Rupture and resistance

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Rupture and resistance gender relations and life trajectories in the babaçu palm forests of Brazil
Porro, Noemi
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[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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Subjects / Keywords:
Capitalism ( jstor )
Forests ( jstor )
Gender relations ( jstor )
Men ( jstor )
Peasant class ( jstor )
Rice ( jstor )
Slavery ( jstor )
Trajectories ( jstor )
Villages ( jstor )
Women ( jstor )
Anthropology thesis, Ph. D ( lcsh )
Babassu -- Brazil ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Anthropology -- UF ( lcsh )
Forests and forestry -- Brazil ( lcsh )
Human settlements -- Brazil ( lcsh )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


ABSTRACT: This ethnography of the people living in babaçu palm forests of the Mearim Valley, in the Eastern Amazonian state of Maranhão, Brazil, is a study of social relations among men and women struggling for their ways of life in a context of social antagonism. I focus my analysis on trabalho livre, a form of labor that emerged from a material and symbolic set of social relations from which gender relations cannot be dissociated. Supported by political economy and feminist frameworks, I present my findings through five life trajectories, examined in different social contexts. Multiple forms of gender relations intertwined in these trajectories are made invisible by Development discourses, promoted through policies and projects that affect their gendered, ethnic-based, peasant ways of life. Adding to the study of gender in the field inhabited by grassroots organizations, NGOs, and development agents, I also investigate gender relations among the so-called nonparticipants of development projects. This dissertation suggests that discourses and practices that consider gender relations to be the result of a single, continuous, and all-encompassing history may be present not only in dominant sectors, but also in the social movement itself. Discursive and nondiscursive practices that promote uniformity, discipline, regulation, and overall control over ways of life, including ways of living gender relations, on behalf of predefined sustainable developments or feminisms, perpetuate power relations that hold women and men in relations of domination. I conclude that peasant gender relations in the Mearim valley are intrinsic and integral parts of dialectical constructions of gender in impersonal "dominant sectors," but also in the realm of the social movements, where I circulate as a member of society, a researcher and a practitioner. I suggest, therefore, continuous scrutiny in both spheres through "thick" ethnographic research, aiming at a self-critical reading of a multi-faceted general history that has been denied and made invisible by the total history of global and national society.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 2002.
Includes bibliographical references.
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by Noemi Sakiara Miyasaka Porro.

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Copyright 2002 By Noemi Sakiara Miyasaka Porro


To Roberto, Felipe, Pedro and Ana.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I am deeply grateful to the people whose trajectories I had the privilege to cross throughout my journey in the babau palm forests in Brazil. Through a symbolic recognition of dona Vitalina Andrade and senhor Manoel Rodrigues de Sousa, I acknowledge my extended gratitude to each and every man and woman whose insightful and humorous companionship guided my learning path through the Mearim valley. During my years as a practitioner and a fieldworker, I was supported by several grassroots organizations, especially ASSEMA, Movimento Interestadual das Quebradeiras de Cco Babau, Cooperativa dos Produtores Agro-Extrativistas de Lago do Junco, Associao das Trabalhadoras Rurais de Lago do Junco, associations, unions and parishes of Lago do Junco, Esperantinpolis, So Lus Gonzaga, and Lima Campos. During my years as a student, my chair and friend Dr. Marianne Schmink wisely mentored my academic trajectory and return to professional life. Dr. Peter Hildebrand, Dr. Anthony Oliver-Smith, Dr. Alfredo Wagner, Dr. David Wigston, Dr. Irma McClaurin, and Dr. Stephen Perz joined the hard job of my intellectual guidance. I have enjoyed both the freedom to hold my own opinions, and the challenge of defending them. My Ph.D. program at the Department of Anthropology at UF was financially supported by the Hewlett Foundation, the Charles Wagley Fund, the Florida-Brazil Institute, the Tropical Conservation and Development Program, the Center for Latin American Studies at UF, the Inter-American Foundation, the Research Foundation / SUNY / World Wildlife Fund/ USAID, the Compton Foundation/ Department of Botany, iv


the O. Ruth McQuown Fund/ Women Studies Program, and the Department of Anthropology at UF. Practical aspects of my education came also from occasional jobs offered by the Center for International Forestry Research, the WIDTECH, ICRW, DAI, USAID program and the Forest Stewardship Council. Special thanks are due to Dr. Charles Wood, Hannah Covert, and the entire administrative staff at the TCD program and the Center for Latin American Studies, for their caring support during many years. I want also to recognize dona Dij Bringelo, Antonia de Brito, Leonice Pereira, Carol Magalhes, Luciene Figueiredo, M. Alades de Souza, Sebastiana Sirqueira, Diocina Lopes, frei Adolfo Themme, Rosana and Ebine, Alfredo Wagner, Domingos Cardoso, Joaquim Shiraishi, Querubina Neta, Jaime de Oliveira, Raimundo Vital, Francisco de Paula, Glria Gaia, Helciane Arajo, Cynthia Carvalho, Patrcia Nunes, Dda Chagas, Valdener Miranda, Teresinha Alvino, Ildeth Sousa, Joo Valdeci, Lindalva Carneiro, Maria Jos Pereira, Raimunda Gomes, Manoel Ferreira, Antonia Moreira, Magna Cunha, Antonino Sobrinho, d. Zezeca and d. Dade, Dora Hermnio, M. Jos Gontijo, Barbara Goraeb, Paul, Joelma and William Losch, Mariana, Jorge and Andres Aragon, Elli Sujita, Richard Wallace, Kristen Conway, Mrs. Bernice, Sarah Fedler, Erva Gilliam, Rhonda Riley, Carol Colfer, Omaira Bolanos, Diana Alvira, Vicky, Vincent and Clara Reyes, Kuniko Chijiwa, Dorothy Stang, Kevin Veach and Carmen Roca. The honor of their friendship has pushed me to learn about the ways of life in the Mearim valley and about my own ways through life. To my grandparents Shigeru and Koyuki Sakiara, my parents Kazuco and Shiro Miyasaka, and in-laws Ada and Antonio Porro, I extend my deepest gratitude. With Pedro, Felipe and Roberto Porro, I celebrate the joy of being alive and together. v


PREFACE At any rate, when a subject is highly controversial – and any question about sex is that – one cannot hope to tell the truth. One can only show how one came to hold whatever opinion one does hold. One can only give one’s audience the chance of drawing their own conclusions as they observe the limitations, the prejudices, the idiosyncrasies of the speaker. Alas, laid on the grass how small, how insignificant this thought of mine looked; the sort of fish that a good fisherman puts back into the water so that it may grow fatter and be one day worth cooking and eating. I will not trouble you with that thought now, though if you look carefully you may find it for yourselves in the course of what I am going to say (Woolf 1981: 4-5). Through this ethnography, I intend to show how I came to hold my opinion about gender relations. It meshes narratives by people living in the babau palm forests and accounts of my own journey throughout the Mearim Valley, in the Amazonian state of Maranho, Brazil. It focuses on social relations among men and women struggling to control their ways of life in a context of social antagonism. In the situations studied with support of political economy and feminist theoretical frameworks, local discourse and practice of gender relations often contradict development approaches. My aim was to investigate gender relations through these contradictions. This investigation required a consideration of discourses labeled as “gender and development,” currently involving the scenario of sustainable development in the Brazilian Amazon; and affecting gendered, ethnic-based forms of babau forest livelihoods. This dissertation also takes me one step closer to my dream of becoming an ethnographer. After some preliminary ethnographic experiments, I realized that I had to include myself as part of the data into the analysis to better explain my findings. Far from vi


intending to write an auto-ethnography per se, I could not pretend an “objective” outsider standpoint either, but integrated some elements of my own life experience in the Mearim valley as a research strategy to validate and share my learning. Warned by the postmodern critique about the problems regarding the authoritarian representation of the “Other” (Marcus and Fischer 1986), I applied to myself as an ethnographer that constant exercise of questioning proposed by Foucault (1972: 50-55): Who is writing? What kinds of qualification does the author have? From which kind of social relations does her enunciation emerge? What are the institutional sites from which she writes? What tools do these institutions provide to her? I offer, therefore, my reading and analysis of the situations studied, while positioning my authorship as a woman, a married mother, a Brazilian descendant of Japanese peasants, a grassroots practitioner and a scholar trained in an American university. In 1983, I graduated as an agronomic engineer with a concentration in Ecology, at the University of So Paulo, Brazil. Having nothing like the political resistance of the 1960s, “left wing” students turned to alternative agriculture, agro-ecology, and adaptive technologies as our ways to come together to oppose “conservative modernization” driving the development model that predominated in Agronomy schools at those times. To celebrate graduation, a dozen of these half “greens,” half anarchist graduates opted for a trip to the Amazon of the rain forests, of the resisting Indians and peasants. After our planned tour together through major research institutions and sites, my boyfriend, Roberto Porro, and I decided not to return with the group; and crossing the states of Amazon and Par by river, we ended up in a peasant village on the coast of the state of Maranho. We were enchanted by their unique, humored way of life. Their vii


village was the reversal of images of the rural isolation of individual farms, which presumably would prevent them from joining unionized proletarians in the revolution imagined in our rural sociology classes. At any rate, after hanging around with fishermen and agriculturalist peasants, we thumbed back to the South. However, this first experience in a peasant village had already hooked us, especially when we learned that our host was murdered soon after we left, because of a conflict over his land, and that the whole village would be relocated to make way for the future Air Space Launching Base of Alcntara. 1 We began to make plans to marry, head back north, run a nice goat farm in a peasant village in the forest, and live an ecologically and socially sound life by a riverine beach. It was only 2 years later, already married and with a baby boy, when we met a Franciscan friar who invited us to work on an agricultural project in the state of Maranho. Finally, in 1986, we indeed moved up north, not to run our own goat farm in a nice forested area, but to work with a dynamic social movement of peasants facing agrarian conflicts in the Mearim valley, a so-called former expansion frontier, mostly covered by degraded secondary growth, palm forests, and pastures. Roberto was hired by the Franciscan friars to coordinate a German-funded agricultural project based in the municipality of Lago do Junco, which was closely involved with the CEBs, Eclesial Base Communities, inspired by Liberation Theology. A semi-boarding school, also linked to the pastoral movements, hired me to manage a Belgian-funded educational project for peasant teenagers in the neighboring municipality of Poo de Pedras. 1 For the case of the Air Space Launching Base of Alcntara, see Almeida’s (2001:137-141) Human Rights in Brazil 2001. viii


In the years in which agrarian conflicts involving disputes over land tenure and property rights took place in the Mearim valley, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, 2 the Franciscan friars supported villages in their struggle for recognition of their right to the land. While most of the villages were swept away, some achieved their rights through open conflict, and eventual governmental action through so-called Agrarian Reform, being mistakenly denominated thereafter as “settlements.” 3 Still other villages managed to negotiate and purchase the land from the pretense landlords. This movement became locally known as the Mutiro or A Luta, the collective struggle. The villages, however, either “reformed” or not, continued struggling against the effects of land concentration. Since Agrarian Reform was not massively applied in a way that its effects would be felt even in nonreformed land, these reformed areas became islands in a sea of landless situations, suffering pressures on their resources. By the mid 1980s, the People of the Mutiro, or People of Struggle, began to discuss how to remain on their “reformed” lands. Again, with the support of the church and NGOs, they chose among the few available alternatives for experimenting with projects to collectively organize their formal land tenure, production, and commercialization. For 3 years, we were involved in this process, carried out in the realm of the Catholic church. In 1989, after leaving these jobs, already with our second son, we moved to Pedreiras, a more central town in the Mearim valley, to participate in the founding of a grassroots organization, formed by people who had fought for the land, and opted for 2 See Almeida, A. 1990. The State and Land Conflicts in Amazonia: from 1964 to 1988. In The Future of Amazonia: Destruction or Sustainable Development?eds, D. Goodman and A. Hall. 3 According to INCRA, settlement is the process that follows land expropriation and tenure emission, which involves plot demarcation, credits for food, housing, agricultural inputs, and productive activities, in addition to infrastructure such as roads, electricity, water and schools (INCRA 1984, INCRA 2001). ix


managing their resources also through economic projects carried out in the realm of the social movements. Maintaining a partnership with the church, we dreamed of an organization directed not for, not with, but by the peasants themselves. A board of coordinators was elected among leaders related to the unions and grassroots organizations from four municipalities of the Mearim Valley: Lago do Junco, Esperantinpolis, So Lus Gonzaga, and Lima Campos. This assembly of grassroots leaders founded ASSEMA – Association in Settlement Areas in the State of Maranho. Roberto and I became their professional volunteers (and later, employees) and soon after were joined by a teacher, Luciene Figueiredo; and an agricultural technician, Jaime Conrado. First CESE – Coordenadoria Ecumnica do Servio, and soon after, OXFAM, Inter-American Foundation, and Ford Foundation funded ASSEMA’s projects. Later, Misereor, Terre des Hommes, Bread for the World and IBAMA supported the group with their resources. Currently, Action Aid, Grassroots, Christian Aid, Coer Unit and DED have joined efforts, and further government-funded projects, PROCERA and PDA, have been carried out. Accessing their rights to public resources, as was written in the Agrarian Reform Plan, involved a concomitant process of politicization, since the formal Land Reform program was anything but what was actually happening on those lands. In this process, clashes and convergences among diverse cultural, economic and political backgrounds, including ours, were constant at each step. Throughout this learning process, ASSEMA was my classroom for a meaningful 5 years. In 1994, we left for Belm, the largest capital in the Amazon, but continued to provide occasional services to ASSEMA. After 8 years managing rural development projects as a practitioner, Roberto felt the need to go back to academia, and moved to the x


US for a short-term non-degree program. After being apart for 2 months, I ended up quitting my 7-month-old job as a consultant for a German cooperation agency in Belm, and joined Roberto and the children in the US. As an unemployed spouse without a work permit, I also ended up going back to academia. In 1996, while working on my 2-year-long master’s program in Tropical Development and Conservation, I fell in love with Anthropology. I marveled to find a discipline concerned with theoretical and empirical instruments to deal with the realities I still could not explain. What began as “something-to-do-while-waiting-for-my-husband,” turned into a lengthier pursuit in Anthropology, not surprisingly trying to figure out the mysteries of gender relations. As a late novice introduced to the discipline at the Ph.D. level, I jumped into the ethnographies, enchanted with the methodological field procedures providing insightful conceptual findings. I was fascinated to review the unexplainable situations lived as a practitioner, now supported by the theories that, although based on distinct, idiographic situations and empirical evidence, were made anthropologically meaningful by the ethnographer. I began to dream of being an ethnographer. So, after 3 more years of coursework and research, there I was, once more going back to the field for the last summer of my field research. But so many things were still missing to unleash the magic of being an ethnographer. Still, I open my dissertation by describing that entrance to the field, as ethnographers usually do. xi


TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iv ABSTRACT.......................................................................................................................xv CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION............................................................................................................1 Going Back to the Mearim Valley: the Research Setting...............................................1 Looking for My Research Site.................................................................................1 Finding the Site of Trabalho Sem Patro, Work without a Boss............................3 Who They Are and Who I Am: the Formation of the Object of Research.....................6 The Researched: Who They Are..............................................................................6 The Researcher: Who I Am....................................................................................19 The Research Relation: Researcher and Researched in the Same Text................22 Where Should We Walk Through: the Theoretical Framework...................................27 Gender in an Operative Field of Knowledge.........................................................30 Gender in an Anthropological Field of Knowledge...............................................35 Gender in an Interactive Field of Knowledge........................................................41 Walking My Path: the Ethnographic Dissertation........................................................46 Research Questions and Design.............................................................................52 Research Methodology..........................................................................................56 Chapter Organization....................................................................................................58 2 MARIA PRETINHO MADE INVISIBLE: SOCIAL BLINDNESS IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER IN LAGO DO JUNCO, A MUNICIPALITY IN THE MEARIM VALLEY..............................................................................................62 Introduction: the Trajectory of Maria Pretinho Made Invisible....................................62 Entering the Field for the First Time............................................................................66 Arriving at the Town of Lago do Junco: No Signs of Maria Pretinho...................66 Getting a ride with the church to get on the road with the people...................66 There were fazendeiros on this road................................................................69 There was a church project on the top of the hill.............................................78 Proceeding Toward the Interior: the Margins that Were Centers..........................81 A state of disconnected structures....................................................................81 A state of nonstructured connections...............................................................88 xii


