Even the study of plants has roots in colonialism and appropriation. We must face its troubled history and make sure we do something about it, writes Alexandre Antonelli
I’ve often struggled to answer the simple question, “Where are you from?” As I was born and raised in Brazil, my origin is mixed – comprising indigenous, African and Mediterranean ancestors – and I dislike pre-defined labels.
Having lived outside my birth country most of my life, I have experienced discrimination on multiple occasions. I have learned the history of imperialism from the perspective of a former colony.
At school, I was taught that Brazil was “discovered” in 1500 by the Portuguese. The fact that several million people lived there before that was barely mentioned in our books. We were told of a long history of brutal exploitation of our natural resources, including vast amounts of gold, rubber and timber. All this was achieved through the exploitation of our native people and African slaves – including my own ancestors.