18 September 2023
Banzeiro Okoto - the Amazon as the Centre of the World
Award winning Brazilian journalist Eliane Brum discussed her new book "Banzeiro Okoto - the Amazon as the Centre of the World" with the Transnational Law Institute's Co-director Professor Octavio Ferraz in front of a sold-out venue
On Tuesday 12 September, Eliane Brum joined Professor Octavio Ferraz, co-director of the Transnational Law Institute, to discuss her newest book: "Banzeiro Òkòtó - the Amazon as the Centre of the World". The sold-out event took place in the London Review of Books Shop in central London and was attended by more than 80 people.
The title Banzeiro Òkòtó features words from two cultural and linguistic traditions: banzeiro is what the Amazon people call the place where the river turns into a fearsome vortex, and òkòtó is the Yoruba word for a shell that spirals outward into infinity. Like the Xingu River, turning as it flows, this book is a fierce document of transformation arguing for the centrality of the Amazon to all our lives.
In lyrical, impassioned prose, Eliane Brum recounts her move from São Paulo to Altamira, a city along the Xingu River that has been devastated by the construction of one of the largest dams in the world. In community with the human and more-than-human world of the Amazon, Brum seeks to ‘reforest’ herself while building relationships with forest peoples who carry both the scars and the resistance of the forest in their bodies.
Weaving together the lived stories of the region and its history of violent corruption and destruction, Banzeiro Òkòtó is a call for radical change, for the creation of a new kind of human being capable of facing the potential extinction of our species. In it, Brum reveals the direct links between structural inequities rooted in gender, race, class, and even species, and the suffering that capitalism and climate breakdown wreak on those who are least responsible for them.
The discussion of the book also celebrated the partnership established between the Transnational Law Institute and Sumaúma: Journalism from the Centre of the World, a trilingual news platform based in Altamira, in the Amazon rainforest founded and directed by Eliane Brum and Jonathan watts, the Guardian’s global environmental editor. The partnership is part of the project The Laws of our Sustainable Future and will co-produce investigative research and publications about the responsibility of transnational corporations in environmental harm and human rights violations in the Amazon, the largest tropical forest of the world and a key resource to fight climate change.
The podcast of the event will be available soon.
Eliane Brum is an award-winning Brazilian journalist, writer, and documentarist. Her work of nonfiction, The Collector of Leftover Souls, was long-listed for the National Book Award for translated literature. She is a founder and editor of Sumaúma, a columnist for the international section of El País among other European and US newspapers and magazines. Her work as a journalist has won more than 40 prizes.