Learning a Way of Life.................................................................................................92 Men and Women in the Making of Roa...............................................................92 The practices....................................................................................................92 The symbols...................................................................................................100 Men and Women in the Making of a Social Movement......................................104 Conflicts, agreements and an unsolved state.................................................104 From Mutiro to union, associations and cooperatives.................................113 Men and Women in the Making of a Municipality..............................................119 Looking for Maria Pretinho in the numbers..................................................119 Looking for Maria Pretinho in local discourses.............................................123 Conclusion: Social Blindness in the Construction of Gender.....................................128 3 DONA VALERIANA PARGA MADE VISIBLE: DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER IN MONTE ALEGRE, A VILLAGE IN THE MEARIM VALLEY......................................................................................131 Introduction.................................................................................................................131 The Construction of Gender in the Formation of Monte Alegre................................133 Contextualizing the Narrative..............................................................................133 Listening to the Narrative....................................................................................136 Reading the Narrative..........................................................................................146 Time of captivity............................................................................................155 Time of “being owner of one’s self”..............................................................162 Time of struggle.............................................................................................169 The Challenge of Gender in the “Development” of Monte Alegre............................173 The Visible and Invisible Matters that Led the Development Projects to Fail....173 Productive projects.........................................................................................178 Infrastructural projects...................................................................................180 The Visible Women Who Assumed the Debts....................................................182 Conclusion: Social Visibility in the Construction of Gender.....................................187 4 DONA VITALINA ANDRADE MAKING THE “SELF” VISIBLE: ARTICULATED ETHNICITIES IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER AMONG THE ANDRADES, A FAMILY IN THE MEARIM VALLEY.................197 Introduction.................................................................................................................197 The Construction of Gender in Dona Vitalina’s Family.............................................202 The Pargas in the Construction of Gender in Dona Vitalina’s Family.......................221 The Sakiaras in the Construction of Gender in Dona Vitalina’s Family....................230 Conclusion..................................................................................................................249 xiii


5 A QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS OF GENDER RELATIONS IN A PEASANT ECONOMY IN THE MEARIM VALLEY.................................................................251 Introduction.................................................................................................................251 Methods................................................................................................................252 Theoretical Perspectives......................................................................................254 Applicability of the Gender Concept...................................................................255 On the Economics of the Family and of the Village...................................................260 On the Economics of Gender Throughout the Life Cycle..........................................267 Raising Boys and Girls: “Girls Are Put on Girls’ Work and Boys on Boys’ Work”.......................................................................................................267 Growing as Young Women and Young Men: “The Older Ones Tried, But as the Work Got Heavier . . . out of School!”..............................................273 Becoming Men and Women: “When You Marry, Then, the Roa is Yours; You Are the Owner of Yourself”.............................................................277 Getting Old: “The Old Woman Having her Little Social SecurityIt Doesn’t Solve Everything, But It Helps at Lot!”...................................................287 Shared Notions and Symbols in the Construction of a Gendered Economy..............295 Conclusion..................................................................................................................303 6 REFLECTIONS AND CONCLUSIONS: GENDER RELATIONS IN THE MEARIM VALLEY....................................................................................................306 Introduction.................................................................................................................306 Leaving the Mearim Valley One More Time.............................................................309 Rites of Death in the Land of the Landlords........................................................310 Trabalho Livre within and outside Terra Liberta................................................319 Answering Research Questions..................................................................................321 What Forms of Gender and Other Social Relations Are Made Invisible (by the Various Actors)?..........................................................................321 How Are Gender and Other Social Relations Transformed in Times of Conflict, Struggle and Political Resistance?............................................327 How Do Multiple Forms of Gender Relations Combine and Evolve in Specific Trajectories of Village Formation and Struggles?.....................335 Conclusion: Gender Relations in the Mearim Valley.................................................341 LIST OF REFERENCES.................................................................................................351 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH...........................................................................................364 xiv


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY RUPTURE AND RESISTANCE: GENDER RELATIONS AND LIFE TRAJECTORIES IN THE BABAU PALM FORESTS OF BRAZIL By Noemi Sakiara Miyasaka Porro December 2002 Chairwoman: Dr. Marianne Schmink Major Department: Department of Anthropology This ethnography of the people living in babau palm forests of the Mearim Valley, in the Eastern Amazonian state of Maranho, Brazil, is a study of social relations among men and women struggling for their ways of life in a context of social antagonism. I focus my analysis on trabalho livre, a form of labor that emerged from a material and symbolic set of social relations from which gender relations cannot be dissociated. Supported by political economy and feminist frameworks, I present my findings through five life trajectories, examined in different social contexts. Multiple forms of gender relations intertwined in these trajectories are made invisible by Development discourses, promoted through policies and projects that affect their gendered, ethnic-based, peasant ways of life. Adding to the study of gender in the field inhabited by grassroots organizations, NGOs, and development agents, I also investigate gender relations among the so-called nonparticipants of development projects. xv


This dissertation suggests that discourses and practices that consider gender relations to be the result of a single, continuous, and all-encompassing history may be present not only in dominant sectors, but also in the social movement itself. Discursive and nondiscursive practices that promote uniformity, discipline, regulation, and overall control over ways of life, including ways of living gender relations, on behalf of predefined sustainable developments or feminisms, perpetuate power relations that hold women and men in relations of domination. I conclude that peasant gender relations in the Mearim valley are intrinsic and integral parts of dialectical constructions of gender in impersonal “dominant sectors,” but also in the realm of the social movements, where I circulate as a member of society, a researcher and a practitioner. I suggest, therefore, continuous scrutiny in both spheres through “thick” ethnographic research, aiming at a self-critical reading of a multi-faceted general history that has been denied and made invisible by the total history of global and national society. xvi


CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Going Back to the Mearim Valley: the Research Setting Looking for My Research Site A sea of babau palms waved, little dots in a green landscape as I landed in the capital of Maranho, announcing this half Amazonian half Northeastern Brazilian state. As soon as the airplane opened its doors, humidity and heat penetrated my clothes and soul, warning me that I had finally arrived in the so-called Middle-North region, on a summer afternoon of 2000. I had just finished with those bureaucracies of research forms and permits, and was anxious to begin my dissertation fieldwork in the Mearim Valley, 300 km south from the coastal capital So Lus, about 6 hours by bus on a lousy road. The valley is part of extensive and highly homogeneous babau palm forests that cover more than 18 million hectares in northern and northeastern Brazil (MIC/STI 1982), in which an estimated 500,000 families 1 live on agricultural and extractive activities (Figure 1-1). My goal was to understand interactions among locally observed gender relations, and discourses and practices promoted by Agencies of Development, related to “gender and development.” As a student in Tropical Conservation and Development and later in Anthropology, I had returned every summer to the so-called babau forest region. Even so, at each arrival, the homogeneous greenness and architecture of these palm 1 The number of people working with babau extraction is estimated at 500,000 families throughout Brazil (Anderson et al. 1991:9), with 300,000 families in the state of Maranho alone (Associao Brasileira das Indstrias de Babau, cited in Almeida 1995:48, Anderson et al. 1991:97). 1


2 forests still surprises me. This time, however, the full realization that I had indeed arrived at my research site came only later on. Somehow, my anthropological training was asking for evidence other than the geographic signs. Figure 1-1. Map of Brazil showing areas of occurrence of babau palm forests, and detail of the different ecological regions of these forests in the map of the state of Maranho. The research site is located in the designated Regio dos Cocais. Source: MIC/STI 1982 On obtaining different departure schedules from each person I had asked, and in spite of a crazy race from the airport to the bus station, I ended up missing the last bus of the day from the capital, to the Mearim Valley. Forced to stay until the next day, I headed to the closest hotel, but had to argue with the cab driver who tried to rip me off. I felt that I had begun to fully participate in that arena of no schedules and no rules governing the institutionalized informal economy. Next, trying to gain some time in this unplanned extra day in the capital, I thought of contacting some public officers at the governmental institutions related to my research, but the room telephones of my affordable hotel were


3 simply mute: another sign of decline common to many small enterprises shadowed by the globally franchised hotel chains. At the moment, anxious to get to my geographical site, these signs, which later helped me to understand the social site of my research, were only distressing difficulties to overcome. There I was then, sweating on the sidewalk in front of my hotel, in the midst of the intense and noisy traffic of Guajajaras Avenue, under a vandalized public phone shelter. I knew better than to expect a public employee to talk to someone calling in the last working hour of the day. My next move was to reach colleagues and friends, but seconds of local calls to mostly cell-phone holders swallowed all the units of my modern magnetic telephone card, as I heard “try later” from professionally anonymous voices of different private companies. It was nothing close to the paradise of efficiency promised by the Brazilian privatization policies. I would soon learn of similar situations for the privatization of water and electricity. It began to rain on this hot day of July. Putting aside my unsuccessful attempts to make my research days efficient, I finally gave up on my list of contacts. Protected by the telephone shelter, I relaxed and freed my eyes for the world. Finding the Site of Trabalho Sem Patro, Work without a Boss Two men who could be categorized as a mulato and a caboclo 2 were pulling an old wooden wagon full of cardboard, broken furniture, and old rusty metal, disturbing the already chaotic traffic in the large avenue. As a burned car seat fell from their load, rusty springs popping out of the incinerated cover, passing students warned and cheered the men. As one of the men managed to hold the traffic, the other choreographically ran back 2 Mulato and caboclo are designations in the regional race-based social categorization indicating the offspring of white and black, and white and indigenous parents, respectively.


4 for the seat, throwing jokes to a mass of irritated drivers. Ei, patrozinho, calma a que sem assento meu carro no anda! “Hey, little boss, calm down there ‘cause my car can’t run without a seat!” The obnoxious junk disturbing the busy flow of modern life was a treasure they could not afford to leave behind. I guessed at the meager payment they would get for this stressful job to feed the many children I imagined for each man. However, looking at this uniquely cheerful while humiliating memento, I was completely certain that it was not my imagination: I had finally arrived, not to my geographic, but to my social site. There it was: the site of people living by trabalho sem patro, work without a patron. Through the years I have lived and researched in the Mearim valley and other sites in the Amazon, I came to learn of ways of life 3 carried out by social groups who are related by central symbolisms and practices aiming at freedom from the control of a boss. By experience, I just knew that the expressions, words, laughs and attitudes exchanged were all about the people I wanted to understand. In the same way I could see the unmistakable geography of the babau forests and the easily recognizable economic context common to most of the so-called developing countries facing globalization, I could also clearly identify the subjects of what I wanted to research. It was something about that unique form of resistance, not defined by race, origin, geographical location, or type of economic activity, but this time expressed by that humored defiance, common to ways of life based on trabalho sem patro. It seemed to me that this commonality leads to the formation of a people, which in the case of the Mearim valley, has emerged from trajectories of slavery, detribalization, and forced migration. 3 Ways of life are “ways that human beings have to construct their lives throughout the process of living them” (Geertz 1983:29)


5 Being part of a stream dominated by modern, even imported cars, they push wagons. Swallowed by chaotic traffic rushed by globalized economies, they go against the flow, struggling for what is meaningful to them. Although they have never managed to effectively challenge the oppression, they were never completely dominated by it either. Swallowed but never homogenized, marginalized but not entirely excluded, they are in the cities and they are in the countryside. They are seen even in modern factories, but they also slash and burn forests to produce. They consume their underclassified type of rice, but also fancy satellite dishes for TVs run by old batteries. And, as we will see later, levels of income, location of dwelling, types of occupation, and overall categorization by development parameters do not help much to understand their gender relations. Through this event on the very first day of my field research, I realized that the crucial problem to make the right entrance to my study was to clearly delineate the object of my research, and to clarify the fields of knowledge in which I would work. Depending on how I made my delimitation, I could be either creating artificial boundaries, validating nonexistent objects of research, or erasing subjects and livelihoods just because they were not behaving accordingly, or staying where I did not expect to find them. All these noises of the globalized life were distracting me from listening to the voices I needed to hear and making invisible what I should see. I had not even approached the Mearim Valley; how could I be so sure that they were around? Why am I saying “they,” myself a Brazilian, and they not having any other “official” identification than that? Do we not speak the same language and use the same clothes made in China, paying with the same currency devalued by the global financial market? Who are these people, the subjects of ways of


6 life I am willing to research, after all? And who am I to dare studying a people for whom I could not even figure out a proper identification? Who They Are and Who I Am: the Formation of the Object of Research The Researched: Who They Are When someone asks what is the object of my research, I cannot simply answer that it is the culture of “the Guajajara” or “the Canela” as would the anthropologists who work with these indigenous groups with a recognized social identity. There is a Guajajara nation and a Guajajara territory; each Guajajara knows who belongs to it, and in a general sense the meaning of being a Guajajara pervades every dimension of the interpretation of their lives, including gender relations. 4 This is not the case of the people I am talking about. Anthropologists mostly conceptualize these people as peasants, for their distinct mode of production is articulated with market oriented or capitalist modes. 5 Marx (1967:761) referred to peasants as related to a petty mode of production, “where the laborer is the private owner of his own means of labor set in action by himself.” Distinguishing them from farmers, in the first volume 4 For indigenous groups without an officially recognized ethnic identity, like many groups based in the Northeastern territories, there are attempts to recognize the significance of their ethnicity. Debates in contemporary anthropology that challenge excluding concepts such as “closed tribe” and “indigenous people” have intended to redeem their invisibility. See Oliveira Filho 1998. 5 Along the line of the classical concepts, Alfred Kroeber provides a definition: “Peasants are definitely rural – yet live in relation to market towns; they form a class segment of a larger population, which usually contains also urban centers, sometimes metropolitan capitals. They constitute part societies and part cultures. They lack the isolation, the political autonomy and the self sufficiency of tribal populations; but their local units retain much of their old identity, integration and attachments to soils and cults” (1948:284). Another example is Raymond Firth’s definition in which peasants are "a socio economic system of small-scale producers with a relatively simple, non-industrial technology” (1964:17) involving a "set of structural and social relationships rather than a technological category of persons engaged in the same employment" (ibid:18). A third example is Eric Wolf’s definition expressing dialectical relations: peasants are "rural cultivators whose surpluses are transferred to a dominant group of rulers that uses the surpluses both to underwrite its own standard of living and to distribute the remainder to groups


7 of Capital, Marx presented the petty mode as a transient mode, to be dissolved as the “historical process of divorcing the producer from the means of production,” or the primitive accumulation, evolved (1967:714). Otherwise, society would be fated to mediocrity and narrowness, because “this mode of production presupposes parceling of the soil and scattering of the other means of production . . . (I)t excludes co-operation, division of labor within each process of production, the control over, and the productive application of the forces of nature by society, and the free development of the social productive powers” (1967:761-2). A more idiographic view of diverse peasant social groups worldwide would show diverse social situations in which peasants adopt a common use of land, and cooperatively organize their productive powers according to socially established rules. 6 Besides, the development of the social productive powers entailed a diversity of interconnected modes. De Janvry, using Marxist analytical tools, argued for an integrative view to explain the situation of the peasantry, condemning dual segmentations such as growth and stagnation, poverty and wealth, development and underdevelopment, as proposed by the neo-classic and Modernization theorists. He opted for a dialectical perspective, accounting for societies’ contradictions, conflicts, movements, and changes, analyzed through historical materialism. De Janvry constructed models of articulated and in society that do not farm but must be fed for their specific goods and services in turn” (1966:3-4). 6 It is important to note that Marx’s analysis is based on a historical approach specific to the Western European peasants in a given period, and that this view varied throughout his process of theoretical construction. See letter to Vera Zasulich in 1881 (Shanin 1983). Therefore, in the third volume of Capital, he even considered the possibility of peasants making the full development of the capitalist mode more difficult (1967:196). This suggests that the evolution of each peasant group should be analyzed in its own time and place, in their unique interaction with other social groups throughout history. This is even more necessary for peasantries such as that of the Mearim


8 disarticulated economies to show how economies worldwide are connected according to a capitalist rationality: peasants would be a class or part of a class with a specific economy that is articulated with a capitalist economy. 7 However, in practice, in the research environment and activism where I circulate, peasants are mostly identified now by the economic activity that is meaningful to the market (in an overall process of development), or to conservation (in a process of sustainable development): seringueiros, quebradeiras de coco, marisqueiras, etc. (rubber tappers, babau nut breakers, shellfish gatherers). Such identities, at least originally, were not defined by themselves, but ascribed by sectors that benefited from them: seringalistas, marreteiros, bodegueiro, fazendeiros, mercador (situational designations for landlords and merchants). Later, the subjects transformed these ascribed identifications into self-designated political identities, and agents with interests in conservation, sustainable development, and social change reinforced the significance of these activities and management systems. Attention to this mode of identification is crucial in delineating the object of my research on gender, as it implies an instrumentality toward a preconceived end that defines a specific research perspective and visibility. As a practitioner, a master’s degree-holder in conservation and development, a would-be gender expert, it is valley, whose social genesis occurred in the realm of conflicts such as slavery, detribalization, and forced migration. 7 According to him, in articulated economies, there is a social division of labor, with a sectoral articulation between production of capital goods and consumption goods. Such production provides returns to capital and returns to labor, which are socially distributed among the articulated social classes. In disarticulated economies, the modern production sectors are directed to exports or industry with import of capital and technology, and provide returns only to capital (and the distribution of capital will depend on the balance of payments between importers and exporters, which is dependent on the terms of trade in the international market). The returns to


9 instrumental to view the women I am studying as quebradeiras, because of their potential for sustainable management and as agents of change in gender relations. But, is quebradeira the woman herself, an integral member of her people, whose identity is submerged to all aspects of this people’s social life? Or is quebradeira just an identification that responds to my interests and fits into my research inquiry? Surely, there is no problem in studying a fragment, or an aspect of something; however, I need to be clear that this selected aspect is only one part of a person’s identity; the part that I am interested in. Alternatively, I may say that I am studying people who live in the Mearim valley, slashing and burning their roas, 8 clearing pastures, and selling babau kernels. Local merchants, governmental agents, and union leaders would identify them as rural workers or producers. For breaking babau fruits, extracting so-called nontimber forest resources, and defending palm forests, conservationists and militants would identify them as traditional people, or forest dwellers, stressing the fragment of their lives that intersects with common interests. However, they are also mining gold in Suriname, or slashing primary forests along the Transamazon in Par, or remodeling buildings in So Paulo. They have also trespassed and blurred, physically and culturally, the lines between their rural villages and urban Amazonian towns. 9 Although I interviewed people who barely exchanged ideas with someone in a neighboring village, I also talked to people who labor are provided only by the traditional sector of production of wage-goods. In this economy, the capacity for consumption is defined in the exterior and by the elites’ demands for luxuries. 8 Roas can be viewed as the physical gap in the forest, where people cultivate rice, corn, beans, cassava and a variety of other vegetables such as squash, okra, tomatoes, cux and cucumber. Roa also implies a complex social organization and results in the maintenance of a way of life (Porro 1997). 9 See IBGE’s concepts of rural and urban in Census 2000 (IBGE 2000a).


