Terra preta de índio: Commodification and Mythification of the Amazonian Dark Earths
This paper contributes to the history of terra preta research. It traces not only the history of science of Amazonian Dark Earths (terra preta de índio) but the history of knowledge of terra preta taking explicitly into account indigenous contributions. Five major phases are distinguished. In the beginning knowledge on terra preta was local indigenous knowledge. The scientific object “terra preta” was created in the context of archaeological research and has then been reframed as a carbon-sequestering soil in the context of the rising global warming debate in the early 1990s. This development led to a de-contextualization of terra preta and to commodification, giving rise to the biochar industry. Commodification included mythification of terra preta, stressing its ancient, prehistoric roots. Both processes ‐ commodification and mythification ‐ can also be found within the scientific sphere. This seems to indicate that not only terra preta has become a commodity, but that also research on terra preta shows signs of commodification.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 01 January 2017
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