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Contemporary urbanization in the Brazilian Amazon: food markets, multisited households and ribeirinho livelihoods

Urbanização contemporânea na Amazônia brasileira: mercados de comida, domicílios multisitiados e modo de vida ribeirinho
L'urbanisation contemporaine en Amazonie brésilienne : marchés alimentaires, ménages multisites et moyens de subsistance des ribeirinhos
Tatiana Schor, Gustavo S. Azenha et Estevan Bartoli


La dernière décennie a été témoin de changements dans la région amazonienne. La diversité des villes et des processus d'urbanisation a montré qu'il est inadéquat d'envisager l'urbanisation comme un processus singulier. Le thème de l'urbanisation doit être discuté de manière critique et les nuances uniques qui caractérisent les dynamiques contemporaines entre les espaces ruraux et urbains en Amazonie doivent être comprises. La nourriture est un moyen de donner un aperçu des nuances de la dynamique sociale, économique, spatiale et environnementale ribeirinha. Ainsi, l'analyse des pratiques contemporaines d'acquisition et de consommation des aliments ribeirinhas, accorde une attention particulière au rôle important des marchés fluviaux dans les régimes alimentaires, qui servent de tissu conjonctif en Amazonie, reliant les établissements de la région socialement, économiquement et écologiquement. De toute évidence, il y a eu une reconfiguration et un renforcement du réseau urbain et du Système Territorial Urban-Ribeirinho en Amazonie qui ont modifié les pratiques productives et consommatrices qui caractérisent les moyens de vie des ribeirinhos. Ces pratiques changeantes ont des implications importantes pour l'utilisation des terres et les activités agricoles / extractives essentielles à la compréhension de l'urbanisation en Amazonie brésilienne.

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1The past decade has witnessed important changes in the Amazon region. The diversity of cities and urbanization processes has shown that it is inadequate to envision urbanization in the region as a singular process. Rather, urbanization needs to be understood as a variety of processes and with a multitude of complex consequences. Bartoli (2017) inspired by Italian authors of Turim who worked on territorial systems, such as Dematteis (2001), Dansero (2005) and Governa (1997), has formulated the concept of Urban-Ribeirinho Territorial Systems (Sistemas Territoriais Urbano-Ribeirinhos - STUR). The STUR framework provides an understanding of how the cities in western Amazon are an important link to traditional territories and livelihoods. Through the study of four different social groups (naval carpenters, furniture carpenters, fisherman, and indigenous associations) in Parintins/Amazonas, Bartoli reads the rural or interiors networks from the standpoint of the city and manages to understand how the city is an important node in maintaining and strengthening different territories and livelihoods.

2The concept of an Urban-Ribeirinho Territorial System - STUR (Bartoli, 2017) is an interesting key to understand contemporary urbanization in the Amazon. The extensive nature of municipalities and the specificity of the access mainly by fluvial transportation in the western section of the Brazilian Amazon (Amazonas, Roraima and Acre states) creates a unique geography in which one speaks of interior of the municipality with much more property than of rural areas (Figure 1). In the Amazon there is a close relationship of mutual dependence between the urban, characterized by the municipal seat city, and the rural, the interior of the municipality, which challenges notions of a clear separation in terms of the space of social relations and production.

3Figure1: Municipal-seat cities along the Solimões river, Amazonas and the municipal area

4Scholarly literature usually deals with this relationship as urban-rural and / or rural-city (Winklerprins and Souza, 2005; Padoch et al. 2008), but in the case of the western Amazon, we consider this dichotomy as inconsistent with reality, since both cities and the interior of the municipality cannot be compreehened separately but as two closely integrated and complementary territories.

5It is worth noting that these complex and complementary relationships between urban nuclei and other spaces are not entirely new in the Amazon, where mobility and seasonal migration has long been central to economic and social dynamics. Seasonal migration, multiple residences, and itinerancy were commonplace, with the boundaries between nomadic and sedentary lifestyles being rather opaque. The location and the fluid patterns of settlement predate colonial patterns, with households and communities having long pursued temporally and spatially diversified livelihood strategies shaped by a very dynamic environment. These generalized settlement patterns have persisted in the postcolonial period, albeit taking on new contours with technological, economic, political, demographic, social, and social changes (Roller, 2014). Despite important historical continuities, contemporary dynamics have some unique attributes and recent trends in urbanization have introduced novel patterns of interrelations and complementarities. Among the novel features of this dynamic are new forms of transportation and communication, increased extra-local market connections and dependence on imported foods, and an influx in cash in poor households from cash transfer programs and rural pensions.