10 explained to me how a letter of exporting credit works, and for whom New York or Bonn are becoming just extra places for negotiating their so-called ‘eco,’ ‘green’ products. In trying to delineate the object of my research – gender relations of a people through an anthropological inquiry – I looked for help in the classic ethnographies. When I first opened Argonauts of the Western Pacific , I was delighted by Malinowski’s description of his entrance to the field. He told how he landed on a tropical beach of the Western Pacific close to a native village, saw the launch that had brought him go sailing away, and faced the uncertainties of living among the “savages,” without a cell phone, e-mail account, GPS, and the like. 10 Despite these uncertainties, anthropological research at his time allowed him the certainties of territory boundaries, ethnic identities, culturally defined occupations, and all sorts of material culture represented by specific pottery, basketry, architecture and so on. He knew that the Mailu would be at certain places, doing certain things, speaking a certain language, because these were the very definition of being a Mailu. In the Nuer’s case, similarly, at least the ethnic boundaries were clear. According to Pritchard, by ‘people’ he meant “all persons who speak the same language and have, in other respects, the same culture, and consider themselves to be distinct from like aggregates” (Evans-Pritchard 1940:5). Unlike the Nuer or the Mailu, the Motu, or the Massim, the subjects of my research do not have a definite territory, a distinct material culture, or even a proper name delimiting an identity per se. If I call them peasants (for lack of a more precise identification) I discover that the peasant concept, which supposedly served to examine this social category, is under scrutiny (Kearney 1996). Unlike campesinos (peasants in other Latin American countries), in their discourses the


11 interviewees do not identify themselves as camponeses (the Portuguese translation for peasants). Historians could trace the subjects of my research as the descendants of enslaved natives of different African tribes in the Guinea Coast, Cape Verde, Angola, Luanda and Benguela, and probably from Sudan or Ethiopia, and of detribalized individuals from swept away, distinct, indigenous nations such as Timbiras, Kanela, and Guajajaras. They were miscegenated with Europeans mostly from Portugal, France and Holland, and with Lebanese. Does the lack of language, material culture, or other visible distinction from “like aggregates,” mean that there are no “people” to be anthropologically studied? Did they disappear as a people, a social group with a distinct ethnicity? As I began my dissertation, my anthropological intention was to discuss gender relations in the realm of a people’s culture. However, how could I do that if the subjects of my research seemed just the leftover descendants of already disappeared peoples? As a contemporary anthropologist without a “Kanela nation” to study, should I study them as the “poor,” as an interviewee referred to themselves as “the nation of the poor”? The “landless,” the “displaced,” the “traditional”? Should I adopt emergent political and occupational identities such as “quebradeiras de cco babau” or “seringueiros”? And for the sake of my interests in gender and conservation issues, should I study them in a fragmentary fashion, electing the “women” (or the “extractor women”) as another endangered category? Would their gender relations be different from those of other equally poor, landless, traditional women of Brazilian society, just adapted to their economic specifics? 10 See Stocking (1992) for other views of Malinowsky’s entrance in the field.


12 These questions that troubled my research are nothing new, and probably noticed also by the development agencies and grassroots organizations acting everywhere in the Amazon. What to do with these surely noticed, but poorly identified, and little known peasantry as a people? What are the ethnic boundaries defining them as a people? Although pointing out a necessary attention to diversity and cultural matters, too often these concerns are overcome by the rhythm and demands of development projects, which apparently erase them. Nonetheless, I believe these questions are at the core of the consistent failures of projects and policies aiming at sustainable development goals supported by “gender and development” initiatives. To understand their ethnic boundaries, which delimit the meaning of being a people, may tell us why they do not participate, or participate in terms that clash with terms imposed by development projects. In this search for approaching gender as something meaningful to an anthropologically defined people, should I go for an archaeology of what is still identifiable in a past culture, excavating clues to figure out their pristine gender relations? Has the core of their cultural realm faded, if it ever existed, in the vagaries of an uncertain citizenship said to be provided by the Brazilian nation-state, so much that they do not even have a culturally defined identity? Contemporary anthropology has for quite a while been changing its focus from ethnic as exotic, to ethnic as belonging to a social group defined by criteria not always based on material culture, geographic location, or specific activities, but historically and socially constructed meanings that may or may not involve these. Barth was the first to develop the concept of ethnic boundaries to deal with social groups defined by ethnicity,


13 instead of looking at the fixed structure of a society and the organic functions of its cultural parts. As a student of Leach and Firth, Barth considered some of the more dynamic concepts offered by structural-functionalists of the 1940s and 1950s. However, along with Gluckman, he was primarily involved with the foci of the anthropology of the 1960s: social change and its dynamic processes (Barth 1969; Previtera 1995). According to Barth (1969:15), “ethnicity is a form of social organization; this implies that the critical focus for investigation becomes the ethnic boundary that defines the group rather than the cultural stuff that it encloses; the critical feature of ethnic group is the characteristic of self-ascription and ascription by the others.” Barth distinguishes ethnicity from culture for its intrinsic interacting approach, in contrast with a more inertial and constraint-like weight of knowledge and value inherent to the construction of the concept of culture (as for example: Durkheim’s “social law” or Tylor’s definition of culture). 11 Rather than behavioral or trait patterns, ethnicity is used to learn why and how the subjects opt to identify themselves with a given social group, and to agree on criteria of differences and similarities in specific social situations. The concept of ethnicity is constructed allowing greater attention to agency, diversity of interests, and levels of collectivity, which are more coherent with our material existence in which “actors are forced to intentionally act, modifying preconditions in a dialectical interaction,” (Barth 1969) while still maintaining the significance of symbols and meanings. In Barth’s conceptualization, the historical 11 Tylor defines culture as a “complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society” (1871, cited in McGee and Warms 1996:26). Durkheim stated that the object of study of sociology were ‘social facts,’ which were not biological or psychological phenomena, but “a category of facts with very distinctive characteristics, it consists of ways of acting, thinking, and feeling, external to the individual, and endowed with a power of coercion, by reason of which they control him”


14 approach should not be confounded with historicism or historical determinism, and concepts related to structuralism and functionalism may serve only at the micro-level, to avoid fatal distortions. Therefore, for the purpose of this dissertation, the Mearim valley as a geographic place is just a point of departure to design the operational limits of my research site, as it is then defined much more dynamically by the ideals, the discourses and practices of a people struggling for trabalho livre to indicate their ethnic boundaries. Trabalho livre or trabalho sem patro is a concept of labor that emerged from multiple life trajectories intertwined with the history of the Mearim valley. This form of labor is the foundation of the ways of life of a people, who have struggled throughout slavery, forced migration, and agrarian conflicts. Trabalho livre is both the cause and the consequence of ways of life in which these social actors make themselves “illegible” to the authorities and dominant sectors. Through trabalho livre, peasants in the Mearim valley struggle to free themselves from dominant manipulation. As Scott (1998:183) affirms, “legibility is a condition of manipulation.” Trabalho livre entails a material and symbolic set of social relations, from which gender relations cannot be dissociated, and is based on principles of autonomy in the control over their family labor, and in the common use of land and forest resources, which demarcate their ethnicities. Having dealt with the theoretical problem of establishing the boundaries of my object of research, there was still the question of the very formation of this object. I draw on Foucault’s (1972) work to carry out this discussion, essential to the opening of this dissertation. He uses as an illustration the discourse of psychopathology since the nineteenth century in Europe, and the formation of its object of research. Foucault said that, in our attempts to delineate the object of our studies, by the practice of our own (1895, cited in McGee and Warms 1996:86). See Durkheim’s (1895) Rules of the Sociological


15 discourses, we end up in fact creating, forming an object in its own, which is not the very object that we intend to study. “This formation is made possible by a group of relations established between authorities of emergence, delimitation, and specification. . . . These relations are established between institutions, economic and social processes, behavioral patterns, systems of norms, techniques, types of classification, modes of characterization; and these relations are not present in the object” (1972:44-45). I give an illustration of my reading of Foucault. In a conference on tropical conservation and development held at UF in 2002, a scientific authority, advocating for the establishment of parks to preserve nature, showed apparently convincing pictures to demonstrate the efficiency of parks in protecting forests against the advancement of shantytowns, and challenged the participants to refute the unquestionable right of the future generations. A hanging question in my mind was: whose future generation? If one’s child is dead of hunger today, because land is so concentrated, whose will be the right to see a forest in the future? Above all, who are the authorities delimiting and classifying types of nature to preserve, and selecting types of people to enjoy them in the future? Although any one of the individuals living in the pictured shantytown was consuming much less energy and resources than any of those privileged to leave descendants to visit the park in the present and future, the rate of energy and resource consumption was not the institutionalized mode to select and characterize them. A picture showed the clear boundary between the park and the shantytown, but no questions arose about boundaries between the “green” discourse and the Method and Tylor’s (1871) The Science of Culture. In Primitive Culture. London: John Murray.


16 laptop-paper-battery-air-conditioning-frequent-flyer practices of any of us participating in the conference. Sustainability (the capacity of reproduction of resources and relations within a given system) is a result of specific relations between people and nature; relations based on shortand long-term conservation practices involving social and natural resources. However, most likely, relations extraneous to these mentioned relations that form sustainability itself (the real thing) delineate the formation of sustainability as an object of research. Surely relations that I am calling extraneous to sustainability itself (relations among scientific, political, or social leader authorities) do influence how people are going to relate with nature. However, these relations (relations that I myself live as a scientist, a consumer, a member of the privileged classes) should not define the formation of my object of research. Rather, these relations should be scrutinized in my research. They are part of my data, but do not define them. In the process of choosing and delineating the object of my research, while selecting my bibliography, courses and advisors, which provided me with specific theoretical and methodological instruments, I made use of concepts related to my trajectory as a practitioner and a candidate for a doctorate. By working under the guidance of the church, NGOs, and agencies of cooperation, conservation, and development; and by listening to and reading the recommended authors and authorities (conservationists, development and gender experts), I absorbed whole constructions of what is development and what is underdevelopment, what is nature and what is conservation, what is a woman, what is a man, and what their relations should look like,


17 what is global and what is local. I selected the necessary concepts and methods used for these constructions. The social genesis and application of these selected concepts should be scrutinized in order to clarify their relations to the proposed object of my research: gender relations associated with trabalho livre, in the face of development discourses. As Foucault exemplifies, when the psychopathologist authorities attempt to objectively define, let’s say, ‘madness without delirium,’ they actually create it as an object by the means of a related discourse sustained by the power of their authority. Can the words of this discourse actually create a real ‘mad man without delirium’? As Escobar (1991) invites us to think, can imposing discourses of development create a real ‘underdeveloped’ people? These are the relations between discourses and things one is led to think about when proposing an object of study. As I wanted to study gender and discourses related to “gender and development,” I attempted to delineate women, men, and Amazonian nature. Actually, beforehand, I had in my mind a state of “disease,” in which endangered nature and women were in troubled relations, and my study was supposed to be part of an intervention to fix them. Aimed to delineate the object of my research, by the force of the techniques, procedures, and forms of visualization and selection of my instruments of research, I vested my authority as an experienced grassroots practitioner and Ph.D. candidate, to enunciate and form my object, and imagined that the models, structures, instruments, and data constituting my object of research were the actual people I am trying to understand. Foucault suggested that I should not, in search of the real ‘thing,’ try to destroy these creations or the ‘discourses’ I have constructed to form the object of my research.


18 Rather, I should discover how and why ‘gender relations among Amazonian peasants in the context of sustainable development’ became the object of my research. What are the relations established between the author and the object of my research? How were the concepts used in this selection originated? Why am I using this and not that discourse in describing my object? I should not deny or deviate from the fact that I have indeed created a discourse and object, as an image of the ‘thing’ that I wish to understand, because “in analyzing the discourses themselves, one sees the loosening of the embrace, apparently so tight, of words and things, and the emergence of a group of rules proper to the discursive practice”(Foucault 1972:49). Answering these questions, I learn about the “practices that systematically form the objects of which (I) speak” (1972:49) and then I get closer to an understanding of them. Therefore, as I begin my dissertation, I assume that my ethnography is about people whose identity and history have been denied and made socially invisible by the global and national society. It is about people who are currently struggling to control their ways of life, in which trabalho livre is an ideal pursued, and lived in their everyday practices. Trabalho livre is indeed the basis of their mode of production, and therefore, delineates social class, but more than that, it is the basis of their mode of living, including living gender relations. They may strategically assume multiple identities, which may be situational and strategic, but these are all based on principles delineated by their ethnicity, which profoundly affects and is affected by their struggles for these ways of life. In conflicting contexts, I focus on gender relations as part of their ethnic principles, expecting to figure out who they are.


19 In my ethnography, I also intend to approach who they are (by scrutinizing the relation between the researcher and the researched); and therefore to disclose who I am (the position of the ethnographer and the author). The relativity between the author and the people studied clarifies the text I intend to produce. This research strategy deals with the pertinent critique of the authoritarian and omnipotent author (Clifford and Marcus 1986, Rosenau 1992). The Researcher: Who I Am As an agronomist whose debut in anthropology came late in her working career, still struggling with the possibilities of modern ethnography, I marveled at the validity of idiographic accounting obtained through systematic direct and participant observation. I was shocked at some of the pertinent critiques by those labeled as postmodernists and poststructuralists. Yearning to land on a solid theoretical field where I could safely solve accumulated questions, I got trapped in debates in which critiques failed to replace a defeated explanation by another paradigm. Rather, it could well be that there would be no paradigm after all (Clifford and Marcus 1986). Within this diffuse theoretical and methodological mode currently reigning in the discipline, I still believed that my long-term concern for answers to lived experiences would help me to clear the path for my inquiries, separating preposterous provocations from fertile critiques. However, it was again the reading of classical ethnographies that helped me to craft my formation as an ethnographer. I take Malinowski’s example again to illustrate my point. The publication of some personal accounts after his death show how relations between researched and researcher may affect research results. At the level of impressions, my disappointment with Malinowski’s racist or sexist remarks in disclosed private writings clashed with my enchantment with his work as an


20 ethnographer. 12 The fact that he did not use the same derogatory terms in his published ethnography as he did in his private diary, shows that even at that time, they were like hidden sins, not appropriate for an author, especially an anthropologist. At the research level, however, the contrast between his ethnography and his private accounts 13 led me to investigate my own “hidden sins.” It compelled me to hunt for my camouflaged “ghosts,” which the contemporaneous world does not allow me to see, as in these development-oriented globalized times, they are taken as natural or acceptable, just as many of Malinowski’s remarks were not so “politically incorrect” in his colonial time. In a letter to his future wife, on November 10, 1917, he wrote: “Morover, it seems so absurd to write things about the kula, when any nigger walking about the street in a dirty lavalava might know much more about it than I do!” (1995:48). 14 His distress was to realize that, in spite of all sorts of ignorance he attributed to the subject, and in spite of all the knowledge on his own side, the subject knew what he did not: the secret of the economics of kula. Today, the opposite happens; rather than distress, the so-called politically correct researchers are ready to recognize that, in spite of all the social and material deprivation that local people have suffered throughout history, they hold what we do not: local knowledge. There is now a sense in which local people have become respected for their potential contributions to scientific research. We expect that such knowledge will be the key to great achievements, be it a community-based sustainable 12 See Stocking 1992 and Malinowski and Masson 1995. 13 By the end of the 1930s, in London, Malinowski had the opportunity to eliminate some of his letters, but instead he highlighted parts, ordered them, and kept the letters with his other papers, in his office and his house (Malinowski and Masson 1995). 14 The kula is a form of inter-tribal exchange involving the circulation of symbolic and material goods among partners throughout the Trobriand Islands. The economic anthropological analysis of this practice led to understand the complex institutions and principles among the Trobrianders. See Malinowski 1961.


