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The Life and Death of a Minke Whale in the Amazon: Dispatches from the Brazilian Rainforest

The Life and Death of a Minke Whale in the Amazon: Dispatches from the Brazilian Rainforest

As the Amazon burns, Fábio Zuker shares stories of resistance, self-determination, and kinship with the land.

In 2007, a seven-ton minke whale was found stranded on the banks of the Tapajós River, hundreds of miles into the Amazon rainforest. For days, environmentalists, journalists, and locals followed the lost whale, hoping to guide her back to the ocean, but ultimately proved unable to save her. Ten years later, journalist Fábio Zuker travels to the state of Pará, to the town known as “the place where the whale appeared,” which developers are now eyeing for mining, timber, and soybean cultivation.

In these essays, Zuker shares intimate stories of life in the rainforest and its surrounding cities during an age of raging wildfires, mass migration, populist politics, and increasing deforestation. As a group of Venezuelan migrants wait at a bus station in Manaus, looking for a place more stable than home, an elder in Alter do Chão becomes the first Indigenous person in Brazil to die from COVID-19 after years of fighting for the rights and recognition of the Borari people.

The subjects Zuker interviews are often torn between ties with their ancestral territories and the push for capitalist gain; The Life and Death of a Minke Whale in the Amazon captures the friction between their worlds and the resilience of movements for autonomy, self-definition, and respect for the land that nourishes us.

Introduction: Writing as the Projection of Worlds

Chapter 1. A Forest in Flames

Chapter 2. Brazilians and Venezuelans: A Chronicle of Hatred and Compassion

Chapter 3. The Life and Death of a Minke Whale in the Amazon

Chapter 4. An Afternoon with Venezuelans at the Manaus Bus Terminal Overpass

Chapter 5. The Self-Demarcation of Tupinambá Indigenous Land in the Lower Tapajós River Basin

Chapter 6. Anamã: Six Months Underwater, Six Months on Dry Land

Chapter 7. The Poison Fields

Chapter 8. “Nature Herself Is Drying Up”: A Quilombo on the Marajó Archipelago Feels the Impact of Bice Paddies amid Turbulent Times

Chapter 9. The Kumuã of the Upper Rio Negro and the Decolonization of Indigenous Bodies

Chapter 10. Between the Festival and the Fight: The Life of the First Indigenous Person in Brazil to Die from COVID-19

Chapter 11. In the Midst of a Pandemic, Belo MonteIs Suffocating the Xingu

Epilogue: Writing Nearby

Glossary

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