6It is this reality that strengthens the notion of an Urban-Ribeirinho Territorial System (STUR) (Bartoli, 2017) as an adequate interpretation of contemporary urbanization in the Amazon. To understand these processes this paper proposes an assessment of ribeirinho livelihoods related to what we understand as an central aspect of contemporary urbanization process: access to food markets and transformation in food regimes. Bartoli´s STUR has not dealt specifically with food markets or regimes, and we argue that incorporating these aspects will complement the notion of an Urban-Ribeirinho Territorial System.

7The argument begins with a brief discussion of the interrelations between human agencies and natural processes in the historical and contemporary production of Amazonian landscapes and social dynamics. Then critically discusses the topic of urbanization, and the unique nuances that characterize contemporary dynamics between rural and urban spaces in Amazonia, the Urban-Ribeirinho Territorial System. Subsequently analyse the value of studying food as a means to provide insights into the nuances of ribeirinho social, economic, spatial, and environmental dynamics. Finally the description of contemporary ribeirinho food acquisition and consumption practices, gives special attention to the important role of roving riverine markets in food regimes, which serve as a connective tissue in the Amazon, linking settlements throughout the region socially, economically, and environmentally.

Urban Ribeirinhos

8Defining urban and rural areas in the Amazon, especially in the Western Amazon in Brazil, is extremely difficult, since cities carry out functions traditionally considered urban, but in a more rudimentary way than the term urban may typically invoke. Due to distances and lack of infrastructure, the landscape of urbanity is unique. The great extension of the municipalities, often more akin to counties rather than cities (Figure 1), the unique prevalence of fluvial transportation and the marked seasonal transformations in landscapes and human spatial occupation create a singular geography in which one speaks of interior of the municipality with much more propriety than of rural area. There exists a diversity of cities in a complex urban system. Urbanization in the Amazon can be considered an urban-diversity (urbanodiversidade) which expresses different forms of urbanization processes and different formats of cities in which diverse spaces and historical times coexist (Trindade Jr. 2015).

9In the Amazon there is a close relationship of mutual dependence between the urban, characterized by the municipal seat city, and the rural, the interior of the municipality, which merges their own characteristics in the space of social relations and production. Literature usually deals with this relationship with the appellation of urban-rural and / or rural city, but in the case of the Western Amazon, we consider these dichotomous formulations as problematic, since both cities and municipal interiors cannot be considered as entirely distinct but as two intimately related and complementary spaces. Brondizio (et al. 2016) correctly points out that the uses of the concept rural-urban in the Amazon are “more useful as heuristic tools to describe a continuum than to represent actual categories of reality” (p.348). In this perspective it is more appropriate to use the duality city-interior than rural-urban categories and understand them in the context of the Urban-Ribeirinho Territorial Systems – STUR as proposed by Bartoli (2017). For the author, who bases his analysis in an important municipality of the sub-region of the lower Amazon (Parintins), the "incomplete" economy of the city is not able to provide sustenance to the inhabitants and is still very dependent on government transfers. Re-territorialized populations in the city, inhabiting large districts originated in irregular occupations, weave continuity of relations with secondary households and areas such as surrounding communities, Indigenous Villages and Conservation Units, reactivating areas differently in order to maintain themselves.

10This multiplicity of habitats and uses implies a complex mobility between different areas of this territorial system. In the STUR the ribeirinho has seasonal mobility. Whatever primary residence is considered, being it in town or outside, it becomes possible to navigate the city-interior networks, keeping the rural or urban preferences according to the needs that can be adequately solved by the articulation of the two networks (Costa, Brondizio, 2011; Lima, Peralta, 2016; Bartoli, 2017). Knowledge about rural and forest resources and the possibility of transforming them into auto-consumption products, trade goods, or cash income is crucial for the livelihoods of individuals, households, and the ribeirinho collectivities independent of where they are based.

