After-Eden: Narratives of Nature, Degradation, and Poverty in Amazonian Discourse

David M. Kneas

In this article, I consider the environmental narratives of an Amazonian expedition at the turn of the 21st century, called Amazon Quest, a seemingly novel program that connected a team of explorers to elementary students in the United States. Situating the program within a longer discursive history of Amazonian nature, I examine how Amazon Quest’s portrayal of contemporary Amazonia comes to be defined by degradation and poverty. Unlike many popular accounts, Amazon Quest is less a story of unspoiled nature and exotic culture and more a narrative of degraded lands and peoples. I discuss how poverty and degradation are not merely elements in Amazon Quest’s narration, but rather iconic simplifications, ways of knowing the Amazon, its landscapes, its people, and its future.

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