Ways to postpone the end of the world in the Anthropocene era

Image: ColeraAlegria


Can indigenous cinema, understood as that made by indigenous people themselves, operate as a way of postponing the world of the Anthropocene era?

Faced with a scenario of political, climatic, health and setback catastrophes – at the moment I write this text, the Chamber and its Ruralist Bench approve Bill 490/2007, an attack on the original peoples and which violates the demarcation legislation of indigenous lands –, indigenous film collectives have resorted to the political uses of audiovisual resources as ways of making possible worlds, in a way that also postpones the end of the world, to use an expression by Ailton Krenak[I], or stop the sky from falling down on us.

Understood as an ecological destabilization permeated by reactionary and denial of other and possible worlds, the term Anthropocene refers to the brutalism of the world. The Current Geological and Ecological Epoch, Paul J. Crutzen and Eugene F. Stoermer[ii] call the Anthropocene era, which arises from the “extensive and still increasing impacts of human activities on the earth, in the atmosphere and at all scales, including the global one”. For Marisol De La Cadena[iii], “the Anthropocene refers to the era in which humans became a geological force capable of planetary destruction”, a moment of implosion and destruction of other worlds.

While the current Government is carrying out tough attacks on the Amazon and indigenous peoples, which “pass the cattle”[iv], indigenous collective experiences have permeated the use of technological tools in the field of communication, which implies, in turn, a political use of the audiovisual to show the social and political realities of peoples who have been facing frequent violent evictions from their traditional territories , assassinations of leaders and a context of extreme violence in the resumption of their lands.

As an alternative to this regime of attack on forms of life, aggressively modified by human action, the theme of Amerindian cosmopolitics is present when entering the images constructed by indigenous filmmakers, allowing a reconnection with the world of spirituality, at the same time in which they politicize Nature, by reactivating prayer as a form of resistance and cure for the consequences of deforestation, invasions and expropriations. They are the opportunities for other ways of doing politics, no longer without animism and without the cosmos, that the aura of modernism or the western conception of politics separated.

As an example of these ways of postponing the end of the world, I mention the web series of short films Native Narratives: aiming at possible worlds, produced by Ascuri (Association of Indigenous Directors of Mato Grosso do Sul)[v]. Divided into three episodes, the series narrates how the Guarani, Kaiowá and Terena peoples have managed cosmological relations with the Earth in the context of the new coronavirus pandemic and ecosystem changes.

Despite clearly showing the pandemic as a consequence of an ecological crisis or an ontological war between worlds, the short films bring to the foreground the resumption of possible links with the land and with a political perspective on cultivation. In this case, it is not a question of a debate about the place of speech, but a passage to the speech of places, that is, nature takes its place as an agent that broadens the subjectivity of other worlds.

Thus, in the three episodes that make up the series, the centrality of the narratives is in the Guarani and Kaiowá cosmology and in the knowledge that it is only possible to occur where there are the elements that constitute it, such as the river and the forest. The first of the episodes is the Teko Marangatu, which raises the issue of inhabiting and being the earth in a context of human disturbance and a crisis of habitability in times of denialism and a genocidal policy;  the second, Ary Vai, the cosmological action is to prevent the disease “that white people call coronavirus” from reaching the village, and the third, Yvyra'i Jegua, moves the theme of the cultivation of the territory and corn which, in addition to being used in prayer rituals, is part of a co-evolutionary domestication process, undergoing phenotypic changes in its appearance, for example.

I propose here a discussion about the cosmological elements that cross the respective films and that, above all, have been an articulating practice of indigenous documentary cinematographic production, in its aesthetic aspects and, from Ailton Krenak, raise the following question: can indigenous cinema , understood as that made by the indigenous people themselves, operate as a way of postponing the world of the Anthropocene era? Although this question exerts an influence on the proposal of this text, its reflection does not end here.

*Iago Porfirio is a doctoral candidate in Contemporary Communication and Culture at UFBAHe is the author of the novel-report God went to sleep: life stories from the Cidade de Deus favela (third copy).


[I] KRENAK, Ailton. Ideas for postponing the end of the world🇧🇷 São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2019.

[ii] CRUTZEN, Paul J.; STOERMER Eugene F. “The Anthropocene.” Global Change Newsletter. 41, 17-18, 2000.

[iii] DE LA CADENA, Marisol. Unusual nature: stories of the anthropo-blind. in: Magazine of the Institute of Brazilian Studies, no. 69. Entreviver Dossier – Contemporary Cosmopolitical Challenges, 2018.

[iv] In May 2020, the STF (Federal Supreme Court) authorized the dissemination by the media of a ministerial meeting of the current government, in which the then former Minister of Education, Abraham Weintraub, says he hates the expression “indigenous peoples”, while, among other barbarities, the former Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, says that it is necessary to “pass the cattle” to change environmental regulations, as the media would be preoccupied with covering the pandemic.

[v] The series has the support and supervision of Iván Molina, Quechua filmmaker and professor at ECA (Escuela de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales) in La Paz, Bolivia, and partner of ASCURI. Available at: https://redecineflecha.org/mirando-mundos-possiveis/.

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