21 forest management or fairness in noncapitalist gender relations leading to better resource management. However, during my research I came to realize that my hidden sins emerged when there were indications that these local people might not hold in and by themselves, the key to the desired “sustainable management” or “gender and development.” I was troubled to learn that the key is not the imagined isolation of closed traditional people, but the unveiling of more complex and inclusive realms and relations. I recall the distress of a young forester who told me almost in secret: “To tell the truth, these seringueiros, 15 traditional rubber tappers, do not mind cutting their forests as long as good money falls into their hands!” I also was confused to realize that regarding outcomes in the grassroots organizations, women in decision-making positions were not much different than men. Contemporary notions of racial or female “inferiority” permeated Malinowski’s private writings, and had consequent implications in his ethnography: erasing women from it. I realized that a contemporary assumed and discoursed type of “superiority” of women, forest dwellers, or communities also permeated my writings, and these had implications for my research: invention of an object of research. Investigating why was I assigning superior positions to certain categories, with which expectations and charges, I found it necessary to include my Self in the investigation. In the process of examining not only anthropological Others, but also my Self, by contrast and comparison, I could trace cultural differences and similarities, and above all, 15 During the rubber boom, rubber tappers lived from extractive activities that did not harm the Amazonian forests. After the boom, greater labor allocation was directed to agriculture, as tappers needed to survive without the cash from this extractive product. As political and economic conditions changed and cattle ranching, agriculture and timber extraction took greater shares of the forests, conservationist discourses pointing to “traditional” rubber tapping as the key to conserving the forests clashed with current strategies adopted by the rubber tappers.


22 elicit the connections between Self and Other that make and continuously reproduce discourses of them as distinct and isolated social entities. In my pursuit to understand gender relations, I tried to establish the connections between the subjects and my discourses and practices on gender. I wanted to understand why and how we, researchers and practitioners, invest so much on gender issues of the Other to promote the social changes we, as untouchable authors, want and take for granted as desirable for all. Another way to avoid paradigmatic authority was that proposed by Marcus and Fischer (1986), treating anthropological inquiries as experiments, freeing us from the authority of paradigms and, picking a concept here, a method there, trying new ways of doing anthropology. A decade and a half has passed and neither a new paradigm nor a nonparadigmatic era has been established yet, allowing us to still talk about an experimental phase. However, while experimentation allows greater freedom from the paradigms and also results in less authoritative findings, it may also imply less commitment, greater illusion of manipulation, and less consequential statements. By putting my own experiences in as part of the research, I attempt to transform the experimental character of the research into experiential, which stresses taking part and responsibility for it. With the lightness and humbleness of the experimental perspective, it is carried out with the commitment of the undeletable nature of interconnected lived experiences. In this manner, I can keep surveillance, not on the author herself, who must be free to write, but on the ghost of authoritarian authorship. The Research Relation: Researcher and Researched in the Same Text As a practitioner, I have been beaten so many times as a consequence of misreading multiple realities as my own, that the postmodern warning about the problems of ethnography as the “real” description of a culture was a readily accepted critique. It


23 sounded fair enough to have in mind the image of a text, a simple although expectedly useful, representation of the results of my fieldwork. As the research advanced, I confirmed that the distance between myself, as an author, and the subjects, whose realities I was aiming to represent as a text, was indeed immense. Whatever efforts for an accurate, at least valid representation of the subjects’ realities would not reach that objectivity prescribed by Piaget. “Objectivity consists in so fully realizing the countless intrusions of the self in everyday thought and the countless illusions which result – illusions of sense, language, point of view, value, etc. – that the preliminary step to every judgment is the effort to exclude the intrusive self” (Piaget 1972:34, cited in Keller 1985:117). So, as I could not exclude it, I found it better to include the self at once, and keep on eye on it. This does not mean that I want to go “native,” considering that we are all Brazilians so to speak, as I still think that the distinction Self-Other is a useful research strategy, which does not necessarily lead to dualisms, 16 but helps to understand how these distinct parts can be connected. Besides, as Rosaldo said so well, “not unlike other ethnographers, so-called natives can be insightful, sociologically correct, axe-grinding, self-interested, or mistaken” (1989:50). Nonetheless, while trying to make sense of my collected data, I realized that the distance between subjects and me was not qualitatively like that between a text and a neutral and impersonal author. It might have been if I was writing this dissertation after the first year and a half of living in Maranho. But along the way, occasionally, there were those snaps in our sociologically distant lives in which the author was thrown into the text and the characters just absorbed her as part of the script. I might just be thrown back out as


24 suddenly as I was in, but my authorship would never be the same again. Actually, the text itself was changed, not only by the impersonal sequences of economic, social or ecological processes, but also by a minuscule, and yet detectable, and therefore analyzable, participation of the author, transformed then into actor. The anthropological and sociological distance between the actual subjects remained, indeed, but shared experiences made it acquire different meanings, calling for a more holistic approach, greater historical responsibility, and ultimately demanding self-critique. In methodological terms, the figures of an authoritarian, neutrally positioned author and a bi-dimensional, flat text became imprecise, and called for other methodological devices. I propose for this dissertation a methodology fit for practitioners and applied anthropologists turned into ethnographers, in which the concept of shared experience is used for analytical purposes. I agree with Rabinow (1982) that a story is only worth telling when essential and interconnected changes happen to both researched and researcher, as an integrated, shared experience turned into a text. I am not claiming that the resulting text, the telling of an experience or the description of its circumstances, is a unifying reality for both researcher and researched. Rather, I suggest greater attention to shared experience as a strategy to simply deal with multiple realities, and the understanding of one experience as thresholds to other experiences, especially those in gender relations, as they are an essential and complex part of social life. As Turner (1982:84) says, “in social life cognitive, affective and volitional elements are bound up with one another and are alike primary, seldom found in their pure form, often hybridized, and only comprehensible by the investigator as lived experience, his/hers as well as, and in relation to, theis.” 16 See Kearney’s (1996) differentiation between the modernist Self and non-modernist Self.


25 In addition, being the author and simultaneously part of the text, I propose to enhance the notion of text with the idea of environment, not in a biophysical, but in a virtual sense, suggesting a more interactive and multi-dimensional text. With the same figure of speech that I say that I am producing my dissertation in a Windows environment, I invite the reader to read and experience my text as a virtual environment that I assumedly created for representation matters. However, approximating my being part author and part actor, I share the view of my experience as perceived by myself in an attempt to explain why I presented my text as I did. In this way, I invite the reader to think about why s/he reads it in the way s/he does. The following narrative may illustrate my proposition. We had arrived in Lago do Junco in 1986, a year of drought. People were not fully recovered from the much more severe drought of 1983, so that it had a cumulative effect. An examination of economic, environmental and sociological data for that period could show the effects of the meager “subsistence” fields, roas. These effects could also be seen in the squalid legs and arms of the many have-nots of Lago do Junco, who used to visit me at the time. After the first months of our arrival, as a young mother in my mid twenties and the wife of the coordinator of the priest’s project, I thought I had reasonably overcome the initial stage of “culture shock,” and begun to situate myself in that dynamic position in-between charity and assistance, and social practice and advocacy. But when Maria Mandioca came for the third time in a short period to visit me with her many emaciated children, once again, at their sight, I sent my thoughts to Biafra, unbearable as it was to admit starvation with names and known faces so geographically close, within my own country and my home. My bemused distress contrasted with


26 Maria’s singular sense of humor, so it was hard to make sense of the positions of our relationship. Even then, I had the impression that she had come more for the fun of watching my weirdness than anything else, which made our perceived positions not quite hierarchical. With my own healthy baby playing and running around, I had taught Maria to treat Simone, her undernourished, dehydrated younger baby, following the directions of the nationwide campaign of a homemade antidehydration mix. I had shared some food that I knew was just a cloak for their hunger and my guilt. On this third visit, however, Simone arrived already shivering from a burning fever. While waiting for transportation to the infirmary in the neighboring town, following the instructions left by the doctor working in the project, I bathed her skeletal little body to cool down the fever. The experience of caressing her denied babyhood wrapped in that scaly, flaccid skin changed my life, my reading, and my authorship for well beyond her death, hours later. For a snapshot, a lapse in the social order compressed the infinite distance between hers and my safe, fully lived life into a single point of shared experience of social impotence. All the material and historical conditions remained, but the author perceiving and interpreting them changed. Was it just an intellectual experience, at the expense of her experience with death, which I am writing down without her informed consent? I do not know. But what I know is that it is exactly this undeletable lesson of “not knowing” that made this experience a transforming door to the next experience. This experience, an unstructured environment of social nonsense, turned into a text, undeniably, and ever since questions and ridicules the authority and power of my authorship, because for a moment I was part of a text. Thinking about it now, I believe her death did not enunciate a postmodern death of the author (Rosenau 1992). Rather, this experience preannounced


27 the painful and lengthy delivery of an author-actor with a specific combination of power and powerlessness of her own. Writing about shared experiences is therefore based on the awareness of such a combination, which demands shared responsibilities and risks, and a careful selection of a theoretical framework. Where Should We Walk Through: the Theoretical Framework The ultimate anthropological advice I got from professors and literature before leaving for the field was to care for the diversity, to expect the unexpected, and to listen to divergences. Surely I had lots of these, but I was also amazed to hear women in social movements in different sites in the Amazon, and probably the world around, repeating the exact same words I had read in my books: “Sex is a biological construction! Gender is a social construction! Without gender, no sustainable development!” What social construction is gender after all, to be spoken of so uniformly everywhere? How was this “common” discourse formed? Or how was it broadcast? By which means were the notions of gender and sustainable development germinated? What presuppositions did they involve? From which positions and by whom were they first and continuously spelled out, impregnating a totalizing language and history of gender relations? Do these reverberating slogans carry the same goals and effects everywhere? Or do they collide with other equally powerful (and imposed or proposed) discourses, then being restricted to certain places, certain social groups, and hierarchies of interest? And above all, what local discursive and nondiscursive practices do they supplant? The different situations in which I heard these uniform discourses were circumscribed to the organized social movements. They belonged to dialogues carried out in the interface between local social movements and development initiatives. However, even in these contexts, this uniformity is questioned. During my fieldwork, I had the


28 opportunity to participate in some of the “women’s meetings” promoted by NGOs or grassroots organizations. In one of these meetings, dona Zlia, answering what gender meant to her, without a pint of irony or cynicism, said: “Gnero? Gnero pr mim o arroz, o feijo, o milho!” Gender? Gender for me is rice, beans, corn!” In Portuguese, gender is translated as gnero, which is indeed a form to categorize men and women, but gnero can be also used in the expression gnero alimentcio, meaning edible genre. Her observation led me to think that: Some women have made the option to really get into the gender discussions carried out within the social movements as a means to find new ways to deal with relations between men and women. But some other women wanted less interferences and control in the way they were struggling against their men, and more support on the obstacles against their struggles for survival with their men. Nonetheless, the discourses in unison on gender as a solution for the malady of underdevelopment somehow superseded any discontinuous or dissonant discourse, presenting all women as a same “Third world woman” speaking about the same gender. In the literature, authors have also pointed out these differences in meanings and discourses, which, because of power differentials, result in economic and ecological material changes. For example, Niekisch (1992) talks about how Europeans’ views on nature have been imposed on forest management of tropical ecosystems originated from diverse peoples and histories. Through the direct translation and extrapolation of their terminology and categories, European forestry aiming to engineer the use of forests for selected marketable timber, reduced a multitude of complex components and species and relations, labeling them as nontimber forest products. In this mode, entire forests of babau palms were dislocated from center stage, as nontimber sources, and for better or


29 for worse, to the margins of the focus of attention of investors and donors. These powerful extraneous discursive and nondiscursive practices driven by market development began to permeate local ones, daunting local practices of gender relations and development. Women, who mostly do not participate in timber extraction but in “nontimber” extraction, were turned into “non-men,” being defined by what they were not. Gradually, even in the so-called community-based forest management projects, flora and fauna were thereafter designated as “timber and nontimber.” And the same happened with the diverse social groups and relations among them, then reduced into “managers or non-managers,” “participants or non-participants,” “organized or disorganized,” establishing a common language and totalizing history for tropical forests and peoples around the globe. I therefore sought a theoretical framework that did not reproduce these discourses as truths, but rather recognized them, and identified the genesis and use of related notions and concepts, analyzing them in the different fields of knowledge related to my research. I discuss the notions of gender here as belonging basically to two distinct fields of knowledge. One is constructed in close relation to the operative processes of development as a policy defining international relations, which encompasses agencies and institutions focusing on so-called poverty alleviation in the Third World. Attention to women, and later to gender, is an intrinsic and integral part of this operational realm, where overall debates are about efficiency in reaching development goals. The other field of knowledge is related to theories and conceptual frameworks constructed within specific disciplines, and therefore, more subject to debates in which the ideologies involved are also the object of scrutiny. Development is examined mostly


30 as an expression of liberal neo-classical economic thought, and expansion of capitalism by Western powers. Regarding gender in Anthropology, if before it was confined to chapters on marriage and kinship, attention to gender aims increasingly to understand the inequalities and conflicts brought about by economic and ecological changes. Going deeper in this disciplinary field, the gender question mobilized anthropologists and feminists to analyze inequalities and conflicts among the very scholars, men and women, speaking from the so-called First and Third Worlds. In sum, as we will discuss next, this is a field of knowledge marked by strongly opposing views of gender and development, and by a myriad of positions on how to deal with them. Gender in an Operative Field of Knowledge In this operative field, knowledge is produced by elaborating on the success or failure of an intervention at either micro or macro level, or envisioning the application of future actions, aiming to establish development policies. 17 Therefore, permeating the research, there is usually an implicit intention of intervention, and attention to gender is viewed as a way to operationalize these interventions, as for example, control over reproduction: “Gender bias is also the single most important cause of rapid population growth” (Jacobson 1992); or economic distribution: “gender is a major social factor in achieving growth and equity, therefore projects need to mainstream gender” (Moser et al. 1999:13). As institutional bodies ruling this field of knowledge, I selected as major examples acting in the Mearim valley: the World Bank (via Northeast Integrated Development Program and Rural Poverty Alleviation Project Maranho) and UN (via UNDP and 17 For a thorough analysis of the ‘women and development’ and ‘gender and development’ approaches, see Kabeer’s Reversed Realities (1994).


31 UNICEF). These institutions spell out their gender discourses within an overall development discourse through conferences, policies, programs and decades of development, affecting governments and NGOs. “This apparatus came into existence roughly in the period of 1945 to 1955 and has not since ceased to produce new arrangements of knowledge and power, new practices, theories, strategies, and so on. In sum, it has successfully deployed a regime of government over the Third World, a space for subject peoples that ensures certain control over it” (Escobar 1995a:9). Regarding gender, the knowledge produced in this field had a major pioneer in Ester Boserup, who had worked for the Danish government and later for the UN Economic Commission for Europe. Her intercontinental analysis of agriculture and technology reflected the goal of intervention, both by controlling reproduction and by educating girls so that they would not become “inferior workers” (Boserup 1970:220). Throughout the decades of development, this focus on women, initially assumed by sectors or programs within these international institutions, such as WID (Women in Development), was gradually transferred to gender, assumed by both WID and GAD (Gender and Development). In initial stages, WID addressed women as homogeneous and isolated targets, seeking to integrate them more efficiently in a development process. Taking development as a given, the WID approach intended to understand the specificity of women’s roles, their responsibilities in production and reproduction, assuming women as a homogeneous category. WID aimed to increase productivity by improving their access to and control of resources and benefits. The main idea was to make the process of development more efficient. After about a decade, GAD emerged, approaching women in their socially


32 constructed relations with men, taking into consideration other social relations (ethnicity, class, age, race). This perspective resulted in a potentially more conflicted approach, in that it addresses subordination and inequality, which not only challenges power relations between men and women within the household, but also power relations in the development process itself. GAD, since its conceptualization, aimed to introduce social change (Moser 1993). In theory, these are the distinctions, and the critiques to WID seem very pertinent. Though both originated in the context of UN conferences, GAD emerged in 1995 informed and departing from the experiences of WID, which was originated in 1975. Currently, the groups who are still labeled as WID use mostly the same conceptual frameworks and practices as GAD, leading me to think of them more as phases than contrasting approaches. For example, Tinker (1995), who was viewed as pro-WID, wrote against sectoral programs that isolate and fragment women’s lives, advocating for an inclusion of men in domestic issues. On the other hand, practitioners working with GAD often ask why they speak of gender when in practice they are working with women only. In 1999, the World Bank personnel were still unclear about GAD since “World Bank policy documents on gender lack a common conceptual rationale, language, and underlying policy approach” (Moser et al.1999:5). The solution was to make a sort of manual with text boxes, lists of orderly, synthesized findings, and tables. As Moser states from the beginning of her work, it was a “desk study.” After all, “incorporating gender analysis and gender informed strategies into the Bank’s lending and nonlending operations and research programs is an effective method of improving both the performance and relevance of World Bank projects” (World Bank 2000).


