An Annotated Bibliography of Recommended Background Reading
2005. "Environmental Governance in Brazilian Amazonia: Conservationists, Developers and Social Movements." Center for Latin American Studies, University of Chicago. (Audio Recording)
Developing countries face the complex task of ensuring economic progress and poverty reduction while simultaneously preventing the destruction of natural resources. This task is often made more difficult by public policies copied from developed countries, which fail to take into account historical, cultural and environmental particularities. This lecture will examine the role of social movements in the development of public policies that combine economic development, environmental protection, and social justice, with particular emphasis on how conflicting interests between conservationists, developers, and social movements are reconciled.
Becker, Bertha K.
2005. "Geopolitica da Amazonia." Estudos Avancados, 19(53): 71-86.
Becker provides a nationalist riposte to conventional environmental discourses about the Amazon region. She understands contemporary Amazonian development as the intersection of three tendencies. First, agents of global capital have produced an international market in environmental conservation ("natural capital"), a tendency against which the Brazilian state must protect itself through the reassertion of territorial sovereignty. Second, the US military and its European allies have surrounded the Amazon with bases, necessitating the formation of a Mercosul-based alliance that can serve as counterweight to foreign powers. Third, Brazilian patterns of internal migration have changed. Amazonian growth is no longer powered by immigrants from other parts of the country; instead, the area possesses its own cities that coordinate the expansion of Amazonian agriculture. Fluctuations in the rhythm of the destruction of Amazonian forest, thus, reflect in large part the shifting struggles for resource control between existing regional actors, not between new immigrants. Becker concludes that the Amazon today is an "urban forest," with a large population concentrated in urban centers, and that the social needs of this existing population must be taken into account when planning for the region's environmental future.
Browder, John O., and Brian Godfrey.
1997. Rainforest Cities: Urbanization, Development, and Globalization of the Brazilian Amazon. New York: Columbia University Press.
Incorporating data from throughout the Brazilian Amazon, this book presents an extensive survey of the "disarticulated urbanization" that Amazonia has undergone since the late 1970s.
1988. Os Movimentos Populares no Contexto da Consolidacao da Democracia. In A Democracia no Brasil, Reis, Fabio Wanderley and Guillermo O'Donnell, eds. Sao Paulo: Edicoes Vertice, pp. 368-381.
Cardoso offers a general overview of the development of Brazil's "new social movements" in the waning years of the military government. Although she focuses primarily on urban movements, she develops a generic schema applicable to environmental movements as well. According to this schema, new social movements are characterized by a focus on the production of novel political identities presented as generic and homogenous, a primary orientation towards the state as interlocutor, a rejection of party affiliations, and a valorization of "participation."
Cunha, Manuela Carneiro da, and Mauro W. B. de Almeida.
2000. Indigenous People, Traditional People, and Conservation in the Amazon. Daedalus 129, no. 2: 315-338.
Alliances between traditional peoples, environmentalists, activists, branches of Amazonian governments, and intellectuals have been very important to recent Amazonian history and to contemporary Amazonian conservation. However, these alliances are sometimes fraught and often misunderstood. This essay sheds an analytic and ethnographic light on these alliances and their local meanings in traditional communities.
The Evolution of the Brazilian Environmental Movement and Its Political Roles. In The New Politics of Inequality in Latin America: Rethinking Participation and Representation, Douglas A. Chalmers et al.,eds. New York: Oxford University Press, Pp. 192-216.
Hochstetler surveys the evolution of Brazil's environmental movements spanning from the 1970's until the late 1990's by revealing the myriad interactions between the military, political parties, popular movements and grassroots environmental groups such as AGAPAN (Associação Gaúcha de Proteção ao Ambiente Natural). This overview also contrasts several different roles social movements may assume; for example, some serve as an ‘informal polity' while others see themselves as directly representing citizens. A comparison between national, local and regional (Amazonian) environmental movements demonstrates how different scales and goals of analysis affect how Brazilian environmental movements are characterized.
Pasquis, Richard; Valéria da Silva, Alessandra; Weiss, Joseph and Machado, Luciana.
2005, jan/april, 'Reforma Agraria' na Amazonia: Balanco e Persepctivas. Cadernos de Ciência & Tecnologia 22(1): 83-96.
