Annual Marvin Harris Lecture

Event Start Date: March 20, 2017 3:00 PM
Event End Date: March 20, 2017 4:30 PM


Close Encounters: The Dilemmas of Contact for Isolated Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon

By Glenn H. Shepard, Jr.  
Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Brazil

1208 Turlington Hall

The Peru-Brazil border region harbors perhaps the world's largest remaining refuge for isolated indigenous peoples, sometimes referred to as "uncontacted tribes." Over the past few years, an increasing intensity of sightings, encounters and conflicts as well as sensational international media coverage has raised international awareness about their status, their unique vulnerabilities and the growing threats to their territories and ways of life. This presentation pieces together what little is known about the cultural history of isolated indigenous peoples in the Madre de Dios region of Peru, separates fact from fiction in popular media representations about them, analyzes their rapidly evolving interactions with outsiders, and weighs the complex opportunities and threats they face over the next decade.



Glenn H. Shepard Jr. is an ethnobotanist, medical anthropologist, and filmmaker who has worked with indigenous peoples of Latin America, especially in Amazonia. He completed his doctorate in Medical Anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley (1999). Research interests include ethnobiology, medical anthropology, community resource management, visual anthropology and the territorial rights of isolated peoples. Publications include research articles, commentary and reviews in Nature (1998, 2009), Science (2003), Science Advances (2016, in press), American Anthropologist (2004, 2012), Economic Botany (2008, 2011), Conservation Biology (2007), PLoS One (2015, 2015) and the New York Review of Books (2014, 2015). His work has featured in National Geographic, The New Yorker, and as producer in the Emmy-Award-winning documentary, Spirits of the Rainforest, as well as Zapatista Memories. He is currently a staff researcher in the Human Sciences Division at the Goeldi Museum in Belém, Brazil. He blogs at Notes from the Ethnoground (

If interested in meeting with Gleen Sheppard, please contact Rick Stepp