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Territories, multi-territoriality and memories of the peoples of Guarani and Kaiowá: geographic differences and the struggle for decolonization in the indigenous reserve and the encampments of the Tekoha in Dourados/MS

Grant number: 12/08736-3
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): October 01, 2012
Effective date (End): July 31, 2015
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Geography - Human Geography
Principal Investigator:Clifford Andrew Welch
Grantee:Juliana Grasiéli Bueno Mota
Host Institution: Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia (FCT). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Presidente Prudente. Presidente Prudente , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):14/20473-3 - Studies on decolonization and indigenous movements in Mexico, BE.EP.DR


The central objective of this study is to describe and explain the geographical differences between the Indian Reservation and encampments-tekoha that have recently been established in the municipality of Dourados in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. Through a conceptual approach to territory, the study dialogues with the categories of native Guarani and Kaiowá people, with tekoha and tekoha guasu - native terms that denote the periods before and after the dis/encounter with the karaí - the "white." The concept of decolonization is used to analyze the lingering impact of colonialism on interethnic relations in both these spaces. Founded in 1917 by Brazil's Indian Protection Service, the reserve long operated under a policy of assimilation through "civilization." In the last several years, indigenous people have fought to create their own territories, initially in the form of land occupations - in nearby camps, variously denominated as tekoha Apika'y, Pacurity, Ñu Porã, Ñu Verã and Boqueron. While the reserve consolidates colonialism, the tekoha geographically represent the struggle for decolonization taking place today in actions meant to recover ancestral territories. The tekoha movement expresses a rebellion against colonial reserve status, as well as the agrarian capitalism paradigm that predetermines rural land usage for crops rather than communities. We argue that the geographical differences between these territories arise not only from the material differences of the two spaces, but above all from complex immaterial differences. These include differences in perceptions of processes of geographical des/repossession - the multi-territoriality - of territorial construction and destruction, on the connections and disconnections that cut across dramatically divergent ethnic-identity narratives, memories and ways of life. In summary, the socio-spatial practices in the Reserve are the result, primarily, of the set of actions imposed by the Brazilian government through its colonial projects, especially in the final decades of the nineteenth century. Encampments-tekoha, however, represent the attempt to reconstruct and reaffirm ethnic identity and multiterritorialities impacted by the state civilization project. Thus, in these territories there is the relentless pursuit for the revival of an older way of living - tekoyma - clashing with the new ways of living - tekopyahu, which is expressed by the precarious territorialization on the Indian Reservations created by SPI. Dialogue with Guarani and Kaiowá people was facilitated by two methodologies employed through fieldwork, participant observation and interviews. Regular, long-term contact with the subjects of the study provoked reflections about the importance of anthropological methods for geography. The interface with anthropology affirmed the advantages for geography of making an effort to understand the reality of the subjects studied, because their perspective challenges us to rethink and imagine not only indigenous people in Brazilian society, but entirely new ways of imagining space and territory. These Guarani and Kaiowá "cosmo-geographies" greatly inform this thesis. (AU)

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Academic Publications
(References retrieved automatically from State of São Paulo Research Institutions)
MOTA, Juliana Grasiéli Bueno. Territórios, multiterritorialidades e memórias dos povos Guarani e Kaiowá: diferenças geográficas e as lutas pela Des-colonização na Reserva Indígena e nos acampamentos-tekoha - Dourados/MS. 2015. Doctoral Thesis - Universidade Estadual Paulista (Unesp). Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia. Presidente Prudente Presidente Prudente.

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