Amazonia as Territory: Poder & Potencia in Pará



How to Cite

Kantner, B., & Lopes Tavares , H. (2023). Amazonia as Territory: Poder & Potencia in Pará. Alternautas, 10(1), 63–94.


This paper considers the dialectic of territorialization at play between the Brazilian state and traditional peoples (ribeirinhos) in Amazonia through Nick Clare, Victoria Habermehl, and Liz Mason-Deese’s (2018) theorization of poder and potencia. The interplay between poder and potencia becomes evident throughout the modern history of Brazilian development initiatives, interventions by capital, and social movements organized by traditional peoples. Territories of poder and potenica in the Brazilian Amazon draw from this history of dialectic territorializations which finds contemporary form in knowledge discourses and resource politics. The poder of the Brazilian state and extractive corporations utilizes both overwhelming scale and personal confrontations to facilitate resource requisitions. The potencia promised by traditional territories—reciprocal socioecologies connected to Amazonian ecosystems—suggests power derived from overlapping territorialities between humans and nonhumans. Through interviews and counter-mapping with the São Francisco community, we demonstrate that the place-based lifeways (“modo de vida”) of the community also sustain prefigurative potential for a territory that exceeds the logics of the state and capital.


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Copyright (c) 2023 Benjamin Kantner


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