Amazon Fire magazine spread

Seavitt Nordenson Publishes Opinion Piece on Amazon Sovereignty

Catherine Seavitt Nordenson

Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture Catherine Seavitt Nordenson reflects on who owns the Amazon and the question of sovereignty in the February 2020 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine. Her opinion piece, “Amazon Fire,” examines the legal battle between, Inc. and the eight South American countries that share the Amazon River’s vast watershed: Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Suriname, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, and Guyana.

CEO Jeff Bezos’s company seeks to own .amazon — the domain name, that is. Seavitt traces the long history of Brazil’s own claims of Amazon sovereignty, including the current president Jair Bolsonaro’s defensive stance at the Group of 7 and United Nations summits in the face of recent devastating forest fires. She also reflects on complicit American corporate meddling and resource extraction within the Amazon Basin — from Henry Ford to the Jari project — for over a century. Seavitt, whose recent book Depositions: Roberto Burle Marx and Public Landscapes Under Dictatorship addresses similar forest politics under the military regime, also cites Burle Marx’s 1976 speech to Brazil’s National Congress in which he accused multinational corporate interests operating in the Amazon of ecological genocide.