilian Amazon
  • Pre-Colombian urbanisation
  • Extensive urbanisation
  • Belém
  • Santarém
  • Marabá
  • Altamira
  • Afuá

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Fig. 9.1

Sources Google Earth Pro 2017 (top); the Authors (bottom)

Fig. 9.2

Sources The authors

Fig. 9.3

Sources Pereira, Negrao, Silva, Gomes and Thomazelli (authorisation for publication of photos received)

Notes

  1. 1.

    This explanation helps to better situate the role of peripheral countries in the international division of labour established between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These countries were required to provide raw materials and primary goods, while the centre of the system could concentrate spatial structures so as to produce, distribute and commercialise industrial goods. Such thinking has supported theoretical approaches influenced by CEPAL (Economic Commission for Latin America—one of the five United Nations regional commissions), which were very influential among Latin American scholars during the 1950s and 1960s. Since that time, they have been reframed and broadened, to allow new interpretations on the integration of Latin American countries to the global capitalist system (Prebisch and Cabanas 1949; Toye and Toye 2003; Baer 1962; Love 1980).

  2. 2.

    These groups originally inhabited rural areas, peasants are rural family-based producers, Quilombolas are descendants of African slaves who escaped from their owners to live in isolated, secret free communities, and Caboclos are a typical social group in the Amazon created from the miscegenation between the indigenous peoples and the Portuguese.

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Acknowledgements

We kindly acknowledge the data basis and network of the research project UrbisAmazônia, to which the findings presented in this chapter are connected.

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Correspondence to Ana Claudia Cardoso .

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Cardoso, A.C., Silva, H., Melo, A.C., Araújo, D. (2018). Urban Tropical Forest: Where Nature and Human Settlements Are Assets for Overcoming Dependency, but How Can Urbanisation Theories Identify These Potentials?. In: Horn, P., Alfaro d'Alencon, P., Duarte Cardoso, A. (eds) Emerging Urban Spaces. The Urban Book Series. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57816-3_9

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