11It must be noted that this mobility and multisited household characteristic of the ribeirinho is not equal in all contexts. Nasuti (et al. 2015) argues that the rural-urban mobility is an indicator of economic differentiation between households. Differences related to economic activities, individual (gender and age), kinship networks and opportunities they offer, will define mobility rhythms within each household. Although an oversimplification, we can say that there is a spectrum of household paradigms that range from ribeirinhos that are relatively more city-based, who spend most of their time in the city, where most of their economic, cultural and religious activity occur, at one extreme, to ribeirinhos who are interior-based, these spend most of their time in the interior of the municipality, in small communities, big villages, or even remote forest locations, at the other extreme. Of course, there is an overlap of orientations to municipal centers and peripheries and these orientations are often seasonal. Within this perspective there are strong differentiations in terms of livelihoods and socioeconomic dynamics. Among the salient aspects of differentiation are their food regimes. Interior-based ribeirinhos have a more traditional diet based on manioc flour and fish (Adams et al. 2005), while the ribeirinhos that are more city-based have distinct alimentary habits with a greater dependence on non-traditional industrialized food items. This is a strong example of the impact of urbanization and changing economic dynamics on the livelihoods of the ribeirinhos.

The Political Ecology of Food Regimes

12Recent demographic trends in the region indicate a rapid growth of rural towns and intermediate cities as a significant feature of overall urbanization (Costa, Brondizio, 2011). These types of settlements have intimate socioeconomic interconnections with interior-based communities and economies, including periodic outmigration linked to access to public services (education, healthcare, and social welfare programs) and employment and market opportunities. Flows of people between these urban centers and interiors are “often circular and temporary, and involve multi-sited households, so the ‘rural’ and the ‘urban’ are relatively diffuse social, economic and spatial constructs” (Hecht 2014: 880). The importance of these interconnections flows and settlements constitute the base of the Urban-Ribeirinho Territorial System (Bartoli, 2017) which characterizes Amazonia in the 21st Century.

13In this intense interaction with the forest and the cities, one key aspect for understanding transformations in the Amazon and to the ribeirinho livelihood is food procurement and changing food regimes.

14Studies of food have served as useful means to discuss cultural and social change. Explorations of the interrelations between eating patterns and broad societal changes have shed light on various social transformations, such as market integration, male out-migration and other forms of migration (Lentz 1999; Mintz, Du Bois 2002). Anthropological and other social science research on food has increasingly moved beyond a more traditional focus on closed systems of productions (e.g., households, communities, and ethnic groups) to mapping transforming trends and trajectories in food regimes across wider scales, providing insights into broader social, economic, political, and territorial process (Phillips, 2006). Within geography, there has been an increase in attention to food and globalization. In the last decade, studies related to the geography of food have grown, especially in Anglo-Saxon countries. Geographers have increasingly looked at processes of production and global distribution of food (Shortridge, 2003; McEntee et al, 2011, Gatrell, 2011, Hubley, 2011).

15Studies in Brazil, for example, have found that broadly uniform national patterns exist along with unique local specificities. In a study of the Brazilian alimentary habits in 10 cities with more than one million inhabitants, Barbosa (2007) suggests that there is a significant decrease in regional components in diets. Even considering the regional differences in terms of ecosystems and alimentary preferences, urban Brazilians in different income levels and regions exhibit broadly similar patterns in when they eat (meals) and what they eat (specific foods). Rice, beans, and animal protein are the basis for most lunch and dinner meals, while black coffee, milk and bread constitute the common staples for breakfast. Importantly, Barbosa considers this homogenization of habits to be the product of earlier processes of national integration (some stretching to colonial times), rather than from recent processes of standardization via globalization. Despite identifying some consistencies across the country, Barbosa`s study also found considerable local specificities, and did not examine food cultures and habits in smaller cities and rural locales, which may deviate more strongly from the national norms.

