Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor's Name

Whitney Bauman

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Oren B. Stier

Third Advisor's Name

Christine E. Gudorf

Date of Defense



The present paper analyzes a case study of the Madeira Complex, which plans to build two massive dams on the Amazon River's largest tributary, to identify religious discourse in ecological debates. Three sides of the debate are investigated in order to analyze the various perspectives of proper human relations with the rest of nature that emerge. The Brazilian government and large corporations support the project as a necessary step to meet future national energy needs, the indigenous groups settled in federal territories that are directly affected by the environmental impact of the project and have mixed opinions, and environmentalist organizations starkly opposed to the project because of its impact on the environment. Each perspective reflects a Christian model of stewardship, where humans are responsible for the management of the rest of nature, and even the indigenous worldview adapts this dominant perspective in order to gain visibility in the debate. This debate reveals how the stewardship model can be a subtle form of neo-colonization of indigenous people and of ecosystems.





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