Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Faces of Ethnobiology:Thiago C Gomes

Photo taken by Nancy Turner
“Oi”. My name is Thiago (pronounced tchee-a-go). I was born and raised in Curitiba, southern Brazil, "the land of many pine trees and pine nuts" (Araucaria angustifolia (Bertol.) Kuntze). I have lived and worked in northern Mozambique and western Canada. Now, I live in Florianópolis, on the beautiful Island of Santa Catarina.
Laklãnõ Xokleng Indigenous Territory
I have recently joined the Graduate Program in Ecology at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina as a PhD student. I am currently investigating the relationships between patterns of biodiversity, ecosystem structure, function and services on the cultural landscapes of the Xokleng Indigenous People in the Upper Itajaí River Valley in Santa Catarina. 

3 words that would best describe my work are: collaboration, understanding and ecology. 

The process of becoming a student of social-ecological systems, biocultural diversity and how people understand and relate to their environments probably started at a young age. Curitiba is known worldwide for its eco-friendly urban projects and substantial relicts of Mata Atlântica Rainforest. Most of my education and life experiences were embedded in this environment, coupled by numerous incursions into the rural countryside, where my parents grew up as farmers’ children.
Replantng saplings in Chatham Islands
As an emerging ethnobiologist, I have already had some remarkable moments in my early career. I am thankful for having the opportunity of moving overseas to Mozambique and experience life with the Makhua, Makonde and Moni Peoples, and more recently working with the Lekwungen People and other Coast Salish First Nations in West Coast Canada during my masters’ program. These experiences really challenged me to pursue excellence in my research and a commitment to local voices.

A memorable moment I can mention is the first visit to Tl’chés, a small archipelago on Canada’s west coast, when Lekwungen elder Sellemah and young leaders welcomed myself into their traditional territory and ancestral lands. It was a very moving and significant event for the rest of the work. During the same fieldwork season we had traditional pitcooking feasts, received a Canadian television crew, and enjoyed the company of eagles and each other while worked.
TG_Welcoming Prayer on Tl'chés
As for the future, having received the 2014-2015 Darrell Posey PhD Fellowship for Ethnoecology and Traditional Resource Rights for my work with the Xokleng Indigenous People, I am keen to continue my PhD research and advance ethnoecological studies here in southern Brazil.

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