Lecture: “Living Alongside: Activism, Agency, and Infrastructure Development in the Biodiversity Hotspot of Southern Bahia, Brazil”

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206 Ingraham Hall
@ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Dr. Scanlan Lyons

Presented by Dr. Colleen Scanlan Lyons, Associate Research Professor, University of Colorado-Boulder.

About the presentation: With some of the last remaining intact Atlantic Forest in the vast country of Brazil, Southern Bahia, has long been famous as both a global biodiversity “hotspot” and a region with a rich historical and cultural heritage. But today, however, this place is also known for something else—a large-scale railroad and port development project, Porto Sul, has made it the site of one of the largest infrastructure development projects in Latin America. As social-environmental leaders defend forest conservation, family farmers seek to earn their livings in one the formerly richest cacao zones in Brazil, and quilombolas (descendants of formerly enslaved people) struggle for visibility and livelihood options in the face of climate disasters, Porto Sul quietly looms large. This talk examines entrenched and emerging forms of activism, and the ways in which these forces “live alongside” each other and Porto Sul. It furthers the findings of a recently published monograph, Running After Paradise: Hope, Survival, and Activism in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest (University of Arizona Press 2022, available in English and in Portuguese in Spring 2024) explores timely and transversal questions: How are the people in this biodiversity hotspot resisting, aligning, and grappling with their rootedness in place, particularly when their place is changing? How does activist engagement endure and change over time? How can we, as scholars, observers, and activists accompany the complex struggles and lives of those on the frontlines of complex social-environmental dilemmas around the world?

About the presenter: Colleen Scanlan Lyons is an environmental anthropologist who works for forest conservation and sustainable development in tropical forest regions of the world. Based at the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU), she serves as an Associate Research Professor in the Environment and Society Program within CU’s Institute of Behavioral Science. She is also affiliated with the Environmental Studies Department (ENVS) and the Masters of the Environment (MENV) Programs at CU. Since 2015, she has directed the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF Task Force), the world’s largest subnational governmental network for forests, climate, and low-emissions development. Colleen also teaches graduate courses on stakeholder engagement, runs a field course on integrated conservation and development in Brazil’s Amazon and Atlantic Forests with CU and Brazilian students and professors, mentors students, and conducts research on topics ranging from livelihoods and conservation in the Atlantic Forest to environmental governance and forest citizenship across the Amazon. She recently completed a book on social movements in the global biodiversity hotspot of Southern Bahia, Brazil, Running After Paradise: Hope, Survival, and Activism in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, which strives to present activism through the perspectives and voices of leaders within and across social movements. Across her various positions and projects, Colleen’s life mission is to bridge social-environmental leaders in the global North and South to promote tropical forest conservation that benefits people and place.