33 I understand that many relevant concepts arose from the contexts of UN and World Bank efforts in implementing GAD, and that they inform aspects of my own research. However, as an approach I do not think it is fit for ethnographic, long-term, in-depth anthropological research, because it has at its foundation the aim of a priori intervention and, to my knowledge, its construction is not based on adequate fieldwork. “This (GAD) is essential to ensure consistently effective and sustainable interventions” (Moser et al. 1999). In this time in which we are searching for a plural conceptualization of gender, how can I use a definition of gender, neatly confined in one of the many text-boxes of manuals, determined a priori, in desk studies in the World Bank’s offices? Besides, GAD is not for just any women, GAD is for women in “underdeveloped” countries. In this sense, women who do not perceive themselves as “underdeveloped” or in need to be “developed,” have to find their own ways to conceptualize gender, because “GAD identifies gender as an integral part of a development strategy” (Moser et al. 1999:3). As an approach, I believe that both WID and GAD are overall approaches to resolve the UN’s and the World Bank’s projects, and not necessarily people’s projects. Diverse actors circulate in this field of knowledge. Among them, Tinker (1990, cited in Kabeer 1996:12) identifies those operating in a pragmatic mode, related to a mission and agenda viewed as concrete, current, and urgent. The operational and pragmatic character of their production led Tinker to assume non ideological intentions. This assumption was rightly criticized by Kabeer, because it necessarily implies a totalizing, unifying world-view, which makes its hegemonic agenda seemed to be accepted and adopted for all, “dispensing with the need to spell out the theoretical


34 premises on which it is foundedHowever, no advocacy, scholarship or policy is entirely free from theory or innocent of ideology” (1994:12). In this field of knowledge, operational definitions such as these spelled by the UN emerged as central discourses: “There are two kinds of differences between women and men: sex and gender. Sex is determined by the physical differences exhibited by females and males. Gender refers to the socially determined differences between the two sexes: the relationship between women and men and their social roles in their societies or communities. Gender roles arise from the socially assigned differences between women and men. Perceptions about men vis--vis women are changeable and vary with class, race, caste, ethnicity, religion, and age – and also with time” (UN 1999). In spite of these apparently straightforward, neutral, ideologically exempted operational definitions, we can identify specific intentions in the rationales to apply these definitions. In these rationales we can better recognize elements and intentions related to the world-view criticized by Kabeer, as in this example given by the World Bank. “Incorporating gender analysis and gender informed strategies into the Bank's lending and non lending operations and research programs is an effective method of improving both the performance and relevance of World Bank projects. If projects in Latin America and the Caribbean are to effectively achieve this, they should consider whether men's and women's demands, preferences and existing opportunities differ and, if so, ensure projects and services are tailored to the needs of both.” 18 However, how development not only tailored projects and services to the people’s needs, categorizing them and planning responses, but also tailored the needs themselves, 18 ( 1999)


35 was discussed in Escobar’s work, which belongs to the second field of knowledge discussed. Gender in an Anthropological Field of Knowledge The field of knowledge regarding gender and development here discussed was constructed within the discipline of Anthropology almost contemporarily to the “gender and development” in the operational field, and marked by conflicting positions. 19 By the end of the 1960s, Hymes (1969) was already urging anthropologists to challenge development. In the 1980s, Murray (1987:235) published his positive view on a development project “rooted in anthropological research and whose very character was determined by ongoing anthropological direction and anthropologically informed managerial prodding.” Meanwhile, Bennet (1988) discussed the ambiguity common to anthropologists either participating or non participating in development processes involving the subjects they used to study. In the beginning of the 1990s, Escobar (1991) criticized Murray’s work, initiating a series of publications against development in Latin America. In the meanwhile, at the time the absence of women in the first decades of development began to be questioned, socio-cultural feminist anthropologists were also shaking the static and harmonious ethnographic male-centered household built by male anthropologists. Ortner (1972) questioned Radcliffe-Brown and Levi-Strauss. Leacock (1977) and Leacock and Etienne (1980) challenged Evans-Pritchard, Lvi-Strauss, Harris, and Meillassoux. Using different arguments and perspectives, male anthropologists were attributing the supposedly universal subordination of women to biological reproductive 19 See Gender at the Crossroads of Knowledge: Feminist Anthropology in the Postmodern Era, by Leonardo (1991) and Feminism and Anthropology, by Moore (1988).


36 causes. In coherent structures and organic functions of a society, they marginalized women as social actors and objectified them as reproducers. New readings on Marx by Leacock and Sacks, on Weber by Rosaldo, on Lacan and Freud by Chodorow (Leonardo 1991) set the stage for gender in this anthropological field of knowledge. Although the study of gender relations in Anthropology shares notions and methods that emerged in the operative field of knowledge of gender, its focus on the production of theory, concepts, methodologies, research strategies, and analysis of empirical observations tends to be less compromised with development goals. In cases of a more applied perspective, the interventions are not directly driven by development motifs as goals, and often there is advocacy against development actions and institutions. Although also informed by the operational approach, and sometimes funded by the same agencies, it has mostly followed a pace and pursued inquiries diverse in nature and perspective. Departing from restricted chapters on marriage and kinship, ethnographers began to listen to women’s voices, and question their invisibility not only in reproduction and production matters at domestic level, but also in public and political domains. In addition, contributions from scholars of gay and lesbian, black, and colonized backgrounds challenged monolithic conceptualizations of gender, demanding a more plural conceptualization of gender as a departure from total discourses led by Western white feminists. Furthermore, this conceptualization is better seen as the “coming out” of other feminisms, which existed long before the emergence of Western feminism, in the lives of people around the globe. It emerged for broader audiences in the wake of the deep social, economic, and cultural changes, contemporaneous to women’s movements and the


37 reorganization of the leftist movements beginning in the 1970s, and evolving into new forms since then. The emergence of new conceptualizations of gender, gestated and delivered by several sectors of diverse social segments, especially the black, lesbian and gay movements, and movements of women oppressed by colonialism and development, has been expressed in this disciplinary field of knowledge by a multiplicity of critiques and new theoretical constructions. Beginning with de Beauvoir’s (1993) famous phrase: “we are not born women, but become women,” the conceptualization of gender as a social construction distinct from biological sex has endured several intellectual inquiries. De Beauvoir unmakes essentialist constructions of the social category women, showing that becoming a woman is a project that one undertakes within a field of social relations, which are established in such ways that limit the female subject from her birth. Given such limitations, although not nature-based, but observed in most if not all societies, Western feminists assumed a sisterhood among women. The idea of sisterhood is based on the premise of a single gender identity, constructed in opposition to men, and related to women’s universal subordination, cross-cutting class, race, age, sexual orientation or ethnic categorizations. However, white Western feminists were challenged by a new conceptualization of gender, which is associated with the concept of identity as self-ascribed and ascribed by society (Terborg-Penn 1987:50). The alleged universal experience of being a woman was questioned by the black women’s movement because being a “black woman” is different than just “being a woman” or just “being a black person,” since one’s identity is not dissociable. (And this is a major concept for my dissertation, since I view peasant identity based on trabalho livre, as inseparable from one’s identity as a woman or a man). Black


38 feminism was then constructed as a distinct, disruptive feminism, because if white feminism is a form of liberation that does not effectively problematize racism, it can be viewed instead as a form of oppression. Besides, social experiences in slavery, colonialism, neo-colonialism, apartheid, and underdevelopment surely bred distinct feminist practice and theory. According to Sudarkasa (1987), gender differences related to African societies are not necessarily hierarchical, leading to less oppositional relations between (black) men and women, and distinct conceptualization of gender. By contrast, the lesbian critique against the white Western feminist concept of gender was exactly because of its association with identity, in the sense that identity indicates a commonality toward one main unit. Advocating against gender as a binary, lesbian gender theory criticizes gender identity for agglutinating a diversity of gender relations toward only one of the two units taken for granted by society in general. Phelan (1994) criticizes de Beauvoir’s distinction of women from men by placing women in a position of “missing something,” something which should be regained in the field of social relations. Feminists moved by Beauvoir’s thoughts struggled to achieve “equality” to men’s rights (actually, equality to dominant men’s rights). Instead, Phelan (1994:2) states, “we can never be free to be other than what we are; we can never be ‘men’ as well as men can, and we will never be ‘women’ just as heterosexual women might be.” Therefore, their concept of gender does not hold a binary, but a multiplicity of identities, and I could see the rightness of her point in several situations in the Mearim valley. As a third major trend, the conceptualization of gender among women oppressed by colonialism, development, and globalization presented also a multiplicity of expressions, even within each country, region, or village. Such conceptualization was deeply


39 connected to their situation of women exploited by peripheral capitalism, and had a very informal character. Let’s take as an example the women’s urban movement in So Paulo, which began as popular mobilizations for practical needs, but in the 1970s and 1980s transformed into gender-specific strategic interests. At that point, disagreements regarding a “hierarchy of oppressions” began to divide women as feminist, partisan-feminist, antifeminist, antipartisan, women-only and men-and-women movements (Alvarez 1990: 110-136). In Caldeira’s (1990:47-75) research with urban Eclesial Base Communities, heterogeneity of expressions is also a key to understand how the emergence of gender issues among women provoked wide cultural changes. These changes led to new forms of political mobilization, many times, displacing traditional categories such as class, parties, and formal institutions. This was overly chaotic to Western feminists’ understanding, and was regarded as false consciousness, not feminism, and politically immature. To which, Corcoran-Nantes (1993:155) responds that women’s mobilizations have intrinsically intertwined gender and issues of family struggles to survive, so essential for developing countries; “whether they choose to describe these as feminist or not is irrelevant. What is important for women of the popular classes is that their concerns are firmly on the political agenda.” I believe that Latin America’s conceptualization of gender is one that better questioned the Western feminist “displacement of the production paradigm.” In sum, this plural conceptualization of gender defied the view of the white woman’s experiences as representing all women’s experiences, and white Western feminisms as representing all feminisms. However, the question posed by Benhabib and Cornell (1987) remains not clearly answered in practice: how can this discourse of


40 universal sisterhood be compatible with the feminist ideals of social change, since it erases other essential differences determining women’s subordination? On the other hand, with such a plurality of perspectives, is it still possible to conceptualize gender as a principle ordering societies, and feminism as an attempt to re-order it? bell hooks states that all white males oppress white females and black men and women, all white females oppress black men and women, and all black men oppress black women. Therefore, gender differences would be undermined by race. Latino, Asian, and African women might say that all, whether black or white, male or female, privileged members of economic systems sustaining the capitalist “core” in the so-called First World are oppressors of all subordinated members of peripheral capitalism. It follows that globalized relations would undermine the transformational political character imbued in the conceptualization of gender. Mohanty provoked a harsh debate that symbolizes the fragmentation caused by the plural conceptualization of gender in “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses,” in which she revealed the causes and consequences on theoretical as well as practical grounds of maintaining the sisterhood. Two years later, Mohanty (1993, cited in Gallin, Ferguson and Harper 1995:3) proposed the idea of “imagined communities.” This is a concept, strategic and temporary in character, to create “imagined communities of women with divergent histories and social locations, woven together by the political threads of opposition to forms of domination that are not only pervasive but systemic.” If these imagined communities of women will work, it has yet to be seen, but at any rate, the importance of gender has come a long way, attaining its own space in the academic debates.


41 Gender in an Interactive Field of Knowledge The construction of a critical thought for my anthropological inquiry began with a historical materialist perspective, structured under a Marxist orientation, since I viewed negotiations on the contradictions of gender relations as part of struggles for social change. The explanatory power of this approach helped me to safely work on the articulations between and contradictions within the different modes of production in the Mearim valley. This was my point of departure to understand the peasantry in the Mearim Valley, because I wanted to understand gender relations as integral parts of overall social relations, keeping a distance from the Western Feminist ‘displacement of the production paradigm’ and essentialist assumptions (e.g. Shiva 1988, Mies et al 1988), and relations of production seemed a fundamental aspect in explaining my observations. However, the social relations related to production that the Marxist approach allowed me to grasp had broader and rougher tuning than those required to understand gender as part of social relations of specific peoples, and class alone did not suffice to explain both the gender contradictions internal to the social units lived by these peoples and among different sectors within the working class. Foucault has referred to Marx as one of the pioneers in breaking with history as a coherently arranged continuum, bringing conflict and contradiction as disruptions to the unison history told by a supposedly cohesive subject named humanity (1972:13). Nonetheless, my stay in the villages of the Mearim valley showed further and less sharply defined contradictions than class struggles. Surely the concept of class could be further elaborated; as in terms of gender, Engels had said: “The first class opposition that appears in history coincides with the development of the antagonisms between man and woman in monogamous marriage, and the first class oppression coincides with that of the female sex by the male” (Engels


42 1972:129). However, in spite of this attribution of original “sin,” in the form Marxism was worked out, unequal class relations minimized gender inequalities to the point of considering women’s struggles against male dominance to be a false consciousness, disturbing class struggles against capitalism (Maguire 1984). An illustration of this perspective was the opposition assumed by the union movement in the Mearim valley, when grassroots women’s organizations began to emerge in the late 1980s, alleging that they were dividing the movement. Later, when it was seen as unavoidable, somewhat marginal or cosmetic secretariats of women were created. Kabeer discussed how Marxist feminists (e.g., Safa 1980) attributed oppression of women by men mostly as a consequence of capitalist oppression of both, and contrasted these findings to other scholars (e.g., Mies 1980) who attributed women’s oppression to men, especially white men, not as part of a class, but as male human beings in essentialist terms. The author considers that both approaches “present women as having no choice at all in the face of overarching structures of power” (1994:54). Indeed, according to Rakowsky (1995: 286-294), the reactions to the current economic changes promoted by capitalism cannot be categorized either by class or by gender alone. As economic exploitation and consequently men’s and children’s dependence on women increased, reactions from men varied immensely, ranging from greater valuation of women to greater violence toward women, and these were results of numerous interacting factors, varying according to social situations. In addition, as the collection edited by Mohanty, Russo and Torres (1991) shows, the choices by the so-called “Third World” women presented a diversity among themselves and a politics of their own to negotiate.