16Geographers have examined the links between inequality, nutrition, and food security, including growing numbers of studies focused on spatial inequalities in access to nutritious food. There has been, for example, increasing attention to the issue of “Food Deserts” in poor neighborhoods of United States cities (Whelan et al., 2002; McEntee et al., 2010), Paraguay (Gartin, 2012), South Africa (Bettersby, 2012) and even in the Amazon (Davies et al. 2017).

17Davies (2017) analyzes five very different cities in the Amazonas state in Brazil to consider the applicability of the concept of “food deserts”. They conclude after an elaborated GIS-statistical method that “the first examination of food deserts in a rainforest context, this article has demonstrated that food deserts appear to be widespread in urban centers, regardless of their size” (Davies, 2017:15). This research is an example of how the understanding of the complex Urban-Ribeirinho Territorial Systems is essential to the comprehension of the livelihoods and urban dynamics in the Amazon. The research conducted by Davies missed important aspects of the ribeirinho livelihood, even of those more city-based, with regard to access to food such as different food market structures, consumer habits and overall functioning of the Urban-Ribeirinho Territorial Systems which supplements local markets. This study lacks the understanding of access to food (healthy or not) in Amazonian towns as it does not consider the complex networks established by the Urban-Ribeirinho Territorial Systems. In order to undersatnd food procurement and access it is necessary to incorporate the strong relationship with the interiors not only in terms of what is brought into town but also how the Urban-Ribeirinho Territorial Systems define transformations and permanencies in local livelihoods. The fact that no fruit for sale in local markets does not mean that fruits are not consumed in the households, on the contrary, depending on the season some fruits are so abundant that there is no price in the market and thus the economy of affection as described by Winklerprins and Souza (2005) functions as an important aspect of ribeirinho sociabilization. In this sense it is incorrect to construct the idea of “food deserts” in areas where the STUR functions.

Food Consumption and Nutritional Changes

18The contemporary food regime of the Western Amazon basin, with its fleet of floating markets and increasing availability of cheap goods imported from outside the region (supported by land, labor, agricultural, and industrial policies) results in a competitive advantage of industrialized products over the local production of fresh food—albeit with seasonal variations—since there is no agro-industrial system in the region and policy efforts to stimulate local agricultural production are limited or absent.

19It is also important to consider the network of distribution of food commodities strongly centered in Manaus that acquires them from other regions of the country. The impact of cheaper products on local agriculture and alimentary habits is a direct consequence of the well-structured network of product distribution from traditional agribusiness hubs such as Uberlândia (Triangulo Mineiro), southeastern Brazil, and Paraná state in the south. In 2010 Uberlândia, through mutual agreement between Amazonas and Minas Gerais state governments, became an official warehouse for the Manaus Free Trade Zone. With the function of receiving industrialized products from the Manaus Industrial Pole and distributing industrialized goods to Manaus, specially food, from Minas Gerais and other areas in Brazil, under a tax exemption policy, this legal warehouse has re-structured the distribution market of food in Amazonas state.

20Agriculture and land use in Brazil is strongly influenced by the agribusiness industry, which exerts considerable political influence at local and national scales. In this context, the prevailing model of production is characterized by extensive land use, heavy land concentration, monocultural systems, high input use, and socioenvironmental degradation. This has yielded an oligopolic food industry that has limited distribution channels and market opportunities for smaller scale producers.

21This process of displacing aspects of local food practices with those produced by the national agribusiness modifies the food habits in the Amazon and, consequently, the region's cultural habits (Schor, Costa, 2013; Costa, 2015). Besides its negative implications for the local economy (by undermining local food production and its cost competitiveness), the insertion of these industrialized products brought from outside the region can often compromise the nutritional quality of alimentary practices, causing an increase in the quantity of sugars, fats, and salt from industrialized products. The Amazon, despite the abundance of tropical fish and fruits, follows the national and global pattern of a significant increase in obesity and diseases related to inadequate diet such as diabetes and hypertension. The increase in these non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is linked to the adoption of modern diets with high amounts of carbohydrates, added sugars, salt, and food additives with inadequate amounts of fruits and vegetables. In developing regions like the Amazon, you now often have a “double burden” of nutritional deficiencies, including the more longstanding concerns with malnourishment and micronutrient deficiencies in combination with the more recent phenomena of an increasing NCD burden (IBGE, 2010; Schmidt et al. 2011).

