Thursday, April 22, 2021
Written, directed and produced by Marcos Colón, Beyond Fordlândia (2018, 75 min) presents an environmental account of Henry Ford’s Amazon experience decades after its failure. The story addressed by the film begins in 1927, when the Ford Motor Company attempted to establish rubber plantations on the Tapajós River, a primary tributary of the Amazon. This film addresses the recent transition from failed rubber to successful soybean cultivation for export, and its implication for land usage, leading to such questions as: What are the lessons to be learned from today’s ecological experimentation and in particular from the Fordlândia experience? How did Ford’s attempt to convert the lush, naturally abundant Brazilian landscape into industrial-scale agriculture foreshadow today’s destruction of the rainforest? What will be the impact of soybean monoculture for the future of the Amazon Rainforest?
Marcos Colón received his Ph.D. in Spanish and Portuguese Cultural Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2019. His research focuses on Brazilian literary and cultural studies, with a particular emphasis on representations of the Amazon in twentieth- and twenty-first-century Brazilian literature and film. He is currently working on a book- project based on his experiences filming the Amazon. He has produced and directed two documentary films that represent diverse perspectives on humanity’s complex relations with the natural world: Beyond Fordlândia: An Environmental Account of Henry Ford’s Adventure in the Amazon, 2018 and Zo’é, based on his experiences with the Zo’é tribe, an Amazonian indigenous community that has had little to no contact with the outside world (2018). He is particularly interested in examining a variety of perspectives on the post-rubber era in the Amazon. Colón’s scholarship uses the post-rubber era as a springboard for re-envisioning the region in a “relational” way, challenging hegemonic representations of the tropics in literature and culture. He is the editor and creator of Amazonia Latitude, a digital environmental magazine.
(NOTE: We strongly suggest that you consider viewing the movie, Beyond Fordlandia, before the Ath event. Though this is not required, it will help to generate a meaningful and productive conversation with director Marcos Colón.)
Dr. Colón's Athenaeum presentation and the screening of the movie are organized in commemoration of Earth Day.