43 In the same way, the gender contradictions and disruptions that I observed in the Mearim valley were so fluidly mobile, with such a dynamic permeability, that I felt class and even the sharply defined binary man-woman categories, demanded further investigations. I indeed found help from the intellectual investments and the knowledge accumulated by Marxist feminists (Etienne, Leacock, Leach, Saffiotti) who provided questioning useful to organize an initial structural framework for working on gender relations. These are clearly both cause and consequence of merges and clashes among antagonistic social categories, intra and inter classes. However, the more idiographic my fieldwork became, the greater the levels of abstraction it demanded. Although my path of thinking could not dispense with intellectual instruments similar to those that made class and class relations such explanatory levers, I intended that they work rather as launching platforms than paradigmatic constraints. For example, Saffiotti (1977) saw in the intrafamily gender relations in so-called precapitalist societies, in which women’s labor was, although voluntarily and informally, extracted and alienated from them, the open door for the entrance of the capitalist relations. I indeed observed several situations in the Mearim valley in which women received unfair returns for their work, and registered histories telling how these processes were carried out through several generations. But I also observed situations in which these intragroup contradictions, rather than propitiating an automatic, free pass to capitalism, were integral parts of ways of life negotiated among their insiders on a daily basis. The continuous resilience of these ways of life, with all these internal contradictions, demonstrates that these social groups have specific forms of resistance and are not presomething, but, although articulated with capitalism, have an evolving


44 path of their own. Therefore, talking about gender demanded a finer compass to guide the understanding of the categories and relations, which compose the discursive practices swaying the fields of knowledge through which I need to walk. Coming from experiences lived at the grassroots, observing the contradictions and mobility of everyday decisions being negotiated between genders vis--vis those among families, sectors of villages, and classes, I decided to begin by organizing my data according to a Marxist orientation. However, I intended to maintain an open framework of investigation, in which incompatibilities and divergences were neither forced to fit into a class model nor erased if they did not fit. Rather, they should be identified and questioned for the importance of their presence. For example, as I observed women-only couples leading the most-poor households, I would not discount the experience because they were only two couples out of sixty in the village. Rather, they became thresholds to understand the dynamics of contradictions and ruptures of gender norms that make a village a unit. In another example, I would not attribute false consciousness to those engaged in interclass alliances or dependencies, because little-known relations (e.g., compadrios, resource trading, and especially gender relations) adding to relations of production may be at play. In different scales, several attempts to solve these unknown relations have been made. In the field of knowledge driven by development, for example, the UN has established the Human Development Indices (HDI), which intends to more accurately measure well-being than the conventional GDP and GNP. Improvements to incorporate gender-equity-sensitive indices (GESI) were proposed to the UN as a way to account for diversity (Anand and Sen 1996). However, we need to be aware that statistical indices on


45 national data sets, which guide policies driving the agencies of development, cannot capture thoroughly the nuances in gender inequalities. For example, unlike cases in Africa, where girls have lower schooling, or in India, where girls and women have higher mortality rates, Brazil’s basic data show the opposite. Do these data indicate that Brazilian women, especially in the North and Northeast deserve less attention than others labeled as Third World women, or that men should be automatically prioritized as the object of development policies instead? During a discussion with women in the Mearim valley, I talked about the data shown in the table below, to foment our debate on gender inequalities. Women were surprised with these data, as if accepting that women in their region have better literacy, schooling, and life expectancy rates than men’s, would damage the discourses sustaining their movement. My intention was to further discuss these important data, but placing them in the realm of the complex social relations that produce them. Table 1-1. Basic indicators for Brazil, north and northeast region Illiteracy rate for people 15 years old and up (1) Schooling rate for children 7 to 14 years old (1) Life expectancy at birth (2) Infantile mortality rate/ thousand (3) Infantile mortality rate for 5 year-old and below/ thousand (4) Men Women Men Women Men Women Men Women Men Women Brazil 13.3 13.3 95.3 96.1 64.6 72.3 39.4 30.0 65.5 56.0 North 11.7 11.5 95.3 95.7 65.3 71.4 37.8 27.3 Northeast 28.7 24.6 93.2 95.0 62.4 68.5 58.9 46.3 105.7 86.1 Source: (1) PNAD 1999 [CD-ROM]. Microdata. Rio de Janeiro: IBGE, 2000. Data for illiteracy and schooling exclude the rural population of Rondnia, Acre, Amazonas, Roraima, Par and Amap. (2) Estimations for 1999 extracted from document IBGE/DPE/DEPIS "projection of population of Large Regions by sex and age 1991 2020.” (3) Source: IBGE/DPE/Departamento de Populao e Indicadores Sociais. Diviso de Estudos e Anlises da Dinmica Demogrfica. Projeto UNFPA/Brazil (BRA/98/P08). Sistema Integrado de Projees e Estimativas Populacionais e Indicadores Scio-Demogrficos. Estimations obtained by applying indirect demographic techniques for mortality on information on survival of born alive children provided by women and collected by PNAD 1996. Because of the technique applied, the results of these estimations refer to 1993/94 and not to 1996. (4) Same source as 3), but data refer to 1996. We concluded that models that take these indices, or their interpretations, as sole reasons for emphasizing attention to gender cannot respond to the gender inequalities that oppress women and men in the Mearim valley. Rather, we needed to ask ourselves, why,


46 in spite of these indices, local discourses either by men or by women elicited male dominance and disadvantages in being a woman? Why, although well aware of the Brazilian indices, agents of development keep a strong discourse on gender, focusing on women and development? The apparent convergence between the social movements and development agencies’ discourses seems to form a coherent logical discursive body. Why then are women (at the margins of the so-called social movements) so reluctant or indifferent to participate in the proposed endeavors to develop themselves, discontinuing the logic established by the convergent discourse? I believe that part of the answer is related to the ruptures and discontinuities discussed by Foucault. Walking My Path: the Ethnographic Dissertation Foucault suggests that to study certain discursive practices and the knowledge they form, one should examine related phenomena of rupture and discontinuity. As I identified certain discrepancies between the academic explanations about gender and my field observations, I decided to initiate my research looking at gender as discursive and non discursive (policies, programs, projects) practices. I began an examination of these practices by both international agencies of development and grassroots organizations involved with peasant movements in the Mearim valley. I traced them in both my literature review (including academic work and products emerged from operative grounds) and fieldwork. I found that while development agencies and NGOs and formal grassroots organizations have quite convergent discourses regarding gender and ways to operationalize it, a diversity of life trajectories has expressed discontinuities, interruptions, and even colliding discursive and non discursive practices. In Monte Alegre, for example, life trajectory narratives and the daily living of men and women expressed a form of social organization that breaks with either victimized women or


47 women empowered by extraneous agencies. Explanations for the myth of the male breadwinner (Safa 1995) and the myth of the housewife (Fortmann and Rocheleau 1985, Thomas-Slayter and Rocheleau 1995) gain new perspectives from those matrifocal households. I had looked for support in the historic approach, trying to identify the historical events and periods, and the social structures and conjunctures, through genealogies and historical archives, to explain the observed gender relations, but the fluidity and the contradictory character of the relations did not allow a direct cause-effect explanation, suggesting rather discontinuities. Foucault questions conventional procedures of organizing data in periods and hierarchies, which systematize observations into structurally organized units, composing continuities preestablished by disciplines such as history, economy, and sociology. He argues against the reduction of all phenomena and all diversity within societies to one single “face” that fits the logic of certain continuous sequences of periods and structures in history. He calls this total history, and argues for a general history, which would account for all the different and discontinuous trajectories lived by diverse social groups (Foucault 1972:9-10). I am ethnographically studying a peasantry whose very origin emerges from the disruption of cultural processes previously carried out by diverse indigenous and African societies. Therefore, I agree that ancient, modern or contemporary history as conventionally taught in the Western mode, and the documents available to me by the writers of this history, should not be sources of automatic and direct reading in understanding the emic perspective of the subjects. According to Foucault, “history is one way in which a society recognizes and develops a mass of documentations with which it


48 is inextricably linked” (1972:7). If this is true, people who are excluded as subjects of a society are also inextricably absent, as subjects, from the documents that form the history of this society. In addition, the subjects I want to study not only have histories diverse from a total history, but also are diverse among themselves. I believe that an African enslaved man and a detribalized Kanela woman, even working on the same cotton farm by the end of the 19 th century, might have perceived and lived “the” history of the economic transitions from colony to empire to republic very differently. A coherent, continuous and total history is only possible when one assumes an artificially collective, conscious, and all-encompassing subject named humanity. This erases the diversity of conflicting livelihoods, considering certain unfit members of societies either as objects or as represented “subjects” with a consciousness that is not their own, but transplanted from the authorities telling the total history. I exemplify my reading of Foucault by taking the historical figure of Zumbi, the leader of the quilombo of Palmares, formed c. 1630, the large and long-lasting maroon group in Brazil, as an example. 20 The so-called multi-ethnic Brazilian society celebrates today a representation of Zumbi that fits in the currently accepted discourse of black consciousness. This historical analysis, however, while it transforms Zumbi, who was assassinated by the government in 1695, into a hero, intends to fit the disruptions he promoted into a historical continuum. It implies that as society advances and changes, 20 Although conventional and out-of-date legal instruments and definitions of quilombos state that they are the remnant descendants of the runway slaves residing the archaeological sites where their ancestors formed outlaw communities prior to the abolition of slavery, “they are neither residual and archaeological remnants nor isolated groups of an extremely homogeneous population, and were not always constituted from insurrectional or rebel movements. They


49 progress takes care of injustices that happen along the way. This analysis belongs to a system of thought that consistently attempts coherency and continuity, so that it can control and handle present disruptions. The authors and readers of this history view themselves as a total subject possessing a single conscience. This hegemonic consciousness can celebrate Zumbi today because it has granted abolition, decriminalized his rebellion, and now hopes for the integration of the blacks in its societal body, so that the history of this subject can continue. Nonetheless, we cannot tolerate a current rebellion by black delinquents at FEBEM (Brazilian institution who supposedly would care for the so-called delinquent minors), because this is what disrupts the continuity of our history today, and this is what our consciousness criminalizes in the present. “Making historical analysis the discourse of the continuous and making human consciousness the original subject of all historical development and all action are the two sides of the same system of thought” (Foucault 1972:12). I realized then that it was not the visible fact that I was non black, an outsider, Western educated, etc., by itself that was preventing me from understanding the subjects of my research. Rather, it was that my research perspective was embedded in this system of thought. I learned that I had chosen Monte Alegre as a research subject because warrior black women, defending their land and palms, were exactly what I wanted to fit in my own discourse of gender and sustainability. However, when they did not fit in the projects with which I expected to help them, well intentionally aimed at environmental sustainability and gender fairness, I could only conclude that they were not prepared or consist of groups that developed resistance practices in the maintenance and reproduction of their characteristic ways of life in a determined place” (Fundao Palmares 2000:14, 66-70).


50 organized yet. The explanation was that there was a lack of the right consciousness and empowerment, so they could not yet participate in “my” totalizing history. According to Foucault, instead of hiding these thoughts, munching them in my private accounts, I should rather research them, and should question: first, why certain observations do not fit in these continuities, and second, why one is compelled to fit otherwise disruptive observations into these acceptable continuities. To identify both the continuities and the disruptions, I searched for the loci where trajectories diverged from dominant discourses on gender. I examined local forms of living gender relations that seemed points of dispersion from that body of knowledge accumulated in conferences and fora driven by international agencies of development, and the establishment of non discursive practices such as polices and programs throughout related decades. Although I certainly have registered discourses and practices reverberating those prescribed in the reports and conferences of the World Bank and UN, this uniformity was heard mostly in the public face of recognized social movements. Ethnographic fieldwork at the margins of contexts circulated by grassroots organizations, NGOs, and agencies of development assured the register of a multiplicity of views and expressions of gender as phenomena of disruption. For example, the widespread “gender analysis” training, proposed by the “Harvard team” of the WID sector in the World Bank, in the 1980s, to train its own and other international agencies’ staff (such as USAID, IDRC, and UNDP), examines access to and control of resources assigned to men and women’s roles. 21 Although this approach is suggested only as a framework to gather and organize data into a gender perspective,


51 leaving the analysis and conclusion to the researcher and participants (Overholt et al. 1984), it does set a specific social visibility. Carrying out ethnographic fieldwork, I was unable to thoroughly approach the complex gender-based struggles observed in the field with this instrumental, without getting blind spots and bumping into “invisible” actors and relations. The diversities and complexities of access and control expressed in the life trajectories lived by both women and men, and the fluid hierarchies of negotiations among the several social categories involved, demanded a more dynamic, relational, and critical approach to these aspects. Besides, gender analysis as a process of knowledge acquisition was viewed as a “diagnostic tool.” Gender analysis training implied that the “disease” vector would be somewhere in the surroundings of the “sick” Third World woman, while the “doctor” herself was out of suspicion, or somehow impersonalized in the First World. One of the reasons for these limitations is the epistemology of this process of knowledge acquisition, which implies an instrumentality specifically adequate to a certain field of knowledge, that related to the goals of the development agencies: intervention for poverty alleviation and sustainable growth in a cost-effective way, through the introduction of women in a predefined process of development. Within this field of knowledge, although gender has a quite inclusive definition, the diversity and complexity of gender relations end up being played down by the urges of the rhythms, play of forces and motivations of development, which is the ultimate goal of the institutions sustaining this field of knowledge. 21 The NGOs supporting ASSEMA, such as OXFAM and Christian Aid, were more related to “Gender Planning” training. See this approach led by Moser in Gender Planning and Development (1993).


52 Foucault suggests that to examine issues in such a preponderant field of knowledge requires those epistemological acts and thresholds described by Bachelard, “which suspend the continuous accumulation of knowledge, interrupt its slow development, and force it to enter a new time, cut it off from its empirical origin and its original motivations” (1972:4). I needed therefore to put the knowledge prescribed by the World Bank and similar agencies on hold, to suspend my intention to “save” the women and to open myself to experiences of local knowledge. This was necessary because the discursive practice toward gender was drawing “all phenomena around a single center – a principle, a meaning, a spirit, a world-view, an overall shape” (Foucault 1972:10): development. One should then look for the “dispersion of points of choice” (1972:37), identifying where the dispersion of trajectories is detected. My intention became, therefore, to search for disruptive life trajectories composing a general history of gender in the Mearim valley, organizing my own view of the dispersion and discontinuities of the diverse experiences on gender relations. Therefore, instead of embracing a paradigm and a single theoretical framework, I keep in mind the insights provided by the accumulation of knowledge and research efforts, which will support my ethnographic endeavor in answering the following questions. Research Questions and Design In this mode of research, I try to answer the questions below throughout this dissertation. What forms of gender and other social relations are made invisible (by the various actors)? How are gender and other social relations transformed in times of conflict, struggle, and political resistance?


53 How do multiple forms of gender relations combine and evolve in specific trajectories of village formation and struggle? Specific theoretical discussions on these research questions will be carried out throughout related chapters, which were based on the following general research design. My field research was formally carried out in eight months divided in 2 three-month periods in the summers of 1999 and 2000, and 2 months in the winter of 2001. Aiming to control for some of the environmental variables, I designed the process of data collection within known ecosystems. As indicated in Figure 1-2, I selected 9 municipalities scattered throughout the Cocais ecological region (MIC/STI 1982). Monte Alegre, a village in the municipality of So Luiz Gonzaga, formed mostly by the descendents of slaves of a decadent cotton farm of the end of the 19 th century, hereafter called terra de preto, 22 land of the blacks, was elected as the primary site of my ethnographic research. In addition to Monte Alegre, I chose two other terras de preto (Olho d’Agua dos Grilos and Santo Antnio dos Sardinhas,) and six other villages (Ludovico, Pau Santo, Coroat, Bom Princpio, So Jos dos Mouras, and Veloso) to collect qualitative and quantitative data. Combinations of blacks and Northeastern migrants comprise these six villages, usually called centros, centers. Both at the survey stage and to test against some of the concepts I had developed after the first stage, I went to six other villages (P de Pequi, Angical, So Loureno, Vila Dola, Pacas and Stio Novo) in which the conditions regarding agrarian and social organization differed from the villages I had elected as focus sites. In the last two mentioned villages, I applied a short qualitative survey to 22 According to Almeida (1989), terras de preto are those lands which were donated, bought or acquired by former slave families, with or without a legal document. There are some cases in which the state conceded land for these families as compensation for services in warfare. The author highlights as a main characteristic of these social formations the use of the land (1989:174).


54 Figure 1-2. Map of the Regio do Cocais in the state of Maranho, indicating the municipalities in which research sites were located. Source MIC/STI 1982 check on some variables. These six villages were totally unknown to me and, are perceived to be outside the social movements. Finally I visited two fazendas 23 and two 23 Fazendas are social and economic units aimed at livestock or agricultural production within an estate privately owned by individuals, families or entrepreneurs, named fazendeiros. In the Mearim valley, these units usually hold more than one mode of production, having a capitalist


55 urban neighborhoods in the municipalities of Cod and Olho d’gua das Cunhs, where people were practicing variations of the same mode of production.My intention was to contrast social situations observed in diverse settings to better refine my view on gender relations. Qualitative data were systematically obtained from 48 men and 52 women through ethnographic interviews conducted by myself. Quantitative data regarding demographic and economic variables were collected through 800 structured questionnaires applied to 434 interviewees, in consecutive years, with the help of locally hired assistants, high school-level youths in their 20s, trained by myself. I also carried out a process of shared interviewing, as Roberto and I assumed that a man interviewing men and women would obtain different results than a woman interviewer and vice-versa. Quotes from his interviews will be indicated in the text. One data set essential to my work is my collection of life histories and diaries by the subjects themselves. Throughout the years in the Mearim valley, here and there I met opportunities to ask literate people willing to write about their experiences and share the originals with me. Although these opportunities were rare, given the level of illiteracy and time constraints of many key interviewees, these treasures were explosions of life hidden in tortuous, suffered calligraphies. These monographs, partly directed to me, but partly written as a diary, provided me another perspective from that of the recorded and transcribed interviews, which although open-ended were nonetheless a dialogue subject to different forms of interference. Another experimental method of data collection was base, but often comprehending other types of economic relations. Variations are due mostly to the political arrangements providing for its origin and maintenance throughout time. Usually with few employees, its main activity has been extensive cattle ranching, through labor extraction from residing landless families.


56 recorded interviews carried out by grandchildren with their grandparents, and by daughters with their mothers. In one way or another, the emphasis was to understand the content by examining the relations involved to obtain it, in addition to the information itself. In addition to fieldwork in the villages, I also invested in archival research for historical data in the Benedito Leite Public Library, Public Archive of the State of the Maranho, Academia Maranhense de Letras, used bookstores, and local parochial archives. Contemporary archival data were obtained at INCRA – National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform, ITERMA – Land Institute of the State of Maranho, NGOs, Bank of the State of Maranho, and my own files from my former job as practitioner. Research Methodology My concerns with transparency of representation and immediacy of experience, as prescribed by premodern ethnography, did not aim at positivist and objectivist goals of finding the truth. Instead, for the specific, selected issues, to which I thought my research would benefit from objective information involving material conditions, I applied a structured questionnaire following basic statistical procedures. From modern ethnography, I took advantage of techniques of participant observation, experimental and visual methods, and ethnographic interviewing. From the crisis that followed modern ethnography, I took lessons from critiques of its practices (e.g. frozen and fragmented representations) and results (e.g, collusion to colonialism). Current ethnography, interpretative, postmodern, and feminist contributions helped me to adapt different approaches to find my own (See Denzin 1994 and 1997).


