Thursday, 16 August 2012

Brazilian Pantanal’s Festivities: Dialogue between culture and nature

Brazilian Pantanal’s Festivities: Dialogue between culture and nature


The traditional community of San Pedro de Joselândia in the municipality of Baron Melgaço, in the Pantanal of Mato Grosso – Brazil, preserves a vast cultural tradition closely related to the native home in which its inhabitants established roots that were consolidated in the seasonality of this wetland. This narrative focuses on the partial results of research[3] that has sought to understand the relationships within Cultural Ecosystem Services (Traditional Festivities), and seeks to recover an alternative and more sustainable relationship between humans and their environments.

Despite being a community with poor health standards, little access to medicine and a reduced quality of life, inhabitants of Joselandia declare themselves to be very happy. To understand the community perception about the festivity and its relation to the environment, our methodology was based on observations, interviews, courses, workshops, and perception in the light of phenomenology. Our research involved 56 interviews, conducted directly with the major partiers, former party-goers, employees and participants of the festivities. To comprehend the results, we constructed interaction diagrams of dimensions of cultural services and the constituents of well-being: identity, heritage, spirituality, inspiration, beauty, leisure / tourism.

From the interviews, we can understand that spiritual service is highly relevant to the community, and in terms of the Millennium Methodology, it is the strongest service available, because it establishes a connection with all the constituents of well-being. With regard to quality of life, there is a strong tradition of alternative medicines – such as medicinal plants, traditional healers or faith – in the treatment of diseases, indicating a wide and rich range of traditional knowledge, but also that the community suffers the lack of basic health services.

Cultural heritage needs to be studied with more emphasis. Particularly important is the identification of a heritage to be protected, which is that the parties demonstrate that they are a specific wetland people who know how to live and cope with the seasonality of flood and drought typical of a wetland. 

Inspirational and Aesthetic dimensions are strongly related to social relations and basic materials, but there is lack of security, since we consider that the protection of the Pantanal is extremely vulnerable to current environmental policies, which also affects the system of conservation of heritage and local heritage. The conservation of traditional knowledge is intrinsically related to the Pantanal protection, and environmental education can play an important role in linking culture and nature for local sustainability.

[1] PhD student at Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT) – environmental educator at State Secretary od Environment (SEMA).
[2] UFMT professor, researcher and leader of environmental education, communication and art research group –
[3] Research supported by National Institute for Science and Technology (CNPq/MCT) and Institute for Science and Technology of Wetlands (INAU), co-ordinated by Centre of Pantanal Research (CPP).


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