22Food serves as a symbol that marks and indexes socials statuses and boundaries. With changing food regimes in the Amazon, specific foods have come to embody social distinctions such as socioeconomic class and degrees of rurality/urbanity. Murrieta (2001) found in a survey carried out in communities on an island located in the state of Pará that rice "is represented locally as an urban food, and is generally connected to the middle class, occupying the other end of the spectrum in relation to manioc flour, which is represented as a food of 'place', and incorporated in a certain way to the 'being caboclo'” (page 60).

23The author analyzes that rice can be considered urban and connected to the middle class, but as Costa (2015) shows, almost 100% of the population interviewed, in the three cities along the Solimões River, consumed rice daily. Despite these associations, this food is not only part of the urban, but also the rural environment. With access to money, mainly through various government social programs, people can have access to several products, even far from urban centers. In this regard, "the acquisition of imported and industrialized food products is still directly linked to the proximity of urban centers and access to money" (Murrieta 2001: 60). Murrieta considers the presence of these "imported" products such as rice and canned foods as sporadic events at the table of several rural families in the Amazon. Perhaps, that was the case for 2001, but the picture has changed in many communities, with a generalized increase in the role of industrial goods in rural diets (and even more pronounced in urban centers). This can be considered a result of the Urban-Ribeirinho Territorial systems where fluxes of material and immaterial goods consolidate the complex urban system.

24In a study carried out by Gabriela Fantoni Soberon (2014) on the impacts of the Bolsa Família Program on the Yanomami Indigenous Territory in the Marawa River Basin (AM), rice also appeared as the most purchased food product. This fact is justified by the ease of storage and transportation, as well as being an accompaniment to traditional foods. Rice also appears as one of the main products purchased monthly by ribeirinho households in communities located in the Solimões River near Tefé, Alvarães and Uarini in the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve (Jesus et al. 2016). This pattern indicates that these communities, indigenous and ribeirinhos, are increasingly approximating a broader Brazilian conception of meals in which rice is a major component (90% of Brazilians interviewed eat rice as one of the components of either lunch or dinner or both (Barbosa 2007)). The increasing consumption of rice is not in itself necessarily bad. It can form a part of a healthy diet and fortified rice can help address nutritional deficiencies; however, too much consumption of rice and other starchy foods can contribute to NCDs. Furthermore, the increased consumption of rice is often accompanied by, and indicative of, the increased consumption of other industrialized goods that are nutritionally detrimental.

25Although markets are increasingly an important institution in terms of acquiring food, traditional forms of access to food (subsistence production, hunting, fishing, extractive and non-monetary exchanges) are still an important source of access to food. This is a reality of the Amazon where all forms of extractives and hunting are still possible and in which production for auto-consumption and non-monetary exchange relations are persistent and important elements of the local culture (Winklerprins, Souza, 2005; Padoch et al., 2008; Noda, 2011, Schor et al. 2015).

26Despite a general trend of increased dependence on industrialized food, these are localized within existing food practices, with specific mixtures of “modern” and “traditional” foods exhibiting considerable spatial and socioeconomic variability. Nonetheless, changes have been rapid and notable, raising important questions about changing socioenvironmental relations in ribeirinho communities.

Food Distribution in the Várzea

27The hydrologic regime of the Amazon basin establishes traditional food regimes and the connection between cities. River transport establishes a link between the cities and towns. The boats, locally called “Recreios” are responsible for transporting people and goods, serving as principal vectors connecting networks of communities and the regionalization and globalization of food and forest products. The Recreios buy and resell products, serving as key agent in market structures, playing a primary role in the distribution and marketing of goods. Such differentiated functionality implies a high degree of influence of transport in socially and economically interconnecting the urban network of Amazonas.

28The options made by these companies on what to sell have an important impact on alimentary habits as the boats function as mobile supermarkets and distributors. Industrially produced, processed foods, such as soft drinks, beer, pre-cooked pasta, are the main products offered (Figure 2 and 3). These Recreios have their own credit system with the small commercial houses in the cities and vilas. It is common for local merchants to incur debts with the transport companies creating a strong and complex relationship which renders the local merchants dependent on the Recreios and limited to the produce that they offer.

