This book navigates across a frontier landscape—the living forests of western Amazonia.  

Situated at the transition between the Amazon floodplains and the Andean mountains, this border zone is one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth and fulfills vital functions in global climate regulation. It is also the home of indigenous nations and a land of great ethno-cultural diversity. Underlying this vast territory are immense deposits of oil, gas, and minerals, most of which remain untapped to this day. Recent years have seen the expansion of large-scale extraction activities in western Amazonia, driven by escalating competition between states and multinational corporations over the control of these strategic natural resources.

Forest Law enters in conversation with parts of the tropical forest that are zoned for this sort of impact following a series of landmark legal battles that are unfolding in the Ecuadorian Amazon, where nature has been declared a subject of rights. The book takes a slow road in mapping the historical, political, and ecological dimensions of these trials on behalf of the forest and the people who cultivate the forest, tracing the entanglements and frictions between the ethical and epistemic stakes these conflicts raise.

Among the many interlocutors of Forest Law, a constant partner was Michel Serres’s book The Natural Contract. Serres, in his own essayistic way, provides us with a frame, both philosophical and methodological, for our engagement with a territory that refuses to be represented by a single, hegemonic perspective. The first lines of this plurinational and multispecies contract are being currently drawn in Ecuador. The book reflects upon this new constitutional space wherein both humans and nonhumans gather in a political assembly, the living forests of Amazonia.   

The book is part of Forest Law, a collaborative multimedia art installation



Artist book by Ursula Biemann · Paulo Tavares, eds

Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum – Michigan State University, 2014

Book Design Brave New Alpes

Cartographies Paulo Tavares and Samaneh Moafi

146 pages, color, English/Spanish

ISBN 978-1-941789-00-1


To order the books contact Jane Goeddeke at Broad Art Museum, MSU