Indigenous History, Historical Ecology, and the Environmental Tipping Point in the Southern Amazon

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Alumni, Community, Faculty, Staff, Students

Morgan Schmidt is a geographer, archaeologist, and Post-doctoral Associate in the Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science Department at MIT. His research combines geography, archaeology, ethnography and soil science to study historical landscapes and the formation of Amazonian dark earth or terra preta in partnership with the Kuikuro Community located in the Upper Xingu.

Xingu Indigenous Territory stands out as an island of green forest surrounded by deforestation. Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the Upper Xingu was a populous complex society with large, interconnected town and villages and a fully domesticated cultural landscape. The population was drastically reduced from conflicts and epidemics after the arrival of Bandeirantes and Old World diseases. Surviving indigenous communities in the southern Amazon's Arc of Deforestation have seen drastic changes in the past two decades with deforestation and encroachment on their land and waters from the surrounding non-indigenous culture. This has provoked severe droughts and devastating forest fires brought on by deforestation and climate change, causing the region to reach a possible tipping point of forest loss and environmental degradation.

This presentation will provide examples of the above phenomena and current events in the region, with an update on recent measures to combat COVID-19 with the Kuikuru tribe. March 30, 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Location Information

Contact Information

Jim Penn, Department of Geography and Sustainable Planning.  331-8522,

Hosting Department, Organization, or Business

Latin Americana and Latino/a Studies program and the Department of Geography and Sustainable Planning


academic presentation

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This event was added to the calendar by James Penn ( on Tuesday, March 23, 2021 and was last updated on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 at 4:54 p.m.