57 Insights from Marcus, Clifford, Fischer, and Foucault led me to recognize the inseparability of the author’s subjectivity and the representation of Other’s realities. Therefore, the life trajectories I discuss in this dissertation do not intend to be historical truths about the subjects, but are accounts of what and how I heard and selected parts, and presented them in ways that made sense to me and to the reader at whom I am aiming at. According to Marcus and Fischer, ethnography is determined by its context, rhetoric, institutions, generalization, political standing, and history, so I need to recognize the partial nature of my accounts. The validity of the trajectories I am presenting does not come from an assumed immediacy of “being there,” but by how I specify who speaks, who writes, when, where, with or to whom/ under what institutional or historical constraints (Foucault 1972). The life trajectories studied here are not representations of cultural types, but allegories spelled out by gendered subjects (Clifford and Marcus 1986:19) to a gendered researcher. The narratives and life trajectories are not direct representations or synthesis, but allegorical instruments “to tell a story” about ways of life (Clifford 1986:98-100), and from this story, the reader and the author may extract theoretical and practical findings of this dissertation. As a research strategy to better tell this story, I describe aspects of my life experiences in the Mearim valley to set the context of my research. This “form of self-narrative that places the Self within a social context” (Reed-Danahay 1997:9), intends to identify the blind spots of my perspective, and aim for a more inclusive and self-critical ethnography. I rely on a more reflexive, blended narrative method, to produce a self-ethnographic text (Hayano 1979), including narratives about myself as a familiar


58 “window on the objective facts of historical and ethnographic events” (Peacock and Holland 1993, cited in Brettel 1997:225). Chapter Organization Through this ethnography, I intend to analyze ways of life in the Mearim valley, where gender relations cannot be dissociated from trabalho sem patro, both a material and symbolic set of social relations performed ideally in a land free of landlords, through practices of common use of land and forest resources. The next three chapters of this dissertation refer to life trajectories examined through narratives contextualized in a municipality, a village, and a family. The theme linking these first three chapters is the visibility attributed to specific social actors, related to gender issues, in different social situations. In Chapter 2, I present the little known life trajectory of Maria Pretinho, a former slave head of household, whose life trajectory was made invisible by the cumulative twists in historical accounts constructing the municipality of Lago do Junco, a place she and her sons had founded in 1925. As the Franciscans friars working there had chosen Lago do Junco as our first residence, I describe our entrance to the field as an ethnographic strategy to delimit the object of research and visualize selected aspects of the research. I selected the context of Lago do Junco as a municipality for this analysis because its formation involves the social, political and economic aspects that answer my first research question: What forms of gender and other social relations are made invisible (by the various actors)? In Chapter 3, I present the trajectory of dona Valeriana Parga in the formation of Monte Alegre, a single village in the municipality of So Lus Gonzaga, to introduce the view of a field marked by a diversity of life trajectories. A narrative by her descendants


59 illustrates how the village was formed throughout times of captivity, trabalho livre, and struggle for their land. My choice of Monte Alegre is because of its strong illustration of how the visibility won through their struggle over land was appropriated by developmental matters of the state. Analyzing their allegorical representation, I attempt to answer the second research question: How are gender and other social relations transformed in times of conflict, struggle, and political resistance? In Chapter 4, idiographically deepening my analysis, through the trajectory of dona Vitalina Andrade, I examine gender relations within a single family, the Andrades. Looking at genealogies and few historical documents, I carry out a kinship and marriage study as a point of departure to understand gender relations at the family level. Rather than searching for organic functions engendering structural cohesion, I identify the contradictions and dispersion in the dynamic process through which families build a village. However, to answer the third research question: How do multiple forms of gender relations combine and evolve in specific trajectories of village formation and struggle? I needed to expand my analysis. I contrasted two other families with the Andrade family: the masters’ Parga family and the Sakiaras, 24 a family of Japanese peasants who came to substitute for the slave labor. Having discussed gender as a social relation in several contexts and under different angles of visibility, I expect to have fine-tuned my understanding of the diverse discourses and practices from the different actors in their dynamic positioning. I believe my analytical instrumental is sharpened to detect attempts to totalize and control, and detect the nuances of interaction of the symbols with their material expression. With this awareness gained, in Chapter 5, I draw some interpretations on quantitative and


60 qualitative data collected in seven other villages in the Mearim valley, in addition to Monte Alegre. The results of statistical manipulation, which I interpret and discuss in the light of Chayanov’s theory of the peasant economy, refer to villages with relative access to land and forest resources. My intention is to identify the diversities and specificities of the Mearim valley peasant economy through quantitative data. Situating gender throughout four stages in a life cycle, I analyze some of the differences between the people of the Mearim valley and either the Chayanovian peasant or the capitalist farmer. In Chapter 6, I pass through villages where I had never been, where forms of resistances are not recognized as social movements, to check on the concepts and ideas learned from my main sites. To answer my three research questions, I carry out a theoretical discussion on gender relations in the political economy of the Mearim valley. I begin by exploring statements on the demise of the peasantry as a form to minimize the disruptive character of trabalho sem patro and engulf the peasantry in the monolithic and shared road of development of capitalism. I carry on the Marxist insights on disruption presented by class antagonisms, to other forms of discontinuities presented by ethnicity in the dispersion of ways of life. In this chapter, I bring together insights gained from the multiple trajectories and situations studied, to discuss the clashes and convergences of the material and symbolic conditions delineating ways of life centered on trabalho sem patro, a form of labor from which gender relations cannot be dissociated. As I conclude, I expect to have presented a fair story about the how multiple forms of gender relations are combined, and often reversed and overturned during conflicts and struggles. And I hope I have embraced my 24 It reads Sakihara, but as many Japanese names, it was changed by notary offices in Brazil.


61 reader with the view of this multi-faceted general history that has been denied and made invisible by the total history of global and national society.


CHAPTER 2 MARIA PRETINHO MADE INVISIBLE: SOCIAL BLINDNESS IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER IN LAGO DO JUNCO, A MUNICIPALITY IN THE MEARIM VALLEY Introduction: the Trajectory of Maria Pretinho Made Invisible In the Chapter 1, I presented my research setting and its components: the researched, the researcher, the research site and questions. I also introduced the fields of knowledge through which the research would be approached. I stated my decision to put dominant discourses of gender on hold, and open myself to new knowledge. In this chapter, therefore, as I describe my entrance to the field for the first time, my objective is to get rid of any preestablished frames that imply assumed knowledge, and may disturb the ethnographic explorations of unknown territories. My intention is to reverse what that little boy did when he screamed that the emperor had no clothes. In that story, the different actors, afraid of unveiling ignorance in front of authority, ended up “seeing” what was invisible. In this chapter, we will work on the reasons why the different social actors in the Mearim valley were making invisible what was otherwise visible. My argument is that, for fear of contradicting well established discourses on gender, and becoming unfit for goals of development (e.g., project funding), liberation (e.g., church support), knowledge (e.g., scholarly approval), or a social movement (e.g., activists approval), we end up blind to a multitude of trajectories and relations that otherwise would be visible. I believe that the safety of preestablished analytical frameworks, based on wellaccepted discourses on gender, prevents us from understanding the multiple forms of 62


63 gender relations that are made invisible by our cultural blindness. In the moment I spelled out the word “gender,” it seemed that everybody already knew exactly what my research was about. Either at UF or at ASSEMA, the word “gender” recalled discourses related to “women in development” or “gender and development.” It seemed that these uniform discourses of gender that currently permeate the academy, agencies and grassroots organizations had already synthesized all that was to be understood, and we were ready to apply such syntheses in the field. However, all these syntheses that are accepted without question, must remain in suspense. They must not be rejected definitively of course, but the tranquility with which they are accepted must be disturbed; we must show that they do not come about of themselves, but are always the result of a construction the rules of which must be known, and the justifications of which must be scrutinized: we must define in what conditions and in view of which analyses certain of them are legitimate; and we must indicate which of them can never be accepted in any circumstances (Foucault 1972:26). One way to break with the notion of gender as a well-known and reductive synthesis is to identify “the dispersion of the points of choice” (Foucault 1972:37). The dispersion of points of choice should be studied by looking at the intersection between cultural norms defined by a people’s ethnicity and the agency of its members in living these norms. By identifying loci of diversity of trajectories, and the points in which social actors make different choices and take divergent directions, which do not fit into the continuous total history, I can start to collect and examine discontinuous trajectories that build the general history of gender in the Mearim valley. To achieve my intent, I started by examining gender relations in the Mearim valley through the few available accounts of the life trajectory of the former slave Maria Pretinho and her sons. Although the Pretinho family was the founder of Lago do Junco in 1925, and although it was the first municipality we were introduced to in the Mearim


64 valley in 1986, her trajectory was absolutely unknown to us until 2001. In his last fieldwork, Roberto Porro obtained accounts of her life through an interview given by Dona Maria Jos Pinheiro, our next-door neighbor for 4 years, a descendant of the fazendeiros who have ruled Lago do Junco basically since the 1930s. The biographical details of Maria Pretinho’s life are practically lost, but it is exactly this unconcealed social invisibility that has a major explanatory power in the process of constructing gender relations in the Mearim valley. Rather than excavating traces left by her, or making guesses about her, I examine how someone like me, entering Lago do Junco, is led to a blindness to her history, and consequently, toward a diversity of explanations for the present realities. Therefore, what I am calling “the trajectory of Maria Pretinho” is not exactly that of a woman who lived and died in the beginning of the last century, but the representation of a multitude of trajectories hidden by local and official discourses. By examining the social blindness that makes “her” invisible, I intend to understand the current actors and context of this erasing process, and its effects on gender relations. I selected the municipality of Lago do Junco as a scenario for this inquiry on social invisibility, because it offers a good representation of the dialectical forces inducing a dispersion of forms of living gender relations in the Mearim valley. The narrative about Lago do Junco integrates effects of agrarian policies, systems of political representation, and pastoral actions on the social relations within and among its villages, and between them and other sectors of this municipality. I take as a point of departure the description of Lago do Junco as a biophysical, social, economic, and political environment, in which I begin to refine my questions about gender relations. Through the examination of the


65 official and the oral history of the town and the villages, I place my focus in their interconnections, to detect what is made invisible and what is not. Therefore, this is neither a geographical area study nor a historical examination of a period, but an ethnographic study of a theme, gender relations, contextualized in a time and place, carried out by an equally scrutinized observer. I organize this description using the methodological concept of social situation. As suggested by Gluckman, social situations “are events [the researcher] observes, and from them and their interrelationships in a particular society, he abstracts the social structure, relationships, institutions, etc. of that society. By them and by new situations, he must check the validity of his generalizations” (1958:2). Throughout the text, I position my own insertion in such a scenario to clarify how and why I am selecting specific windows through which I establish my points of observation of the object of research, as a means to avoid taking this specific view as the single, unifying reality of the Mearim Valley. Nevertheless, by working on this idiographic data systematized ethnographically, I expect to obtain reliable and valid concepts useful for situations beyond the valley and time period. Focusing on gender relations operating in the local system of production observed in the municipality of Lago do Junco, I begin to explore its connections to local, national and international processes leading governmental policies and Catholic actions in the Amazon. Such a step allows me to clarify my original conception of gender relations with which I, an agronomist and social practitioner intending to promote local development and conservation, at the service of the church, wished to liberate my fellow oppressed women. As a result, I can contrast such a preconceived notion and the observed relations that submerged the navet of my ignorance. From this contrast, by the end of the chapter,


66 I expect to present the social situations at the municipal level leading to dispersion of trajectories and potential changes in gender relations, and to spell out further questions for the next levels in which I intend to explore the meaning of gender in the Mearim Valley. In section II, I describe the town and the interior of Lago do Junco, setting the stage through which I was introduced to its geography, history and politics, while gathering related social situations for later analysis. I examine the relations within and between these two social environments and respective main agents: the town and the villages, the landlords and the peasants, and their respective allies. In section III, I describe a way of life emerging from these social relations, the joining of the church in defense of the land and liberation goals, and the system of political representation and governmental acts, as locally processed by the people. I finish the section by discussing the formation of social movements in Lago do Junco. In section IV, I conclude this chapter by identifying the relations still generating social invisibilities. The reasons why Maria Pretinho was made invisible help me to elicit the situations at the municipal level that induced a dispersion of trajectories, and delineate the first ideas toward a conceptualization of gender in the Mearim valley. Entering the Field for the First Time Arriving at the Town of Lago do Junco: No Signs of Maria Pretinho Getting a ride with the church to get on the road with the people Getting a ride from the Catholic church, we entered the Mearim Valley for the first time in March of 1986. A cheerful German agronomist working for Misereor, an agency of cooperation linked to the Catholic church in Germany, and collaborating with the Franciscan vice-province of Bacabal that had hired Roberto, picked us up at the capital


67 airport. He would take two German Catholic volunteers and us to the interior of Maranho in a four-wheel-drive Toyota, a vehicle known locally as “the priests’ car.” He and his wife, a nurse, had worked in Africa, and Northeastern Brazil would add to their experience in the so-called Third World. Leaving our non-Catholic, middle-class lives in So Paulo, we began to participate in a perceptual environment in which Maranho belonged to a whole block of underdeveloped countries, clearly mapped by governments, and national and international institutions, including the church, each one with its intervention agendas. The German agronomist and nurse formed the ideal pair to help to fix the impoverishing system of production, and heal the consequent “Third World” ailments. I think of being introduced by them in the job, as an honor. Notwithstanding, it was also a means to train Brazilians, the locals, to absorb this view and a missionary spirit, to be the carriers of the good news, be it a new system of cultivation, a way to treat diarrhea, or a Christian way to introduce a certain kind of development. Poverty was out there, and combating it was our mission, in the spirit of the Liberation Theology embraced by the Franciscans. At the theological level, since the 1960s, Latin American theologians were proposing “liberation in the oppressed and exploited land of Latin America,” and Gutierrez, in his analysis on development, would propose substituting it by liberation, as a better expression of the goal of life with dignity, and agency for one’s own destiny (Gutierrez 1988:14-17, 64). In Brazil, Friar Boff would say, regarding what had been proposed for the so-called Third World, “the development in question is obviously not the development of the nation as a people. Rather what is meant is development of


68 capitalist categories, a development whose sole subjects and beneficiaries are the elite minorities” (Boff 1989:196). At the practical level, however, by that time, it was not clear how liberation in the practice of improving production would be different from development, at least for most of the grassroots agronomist agents in the field such as us. Although many agents proposed adaptive or alternative technologies to achieve development in a more sustainable or politically correct way, only a few stopped to ask if and how people wanted such development, or even wondered what it was, after all. Regarding gender, liberation proposed participation of women as subjects, but at least in principle, so did discourses on “gender and development.” Inexperienced or plain ignorant, by the time we entered the field, we were just happy to know that we were not going to spend our lives dealing with pesticides or agricultural bulldozers to enrich Monsanto or Caterpillar, as much of our training as agronomists had directed us. Being on the proper side of the class struggle was already a good start, we thought. We were about to become agents of development and conservation in the poorest Brazilian state, 1 where social movements were alive and some secondary forests still stood. Very soon we began to realize that this was not enough, and what a long way we would have to go to figure out the meanings of development and conservation, later integrated in concepts related to “sustainable development.” Even though we were not Catholics, we had the opportunity to go through this learning cycle within a politicized grassroots movement, as since the 1970s, sectors of the Catholic 1 91% of all municipalities of the state of Maranho live in conditions that critically affect childhood mortality, 66% of rural households lack access to proper sanitation facilities, and 86% have inadequate access to safe water. 66% of total heads of households in the rural areas have less


69 church were the most relevant institutional channel bringing visibility to the social movements in the Amazon, and they had opted for getting on the road with the poor. 2 There were fazendeiros on this road Our destination, Lago do Junco, was a town between the Graja and Mearim rivers, the Mearim Valley, which averages annual temperatures ranging from 24 to 28C, and annual rainfall between 1,500 mm to 2,000 mm, mostly concentrated in the “winter” season running between December and May. The majestic parade of babau palms (Attalea speciosa, syn. Orbignya phalerata) on each side of the road, standing out in some pastures, contrasted with the flat carpet of jaragu grass, or the so called capim lageado (Hyperrhania rufa), that resulted from the complete elimination of the palms in some other fazendas. Both species adapted extraordinarily well in the soils of the ecological zone “Cocais,” such as the eutrophic red-yellow podzolic soil type encountered in the uplands of the Mearim valley. The alluvial soils in the bottomlands were also associated with the dense stands of babau palms (Anderson et al 1991:19), providing ideal conditions for rice cultivation by the peasants. Although the rains were not so good in that year’s irregular winter, the landscape still looked green and fresh. Joyful children, jumping in the igaraps 3 that crossed the roads, expressed the vibrancy of this season. This joy contrasted with the cruelty of the human built environment. Here and there, squeezed between the road and the fazendas’ barbed wire fences, there were than or equivalent to one minimum wage (U$120 in 1997) (IBGE/UNICEF 1991, cited in World Bank 1997). 2 See Schmink and Wood 1992:180-183; Adriance (1995); Hoonaert (1992); and Schmink (1992). 3 Igaraps are seasonally intermittent water streams, which allow fishing as an important activity integrated to the agricultural and extractive peasant calendar.