29It is important here to make a few brief notes about the historical genesis and context of Recreios and their role in spatial occupation and in market dynamics. The Recreios are a new generation of the Regatões, which were the boats that supplied the latex-farms (seringais) and established a relationship with latex-extractors that has been considered as “slavery by debt” called aviamento. The commercial logic of going up the river with the boat stacked with industrialized goods such as canned meat, soybean oil, sugar, salt and other food produces, selling them with a considerable profit margin and indebting locals and then returning with local produce such as river turtles, dried fish, açaí, persists with the Recreios. Now the Recreios also go up the river with tons of products and return with empty gallons of mineral water (Figure 2) and local produce such as watermelon, pineapple and manioc flour.

Figure 1: Empty mineral water gallons waiting for a Recreio at São Paulo de Olivença floating port, Amazonas.

Figure 1: Empty mineral water gallons waiting for a Recreio at São Paulo de Olivença floating port, Amazonas.

Author: Tatiana Schor (April 2015), Collection : NEPECAB. 2015.

30It is noteworthy that the connection of Recreios with Regatões is not merely historical, but personal and familial. Many of these Recreios are originated from the families of those Regatões, a clear historical continuum. The Voyager fleet, with five Recreios that supply the cities along the Solimões river, is an example of this historical continuum (Figure 3). Besides their central role in markets and food regimes in Amazonian river basins, the itineraries of both the Recreios and Regatões have shaped, and have been shaped by, settlement patterns, and thereby play a central role in the territorial occupation of the region and its patterns of urbanization.

Figure 2: N/M Voyager IV.

Figure 2: N/M Voyager IV.

This boat supplies all cities and most villages along the Solimões River from Fonte Boa to Tabatinga, Amazonas. There is a fluvial bank agency on board. Inside the boat there are piles of soft drinks and other processed and ultra-processed foods and drinks that will supply local supermarkets.

Pictures: Gabriela Colares (Aug 2015) Collection NEPECAB, 2015

31An important element in understanding the changing nature of diets and food regimes in the Amazon is the increased monetization of the economy resulting from social programs, which have increased engagements in the cash economy and strengthened the role of Recreios in ribeirinho food regimes. The Urban-Ribeirinho Territorial System is not closed in itself, on the contrary, reflects the contemporary engagements of local ribeirinhos, city or interior based, with the contemporary urbanization processes, in this case with the internalization of modern food diets made possible by the Brazilian agroindustry and distribution network which incorporates new technologies with status quo structures such as the Recreios.

32An important consideration regarding the spatial behavior of the popular economy of small and medium-sized cities in the Amazon is related to the ability of urban-river navigation to reach distant points of the territory. One of the central points of the STUR notion is how vessels form an articulating axis between the urban node and surrounding areas. The distribution of industrialized goods also occurs through small and medium vessels that supply riverine communities and indigenous villages. In the case of Parintins they are called barges (Batelões). These Batelões (Figure 4) are not an exclusive transportation system for this purpose, the existence of boat-owner merchants that carry out such routes is linked to the connections they have with interior communities.

Figure 4: A “Batelão” linking Parintins, Amazonas to it’s interior, 2016.

Figure 4: A “Batelão” linking Parintins, Amazonas to it’s interior, 2016.

Source: Estevan Bartoli, 2016.

33These smaller vessels are the result of the long-term interaction of populations with the surrounding environment. The social role of river transport relies on the presence of cities as a conditional link for the maintenance of the activity: financing, spare-parts, services, labor and, above all, the knowledge of experienced artisan builders in old shipyards. Usually owned by old residents that migrated to the city, possessing the know-how to transit-navigate the territory these Batelões have an important role in terms of integration the interiors to the national food market, with products such as industrialized chicken and hot-dogs (Figure 5).

Figure 5 – Small quantities of food products (hot-dogs and industrialized chicken) sold by smaller vessels, the local barges, Parintins.

Figure 5 – Small quantities of food products (hot-dogs and industrialized chicken) sold by smaller vessels, the local barges, Parintins.

