I am a cultural anthropologist interested in human-environment interactions in the Brazilian Amazon. My research seeks to understand Amazonian livelihoods and land uses in relation to political and economic drivers, but also to expand the view through attention to cultural factors, such as ideals of work, nature, and masculinity, as well as food and landscape preferences. The goal is to understand why destructive environmental practices, particularly cattle raising and gold mining, make sense from the perspectives of different actors.


"Why the Amazon is Burning"
Jeffrey Hoelle
Los Angeles Times, Aug. 27,2019

    Last week, I sat in a restaurant in a small town called Tabatinga in northwestern Amazonia. Looking out to the street, through the haze, I could see the moon was stained pink by the smoke of burning rainforest. President Jair Bolsonaro thundered on the restaurant’s TV, asking how could Europeans tell Brazil what to do with the Amazon, after they had cut down all of their forests?

    What Bolsonaro says is routinely echoed by many people in this town and throughout the Amazon. In fact, long before Bolsonaro became known as a presidential candidate with a knack for polemical statements, I heard similar sentiments from farmers and ranchers frustrated over environmental regulations..... read more

"Jeff is in the house" discusses the spatial and conceptual boundaries that separate humans and animals in the Amazon, and how sometimes those distinctions get fuzzy.  Published in the Agricultural Co-involution series of the Culture and Agriculture Section of the AAA.  

Update:  A Portuguese translation of the essay, "Jeff dentro da casa," was published in Amazonia Latitude.Check out this great new outlet for news and perspectives on the Amazon, written in Portuguese.    

Gold Glimmers in the Amazon, a photo essay on life in the illegal gold camps of the Brazilian Amazon, was recently published in Sapiens  The piece was written with Geographers Peter Richards and Michael Klingler and based on fieldwork conducted in the mines in the summer of 2015.  Michael's striking photographs of the mining process and the garimpeiros (miners) are worth a look.  

The Brazil Section of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) has awarded UC Santa Barbara anthropologist Jeffrey Hoelle top honors for his book “Rainforest Cowboys: The Rise of Ranching and Cattle Culture in Western Amazonia” (University of Texas Press, 2015). Full article from the UCSB Current.

  1. September 15, 2016 - 2:45pm