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Pietra Cepero Rua Perez

DCAD Fellow

DCAD Fellow in the Durham Centre for Academic Development (DCAD)
Research Postgraduate (PhD) in the Department of Geography


I am a Brazilian geographer who has been conducting research in the Brazilian Amazon region since 2011. Before joining Durham Geography in 2019, I received a BsC in Geography (2014) and a MsC in Human Geography (2018) at University of Sao Paulo.

My research interest in Amazonian studies started in 2011 when I was awarded with my first research funding from National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), and I was able to be part of a research cooperation project held by University of Sao Paulo and Federal University of Para (Procad-casadinho USP-UFPA). Since then, I have been conducting research that investigates the relationship of the peasants’ territorial struggle, the politicisation of nature, space and territory and the role of the territorialisation of capitalist and non-capitalist social relations in the process of frontier making in the Brazilian Amazon (in Para and Acre). 

Current Research Project

My current PhD project “The Politics of Nature and Mining in the Amazon: Territory, Materiality and Extraction in Pará, Brazil” investigates contemporary relations of territory, materiality and conflict in mining districts in the Brazilian Amazon. It focuses on legal and customary forms of territory emerging around two socially-contested large-scale mining projects in Pará (Carajás and Juruti). Adopting a conceptually-informed, empirically-grounded mode of analysis, the research examines and explains how nature and space are being politicised on Brazil’s extractive frontier. The research design combines qualitative, desk-based and critical cartographic methods and a period of fieldwork. Findings will deepen analysis of the extractive frontier by identifying emergent forms of territorialisation; and by explaining how these forms are shaped by interactions among extractive capital, state agencies, and the strategies and practices of ‘forest dwellers’ (a diverse category of peasant communities who practice agriculture and/or agro-extractive relations). The research draws on three complementary literatures - on neoextractivism (Gudynas 2012), extractive frontiers (Tsing, 2005; Peluso, Lund, 2011) and territories of extraction (Anthias, 2018; Bridge, 2014) – and will inform wider debates in political ecology about the role of social contestation in shaping territorial forms of resource development and conservation. The recent election of an authoritarian government in Brazil, which seeks to usher in a new ‘extractive cycle’ in the Amazon, highlights the significance of the questions posed by this research, and raises new questions about the shifting dynamics of extraction and territoriality under authoritarian regimes.