"Precious few ethnographic subjects have ever been accorded the respect, critical eye, and deep attention Wendy Wolford pays on every page to ordinary Brazilians. Her study of the MST is exemplary in every way. The voices and texture are palpable and are woven into an analytically powerful and conceptually original argument. A signal contribution to the study of land reform of social movements, and of Brazilian politics. I'm frankly a little jealous of what she has achieved here."--James C. Scott, Sterling Professor Political Science and Anthropology, Yale University "This Land Is Ours Now is destined to become a classic in social movement literature and among those who study property relations, land tenure, and development policy. Offering a fresh, honest, and insightful take on a compelling but previously oversimplified story, it has broad implications for the political strategies of social movements, autonomous communities, and development alternatives in Latin America and throughout the world."--Dianne Rocheleau, Professor of Geography and Global Environmental Studies, Clark University "This book deserves to become a staple of syllabi in courses on social movements, peasants, Brazil and Latin America studies. It is undoubtedly a major contribution." - Benjamin Goldfrank, BLAR, Vol 32, No 1, January 2013From the Publisher:
In "This Land Is Ours Now", Wendy Wolford presents a new framework for understanding social mobilization. She argues that social movements are not the politically coherent, bounded entities often portrayed by scholars, the press, and movement leaders. Instead, they are constantly changing mediations between localized moral economies and official movement ideologies. Wolford develops her argument by analyzing how a particular social movement actually works. She focuses on an extraordinary grassroots agrarian movement, Brazil's Rural Landless Workers' Movement, known as the MST (Movimento Sem Terra). Founded in the southernmost states of Brazil in the mid-1980s, the MST grew dramatically in the following years, and by the late 1990s it was the most dynamic, well-organized social movement in Brazilian history. Drawing on extensive ethnographic research, Wolford compares the development of the movement in Brazil's southern state of Santa Catarina and its northeastern state of Pernambuco. As she explains, in the South, most of the movement's members were sons and daughters of small peasant farmers; in the Northeast, they were almost all former plantation workers, who related awkwardly to the movement's overall agenda of accessing 'land for those who work it'. The MST became an effective presence in the coastal region of Pernambuco only when the local sugarcane economy collapsed. Worldwide sugarcane prices dropped throughout the 1990s, and by 1999 the MST was a prominent political organizer in the plantations. Yet fewer than four years later, most of the region's workers had dropped out of the movement. By delving into the northeastern workers' motivations for joining and then leaving the MST, Wolford adds nuance and depth to accounts of a celebrated grassroots social movement, and she highlights the contingent nature of social movements and political identities more broadly.
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