Source: Estevan Bartoli, 2016.

34The Recreios and Batelões represent the complexity of the food regimes based strongly on roverine markets that structure the Urban-Ribeirinho Territorial System in the Amazon.

Final considerations

35Clearly there has been a reconfiguration and strengthening of the urban network and the Urban-Ribeirinho Territorial System in the Amazon which have changed consumptive and productive practices that characterize ribeirinho livelihoods. These changing consumptive and productive practices have important implications for land use and agricultural/extractive activities. Importantly, this generalized shift in food acquisition practices “by no means suggests that annual cropping completely stops, but rather that annual cropping becomes more a supplement and security than a subsistence strategy. This has many implications for agrodiversity, regional landscapes, indigenous knowledge systems and nutritional profiles for those who move from their own production to more processed food” (Hecht 2014: 889).

36Besides the greater dependence on cash markets, an important factor in changing livelihoods, food practices, and spatial occupation is environmental policy. The creation of conservation units and the strengthening of environmental governance efforts have led to numerous important changes in resource use. Bans and restrictions (including seasonal ones) on some extractive activities have placed limitations on some forms of traditional food acquisition (e.g., hunting).

37At the same time, the presence of Conservation Units and Indigenous Lands in the surroundings of cities, has allowed reconfiguration of the way in which riverside populations reorder such fractions of the territory. By constantly visiting the city, with more frequent contacts with diverse institutions, educational networks, NGOs and many other forms of mediations, they begin to use the city to produce their territories of influence. Significant examples in the Amazon are found in the medium Solimões (Mamirauá Reserve with its intense influence of NGOs), and in fishing agreements established throughout the state. According to the analysis in Bartoli (2017), the reterritorialization of populations allows "returns to territories from the city", imposing on the STUR enormous vivacity.

38Understanding the complexity of the ribeirinho livelihood in contemporary urbanization process in the Amazon is an essential condition to the understanding of the functioning of this biome in its multiple bio-social diversity. Forms of food production, procurement, commercialization linked to distinguished forms of urbanization that the STUR helps understand is without a doubt an interesting standpoint with which this article has tried to argue.


40This article was produced in the context of the Ruth Cardoso Chair at the Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies, ILAS – Columbia University, with grant of Fulbright-CAPES, 2016-2017 and a CNPq-PQ Research Grant 302659/2015-3

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Table des illustrations

Fichier image/jpeg, 124k
Titre Figure 1: Empty mineral water gallons waiting for a Recreio at São Paulo de Olivença floating port, Amazonas.
Crédits Author: Tatiana Schor (April 2015), Collection : NEPECAB. 2015.
Fichier image/jpeg, 540k
Titre Figure 2: N/M Voyager IV.
Légende This boat supplies all cities and most villages along the Solimões River from Fonte Boa to Tabatinga, Amazonas. There is a fluvial bank agency on board. Inside the boat there are piles of soft drinks and other processed and ultra-processed foods and drinks that will supply local supermarkets.
Crédits Pictures: Gabriela Colares (Aug 2015) Collection NEPECAB, 2015
Fichier image/jpeg, 324k
Titre Figure 4: A “Batelão” linking Parintins, Amazonas to it’s interior, 2016.
Crédits Source: Estevan Bartoli, 2016.
Fichier image/jpeg, 204k
Titre Figure 5 – Small quantities of food products (hot-dogs and industrialized chicken) sold by smaller vessels, the local barges, Parintins.
Crédits Source: Estevan Bartoli, 2016.
Fichier image/jpeg, 155k
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Tatiana Schor, Gustavo S. Azenha et Estevan Bartoli, « Contemporary urbanization in the Brazilian Amazon: food markets, multisited households and ribeirinho livelihoods »Confins [En ligne], 37 | 2018, mis en ligne le 04 octobre 2018, consulté le 07 décembre 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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Tatiana Schor

Universidade Federal do Amazonas, Departamento de Geografia, NEPECAB, CNPq – PQ Researcher,

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Gustavo S. Azenha

Executive Director, Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS), Columbia University,

Estevan Bartoli

Universidade do Estado do Amazonas,

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