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GSSC Seminar Series
23 April 2024


Bringing life to rights: the international struggles of indigenous lawyers on water and climate change

Gustavo Moreira Ramos Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar/Brazil)



In response to an increasing number of attacks since 2010s, the Brazilian indigenous movement has expanded its struggles to the legal and international arenas, with special attention to water issues. This ethnographic research investigates what indigenous struggles for water at the international level tell us about the mechanisms of global environmental governance in a context of climate change. Focusing on practical dimension and on the entanglements between water issues, international human rights law and legal bureaucracy that emerge in the international actions carried out by indigenous lawyers, I examine how the indigenous concept of water as life relates to the legal notion of water as right as well as how climate issues appears in these indigenous struggles. To discuss these issues, I will present some results from my previous research (master's degree) and the paths that my current doctoral research is taking.

Gustavo Moreira Ramos is a doctoral student in anthropology at the Postgraduate Program in Social Anthropology at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar/Brazil). Researcher linked to HYBRIS - Study and Research Group on Power Relations, Conflicts, Socialities (UFSCar/USP); and the MÉTIS Thematic Project – Arts and semantics of creation and memory (USP/UFSCar/UNIFESP). He receives research funding from CAPES (Brazil) and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (USA). During his master's degree, he carried out fieldwork in the Brazilian semiarid region on the relationships between the Tuxá indigenous people and the Opará river - the largest entirely Brazilian river (São Francisco River for white people) - as well as on the participation of Tuxá leaders in the São Francisco River Basin Committee. Currently, he is carrying out research on the international actions of indigenous lawyers on topics related to environmental issues, climate change and water.