Mapping Grounds for Reparations in Jaraguá Peak
For the Guarani Mbya, ka’aguy (Atlantic Forest) is sacred. Yet, only 12 percent of the Atlantic Forest original coverage remains. A portion of that is in Jaraguá Peak. The Peak is also the highest point within São Paulo, located in the northwest region of the city. Anyone who lives in São Paulo knows Jaraguá Peak as a point of visual reference—the only forested area rising above dense urbanism. Two hundred years ago, São Paulo was ka’aguy. Now, the city occupies part of Guarani territory, which spans across the borders of what is now known as Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. São Paulo exists entirely within Guarani territory.
São Paulo’s urban growth and the expansion of infrastructural networks (roads, power lines, dams) have disrupted Guarani infrastructures (the presence of Atlantic Forest, the continuity of paths between Guarani villages, access to clean water). The three busiest roads in São Paulo—the first began in 1940—cut through the peak area. Since the roads opened for car use, urban growth, starting on the roads’ borders, have encroached continuously on the Atlantic Forest. The São Paulo state government also transformed the peak into a state park for tourism, 60% of which overlaps Jaraguá Indigenous Land, demarcated for the Guarani. Two telecommunication towers installed at the top of the peak in the 1960s broadcast electromagnetic pollution over the Atlantic Forest and its inhabitants. Nonetheless, Guarani communities in São Paulo remake Guarani geographies every day, resisting Atlantic Forest encroachment and circumventing colonial networks. Guarani communities in the north and south of São Paulo hold a crucial infrastructural and environmental role for the entire city, increasing São Paulo’s environmental security by recovering degraded soils and recuperating Atlantic Forest areas.
This project maps the history of infrastructural expansion in Jaraguá Peak. It represents the history of each infrastructural layer (roads, telecommunication towers, power lines) in sectional maps that expose long-term changes on the ground. Each map accompanies a set of case studies that received reparations for infrastructural harm. Maps and case studies are organized in appendix-tools, which can serve as detachable documents from the larger body of the thesis. Each appendix-tool (infrastructural reparations cases for reference, activist mapping, and public engagement strategies) aspires to contribute to Guarani activism.
This page includes a preview of my MED thesis project: Mapping Grounds for Reparations in Jaraguá Peak. Learning from ground perspectives and from Guarani oral histories, the work asks how São Paulo’s history of urban growth and infrastructural expansion assumes different contours when focusing on the history of Atlantic Forest deforestation. A shift that decenters São Paulo’s history to center on Guarani territory and Atlantic Forest history can foreground unaccounted forms of violence which São Paulo’s growth allowed, as well as present and future initiatives of ground repair.
Sectional maps reveal the history of ground change not perceptible in “top-down” maps and expose the history of deforestation, ground perforation, and extraction caused by roads, telecommunication towers and power lines construction in Jaraguá Peak. This work was produced by a juruá (Guarani Mbya term for non-Indigenous, white, settler). For this reason, this work carries contradictions and limits of translation. Instead of aiming accuracy and fixture, sectional maps foreground contradictory, uncertain, and ever shifting ground relations.
Big part of this research was the question of how to make a document. How does a document travel and perform, talk with interlocutors, or serve for government pressure? As an attempt to communicate with multiple audiences, I tried four different forms of document: appendix-tools, a website, a folder with spatial evidence for download, and an activist document database. My trajectory during the Master of Environmental Design was full of collaborations which made this work possible, this work is indebted to many. The work continues despite my graduation, as a proposal of long term activist research project.