This chapter from the book "The Word for World is Still Forest" Intercalations4 questions the general understanding of Amazon Rain Forest as a purely natural place. The view of the west European colonial mindset tends to see this area as a resourceful setting where non-complex cultures live. This conceptualisation underestimates the significant cultures of indigenous tribes and their intimate interaction with non-human entities.  With the help of satellite vision and consultancy of the Forensic Architecture, the research transcribed into this text aims to make visible these cultures and also critical methods for de-colonising Amazon, the city and our mids. 

Images of Nature – Landscapes of Violence 

In a ground-breaking study published in 1989, Balée estimated that at least 11.8 percent of Amazonia is composed of anthropogenic forests. This is the equivalent of imagining a territory larger than France covered by an extremely biodiverse environment engineered by Indigenous landscape managing systems." Since then, new archaeological findings have demonstrated that this figure is probably much higher, thus confirming that the of the Earth's most biodiverse territory is as rich in past culture as in nature. In other words, the rainforest's botanical structure and biological composition is to a great extent an "urban heritage" of Indigenous designs.

 Amazonia has long figured as the quintessential representation of nature in the imaginary and epistemic constructions of Western culture and sciences, but as the archaeology of the recent and the deep past of the forest reveals, this image of nature is, in fact, a product of colonial violence. Rather than evidence of lack, the alleged absence of architectural evidence in the forest landscape indicates limitations in the ways that modern knowledge has interpreted the humanized landscapes of Amazonia. The fabrication of this epistemology was intimately connected to colonial imaginaries that functioned as one of the most powerful and enduring instruments in the historical extermination of Indigenous peoples.

 The forest ruins show that violence has been a factor in shaping the representations and environs of Amazonia at the same time as they make visible how dominant notions of society and nature served to inform and legitimize such violence. As we investigate and learn the histories of these living ruins, they start to reveal alternative modes of conceiving and organizing the relations between populations and environments, describing spatial technologies that were capable of "producing nature.' much alive in the memory and everyday practices of forest determining" These biodiversity-enhancing designs are very peoples. The protection of their land rights thus also means the design of a more resilient planetary ecological system in the face of ruinous anthropogenic climate change.

De-Colonizing the City

Observing the architecture of Indigenous modes of inhabitation in Amazonia requires a radical shift in perspective and an exercise in the decolonization of the gaze. Instead of ser absence of the city, it is the very concept of the city that has to be widened and transformed. The spatial distribution of tree and plant species, the geometry of the canopy, the mosaic patterns of forest formations, mild variations in relief and topography, differences in soil composition, etc., are all indexes of specific forms of social assemblages, "architectural records” that are the product of complex interactions between human actions, environmental forces, and the agency of other nonhuman entities themselves co-participants in the "design of the forest”.
The Political Nature Of The Forest: A Botanic Archeology Of Genocide