Zoonotic Divergences: Humans, rats and micro-organisms in Guarani-Mbya villages of Jaraguá Indigenous Land (São Paulo/SP, Brazil)

Bruno Silva Santos

My PhD research aims to deepen anthropological understandings of health, illness and disease in contexts where the Guarani-Mbya people, rodents and microorganisms become entangled through leptospirosis within the Jaraguá Indigenous Land – a small territory surrounded by the city of São Paulo, Brazil’s largest metropolis. My project will be based on the ethnographic study of multispecies relations entangling indigenous people, Leptospira spp bacteria, governmental agencies of disease and rodent control, and health professionals. The project will focus on the examination of Guarani-Mbya perceptions of and practices around rodent-borne infection so as to unsettle the colonial vestiges of epidemiological reasoning that continues to inform understandings of zoonosis. This investigation of human-rodent relations will be path-breaking for Amerindian Studies, as, for the most part, these have focused on animal-human relations primarily in contexts of hunting and pet keeping. The ethnographic data produced by the project will also be useful for reconceptualizing and developing rodent-management strategies and community-led programmes in other Amerindian contexts, contributing to critically expanding the One Health initiative towards an ethnographic-based, decolonized, community-led, and multispecies approach.

Supervisor: Christos Lynteris (Department of Social Anthropology, University of St Andrews)

Co-supervisor: Cecilia McCallum (Departamento de Antropologia, Universidade Federal da Bahia)

Funder: Welllcome Trust