Pasquis et al. summarize the process of land reform in Amazonian areas since 1960. Successive governments, they argue, responded to landlessness not by redistributing land already held by large property-owners, but rather by encouraging the "colonization" of forest. Two dominant presumptions undergirded the public policy of colonization: first, that Amazonia was vacant ("a land without men,") and second, that forest needed to be "integrated" into the Brazilian nation for reasons of national security. Although colonization policies were most strongly associated with the military government, the colonization paradigm informed national planning through the late 1990s. Pasquis et al. allege that Cardoso's government, motivated to achieve quantitative agrarian reform goals, disproportionately focused its reform in Amazonia, sending 52% of resettled families to settlements in the region. Amazonian settlements, however, typically proved difficult for small farmers to manage, and thus experienced extremely high rates of abandonment. The ultimate outcome was a pattern of land clearing by small settlers, soil exhaustion, and subsequent concentration of landholdings in the hands of secondary purchasers. Pasquis et al. note a shift towards environmentally-sustainable models for land reform during Cardoso's second term, with the implementation of the Projeto de Assentamento Agroextrativista and Projeto de Desenvolvimento Sustentavel models. Lula's government aimed to expand this trend by "transversally" integrating the work of the different ministries active in Amazonia – particularly Agriculture and Envirnonment – to produce an environmentally-friendly settlement model. Pasquis et al. close by noting the possible contradiction between this tendency and the Lula government's efforts to promote agribusiness.
Perreira, Anthony W.
1997. The Crisis of Developmentalism and the Rural Labor Movement in North-East Brazil. In The New Politics of Inequality in Latin America: Rethinking Participation and Representation, Douglas A. Chalmers et al., eds. New York: Oxford University Press, Pp. 95-116.
Perreira problematizes the presumed polarity between union-based, state-linked social organizations such as the Confederacao dos Trabalhadores na Agricultura (CONTAG), and combative peasant movements, including the Movimento Sem Terra (MST). The article uses the state of Pernambuco as an example to explain how agricultural modernization and rural welfare programs originating during Brazil's 1964-1985 military regime, have significantly impacted a cross-pollination between typically urban unions and rural labor movements.
Silva, Alberto Jorge da Rocha and Andrade, Laise de Holanda Cavalcante.
Cultural Significance of Plants in Communities Located in the Coastal Forest Zone of the State of Pernambuco, Brazil. Human Ecology. 34(3): 447-465.
Research on deforestation and environmental issues often focus on the Amazon; however, there are many other ecological regions that are significant to the Brazilian context. This ethnobotanical study focuses on the Coastal Forest Zone surrounding the metropolis of Recife, Pernambuco in Northeastern Brazil, which is home to many endemic species. Researchers interviewed local residents and applied an Index of Cultural Significance to quantify the importance of native and non-native plants in participant's everyday lives, suggesting that this unit of measure can be used in non-indigenous, urban contexts. The fact that participants use and know more about non-native plants demonstrates some of the social repercussions of the sugar industry and deforestation.
Land Conflicts in Amazonia. American Ethnologist. 9(2): 341-357.
Schmink argues that conflicts over land rights are not a symptom of social chaos, but are instead caused by the inherent contradictions of the Brazilian state; paradoxically, while the state claims to represent the totality of its citizens, it also functions to preserve the interests of dominant classes. During the 1970's Schmink conducted participant observation and interviewed peasants, capitalist investors/landholders, and government officials in the Amazon in order to illustrate the ideological clashes that unfortunately, even today, result in violence.
Hochstetler, Kathryn & Keck, Margaret E.
2007. Greening Brazil: Environmental Activism in State and Society. Durham: Duke University Press.
Greening Brazil traces the development of environmental activism in late-20th-century Brazil. Hochstetler and Keck's multi-level analysis of the shaping of Brazilian environmental politics describes the actions of individual actors, institutional processes and politico-economic circumstances emphasizing the significance of interpersonal and professional networks. The first three chapters of the book provide a general history of environmentalism in Brazil. Chapter four brings the focus to the Amazon. It traces the development of Amazonian environmentalism from rubber-tappers' struggles in the 1970s to the growth of socio-environmentalism in the 1980s to a growing reliance on international NGO networks and the Brazilian federal government in the 1990s to more recent changes under the administration of President Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva.
Zirker, Daniel, and Marvin Henberg.
1994. Amazonia: Democracy, Ecology, and Brazilian Military Prerogatives in the 1990s. Armed Forces & Society 20, no. 2 (January 1): 259-281.
The Brazilian military is a powerful actor in Amazonia and one that is often at odds with Indigenous and Environmental movements. A comprehensive understanding of the contemporary politics of the Amazon must include an analysis of the Brazilian military. This paper reviews the politics of the Amazon within the Brazilian military and the politics of the military within the Amazon during the "democratizing" 1990s.