70 houses, sometimes lines of twenty to thirty taipa 4 houses on both sides. Fazendas had not only taken over every single piece of land with easy access along the roads, but had also advanced well into the interior. We learned that these houses were villages of people displaced from the interior by the fazendas, becoming what are called now povoados de beira de pista, roadside villages. There, men have become a source of cheap labor for clearing pastures and women extractors of babau kernels, husks, and charcoal, gathered from what was left of the forests: palms scattered throughout pastures. To respond to these economic and ecological crises, members of the church in the Mearim valley, like others throughout Latin America, dared to find their social role and place on these roads. The Franciscans in the Mearim valley expressed this commitment through several initiatives in social mobilization, and started ACESA, a project on education in health and agriculture, with its headquarters in Lago do Junco. The town of Lago do Junco had a different origin than these roadside villages, but was equally a place with multiple histories within its general history, involving post-slavery, immigration, and frontier settlement processes. Dona Maria Jos Pinheiro, 68 years old, daughter born to one of the main fazendeiros in the municipality considered to be its founder, tells her history of Lago do Junco: “My father arrived here in 1925; he had run away from Graja, 5 and came with uns Pretinhos, some Little Blacks, by the 4 Taipa houses are the usual mud-and-wattle type of houses framed by wood poles in each corner, with a double net of babau leaf stems tied with cip escada, a vine, structuring the walls, which are filled with mud. The roof is made of thin round branches placed in an orderly way, and covered with whole young babau leaves neatly tied to them with cip escada. Doors and windows are usually made of unprocessed wood or mats handcrafted with babau young leaves. 5 In the shaky period after the abolition of slavery and subsequent changes in the rural economy, followed by the fall of the empire and rise of an uncertain republic, violence spread throughout the so-called serto maranhense, and the town of Graja was one of the famous spots of agrarian conflict. Extended families divided between liberals and conservatives were struggling for local power, while former slaves were struggling for survival. Defeated rural leaders had their family


71 name of Abel Pretinho, Antonio Pretinho, and an old woman, Maria, who was their mother, and there were Ccero Pretinho, Jlio Pretinho, all brothers They came, slashing a trail, making their way with machetes, axes. Dad was 15 years old in 1925. The others (the black men) were already adult men.” According to her father, an Indian they met in the middle of the forest gave directions to a lake full of straw weeds, named thereafter Lago do Junco, Lake of the Straw Weed, on the banks of which the Pretinho family settled themselves, becoming the assituantes, 6 the first ones to arrive and found a settlement. The Pretinho’s settlement was made within the large municipality of So Lus Gonzaga, which was accessed to the capital So Lus through the Mearim river and had commercial connections with Caxias, then known as Aldeias Altas, where cotton production had been established since the second half of the 18 th century. However, having come from Graja, Maria Pretinho and the ones who followed her seem to belong to another movement. A southern town founded in 1811, Graja, earlier known as Porto da Chapada, was the result of a cattle ranching movement coming from Bahia, and passing through Pastos Bons, which in 1751 already had forty four fazendas. While some headed toward the west, in the direction of the Araguaia-Tocantins, others went up east to the Mearim, one of the humid valleys of Maranho (Velho 1972:24). More than 30 members sent away, and the humid valley of the Mearim river began to serve as a destination for them and for former slaves in search of the terra sem dono, the land without landlords. 6 Assituantes are the first people to arrive and settle in a place, the pioneers. They usually build the first shelters, and then houses, and plant the first roas, which are going to provide support to them and to the newcomers. These give them the right to organize the settlement according to culturally established meanings and norms. Assituar implies, therefore, not only to have the material resources to hold on to that land until the first harvests, but to have the power to articulate the social relations in which people will be engaged in that land.


72 years after abolition, to live on trabalho livre, black families were still moving in search of lands without landlords, often led by women. 7 In her narrative, the daughter of the accompanying white boy refers vaguely to Maria as a subject: “there was an old woman” or “the old woman.” Nonetheless, we can imply Maria’s leadership from the details of her actions in the process of founding Lago do Junco. Consistent to roles assumed by women in former slaves’ and their descendants’ families, Maria brought together the social and material means to establish a peasant settlement in a land free of landlords. She not only organized the means of material production, but also social reproduction, taking care of the sick, organizing parties, and leading religious matters. “They had parties at night, they danced, men with men.” As one of the men in the pioneer group died while trying to slash a large tree to plant roa, Maria Pretinho made a promise to God, and ordered the construction of a chapel and saint statues to protect the people. The wooden statues were ordered from a woodcrafter and displayed in the chapel, consistent with the unique Christianity that emerged in the Amazon, free from the dominance of priests and sacraments, but “very devotional, non-sacramental, but intensely devoted to the veneration of the saints” (Hoornaert 1992:401). This unique way to live religion was accompanied by unique ways to live gender. Women leading pioneers, commanding religious matters, and men dancing with men were very different from the discourse practiced by the most vocal contemporary residents of Lago do Junco. “Man does not dance with man, ever!” “Women take care of 7 There are no statistical data about the significance of the groups led by women in these movements, but in my qualitative interviews, they were not rare. In 2000, doing fieldwork in the westernmost state of Acre, I interviewed an old black woman whose grandmother, a midwife, led a group from the northeast up to the frontiers with Bolivia.


73 the church’s things, it is to keep everything very well organizedThe priest rules.” In Maria’s case, instead of the omnipresent patriarchal Latino husband (Boserup 1970, Nash and Safa 1980), in the role of the female head of household, we imply the absent father or, more probably, absent fathers, and in the role of religious leader, the absent priest. The official history smudges these disruptive histories. In the same way that the Indian and the Pretinho brothers’ achievements in finding the right place, establishing the first roas and structures in Lago do Junco were minimized, Maria’s trajectory turned into a folkloric amusement, or a not-valid history. The road replaced her trails; the house of a fazendeiro displaced her chapel; and the statues were stolen mysteriously. Not only in the official history, but in the very local accountings in the mouths of the haves and have-nots of Lago do Junco, the legacy of Maria Pretinho and her sons was made invisible. And as we joined the social movements in 1986, her history was not visible there either. It seems that very early in the narrative, other characters, relations and devotions took over the central roles and shares of the total history, economy, and politics of Lago do Junco. Although slavery had been formally abolished since 1888, rules were differently applied to the leading old black woman and the accompanying young white teen. Power differentials ruling the colony, and later the empire and republic, validated specific subjective perceptions of gender, ethnicity, and race. The subjective perceptions of the white male settlers were more valid than Maria Pretinho’s perceptions and practices, and constructed objective structures reproducing these differentials (Bourdieu 1999). These objective structures and hierarchies defined differentiated access to land and forest resources, to markets and public services, and above all, to political representation.


74 Specific definitions of gender, ethnicity and race became selecting factors in the historical formation of citizenship in Lago do Junco, and the Pretinho family was displaced from their symbolic roles as assituantes. These displacements also involved forms of gender relations considered disruptive. Other forms of gender relations took their place, while gender relations lived by Maria Pretinho became invisible for their noncompliant character. As the daughter of the white boy describes her own life: “The women here were housewives to take care of their houses, only having children, and raising them with the help of their husbands. But it was not for the women to work on servio grosseiro, rough work, no. I never worked, had a job My husband had condition.” Her husband decided and provided for everything. And this is the visible picture consistent with the totalizing discourse about the Latino women at all class levels, who had to bow to the patriarchal father in all matters outside the home (Nash and Safa 1980). Therefore, when we arrived in Lago do Junco 60 years later, the names of the patriarchs Joo Corra, Narcsio Rodrigues, Didi Arruda, Leo Leda, Juca Pinheiro, and coronel 8 Hosano Gomes Ferreira, the fazendeiros, were the ones introduced to us as the ruling past and present of Lago do Junco. And in the years I lived there, I had never heard, as I never asked, about Maria Pretinho, taking the official and popular accounts as the total history of Lago do Junco, and becoming myself another instrument of its reproduction. In the present, there were no black, let alone black women fazendeiras, and 8 Coronel was a title conceded by the provincial government in the hierarchy of the Guarda Nacional, created in 1831 by Diogo Feij, to designate the commander-in-chief of a municipality, usually the most powerful fazendeiro, merchant or, later, industrialist. By the end of the 19th century, with the extinction of the Guarda Nacional, the term remained during the republican regime to designate the political chiefs, who continued to rule locally as patriarchs. “The term


75 Indians were just a folkloric past. From the mists of Lago do Junco’s clashing histories, we can begin also to surmise clashing notions of gender. For the official history, the genealogy of municipalities (IBGE 1999. Genealogia dos Municpios. Unpublished document of IBGE/state of Maranho. So Lus: IBGE IBGE 1999a) explains the origin of Lago do Junco as a political division. So Lus, the first city in Maranho, was founded in 1612, giving origin to Itapecuru Mirim in 1817, which was disaggregated into several municipalities throughout the years. Among them, in the locality where the former fazenda Machado was established, which in 1844 was made into a Freguesia, 9 So Lus Gonzaga was declared a municipality in 1854. Lago do Junco, settled by the Pretinhos in 1925, was one of its localities, which turned into a municipality itself in 1961, in response to the demands of the heads of the most weighty extended families. Similarly, because of long years of disputes among these so-called political leaders, one of Lago do Junco’s rival villages, Lago dos Rodrigues, also became a municipality in 1994, taking 117.8 km and leaving Lago do Junco with its current 600 km (IBGE 1999a). Certainly I had already heard and read in school text books about coronelismo 10 and voto de cabresto, 11 coerced vote, but being raised in a social environment completely coronelismo penetrated the political-social evolution of our country, particularly in the party politics of the Brazilian municipalities” (Baslio de Magalhes, cited in Leal 1949:21) 9 Freguesias were circumscriptions defined by the Catholic Church, being groups of villages aggregated around a main church. 10 See Leal’s (1975) Coronelismo, Enxada e Voto and Hoefl’s (1985) Harnessing the Interior Vote: the Impact of Economic Change, Unbalanced Development and Authoritarianism on the Local Politics of Northeast Brazil. 11 Voto de cabresto is an allusion to a domesticated animal’s obedience, as cabresto means bit. Part of the violence between rival groups, this intense and broad engagement with local party politics can be also observed in electoral processes involving voto de cabresto: induced or forced vote by economic, psychological or physical coercion. In Brazil voting is mandatory. For example, Lago do Junco currently has 9,827 residents. Its 5,903 residents, 16 years old and up, registered as voters (60%) have demonstrated high electoral commitment in the last election, in


76 alienated from party politics, the intensity and personal nature of northeast conflicts over local political leadership still in the 1980s, seemed the ultimate demonstration that I was indeed in another social universe. The unique and violent local politics were based on the dominance of fazendeiros, sometimes also assuming the role of comerciantes, merchants, struggling among themselves, and controlling peasants living in their domains or dependent on their commerce. As initially land tenure was not an issue because of its abundance, power was often concentrated in the hands of these merchants (Velho 1972:41). “The richest man in Lago do Junco, [coronel Hosano] started with a little store, so small that his counter was made of babau stems, which my father helped him to make.” Later, the social roles of merchants and fazendeiros were linked also to that of doutor, someone graduated in Medicine or Law (Leal 1975:23, Nunes 2000:285-288). As the fazendas declined, the agrarian elite perpetuated their power through specific professions designated as appropriate to the leading sector. In our example, the fazendeiros coronel Hosano and Leo Leda both had sons educated as doctors in medicine. 12 Coincidently, at the time of our arrival, one of them, doctor Haroldo Leda, son of our next-door neighbor Leo Leda, 13 was fighting against the fazendeiros holding municipal power. Chiefs of extended families craving local leadership and their which 68% of them actually voted. Most of the invalidated attempted votes can be attributed to illiteracy. 12 According to Nunes’ (2000) study on Maranho: Medicine, Power, and Intellectual Production, between 1930 and 1996, there were four state governors graduated in Medicine and seven in Law, besides three vice-governors and six capital mayors who were doctors. 13 Leo Leda, brought to Lago do Junco by his aunt, Colonel Hosano’s wife, was himself related to Captain Leo Leda and Major Lus Leda, the caudilhos involved in violent conflicts between conservatives and liberals in Graja at the turn of the century. As opposition forces prevailed in the region, Captain Leo Leda moved to Alto Araguaia, while others headed up to the humid valley of Mearim. See Abranches (1993).


77 aggregates, the so-called polticos, politicians, were in the middle of a series of murders based on mutual revenge. People from both sides were being killed on a monthly basis. Even the mayor had suffered an ambush. She was the wife of a major fazendeiro, a political chief of the rival village Lago dos Rodrigues, whose wrongdoings impeded his own candidacy, but not the continuation of his political aspirations through her, until his assassination. Definitely not a mere puppet in his hands, she continued her own career, another situation that contradicts the stereotype of Latino woman. 14 So, we need to distinguish here what kind of social invisibility we are going to talk about. With a prosthetic to substitute for her half-shot face, she lived in the capital in this common situation known as absenteeism (Leal 1975:24), like most of the mayors in the region who could not stand the precarious conditions of their domains. In fact, in 1986, the year when it was finally and precariously connected to TV, Lago do Junco had about 700 houses: old decayed brick houses on the main and only paved street, and a majority of taipa houses on secondary dirt streets. There were also a decadent market, a rice mill, a post office, one kindergarten, a handful of schools, 15 an infirmary, a nightclub, and a dozen food stores. To complete the picture, there were a small protestant church, 16 and a Catholic church and parish house facing each other at the top of the hill, on the main street. 14 The best representation of this contradiction would be the re-elected governor of Maranho, Roseanna Sarney, who became the first woman to run for presidency, until her fall due to political wrongdoings. 15 In 2002, Lago do Junco had 2 pre-schools, 35 elementary and middle schools, and 2 high schools. There were no banks or hospitals. 16 See Dreher (1992) Histria dos Protestantes na Amaznia at 1980.


78 There was a church project on the top of the hill Exactly in the same spot where the Pretinho family had planted the first roa of Lago do Junco, Coronel Hosano Gomes Ferreira had built this oldest house in town, which German Franciscan friars later bought, using it as a novice-training center for some years until they decided to transfer it to a village. Then, this large three-wing house that sheltered the coronel’s extended family, aggregates and commerce, became our home for the 3 years in which Roberto was working for the Catholic church, with the other two wings occupied by a kindergarten and the project headquarters. Our neighbors in the single paved street were mostly local fazendeiros and their aggregates, since the poorest people displaced by land concentration lived in the secondary dirt streets, and along the sides of the state road. In a “hundred years of solitude” atmosphere, the house had its own charm with snakes, tarantulas and marsupials as occasional co-residents until we could settle ourselves thoroughly, responding to our expectations of what an Amazonian place should look like. However, we were not aware of what expectations each segment of Lago do Junco had of us. Like most local development agents, we were not even aware that the so-called “community” was not the imagined harmonious, homogeneous, and cohesive social body, but full of contradictions and a focus of dispersion itself. Only now do I wonder how the many descendants of the made-invisible Maria Pretinho might have perceived the sequence of colonels, priests and development agents in that house, dominating the landscape where their ancestors had pioneered a settlement. “The first roa they planted was right here, on the top of this hill.” But at that time, with our perceptions soaked with the Amazonian imaginary, unaware of different perceptions, from the colonel’s house on


79 the top of the hill, and under the guidance of the church, we began our interactions with the people of Lago do Junco. The Franciscan brothers had founded their Custody in the municipality of Bacabal, the major city in the Mearim valley, in the beginning of the 1950s. 17 In 1968, they erected the Diocese of Bacabal, a far-reaching missionary field for the friars of the Province of Saxony (Germany), which became the Franciscan Vice-Province of the Assumption in 1992. The friars had such an influence that people used to refer to them as chronological markers, in that every event happened at, before, or after “the time of such and such friar.” According to a local account, even the destiny of Lago do Junco was determined by them, as people told me that long ago, someone was disturbing the mass, and the priest spit at the church’s gate and cursed the town. “This is why Lago do Junco never goes forward.” Of course, this account, common to many stagnated towns, was told to me by the discontented side of a divided town, which made up the majority of its “urban” society: 18 people who did approve of the church’s option for the poor, but not for the kind of poor who claimed rights to land. Consistent with the rise of CEB’s, the Eclesial Base Communities that were the practical expression of Liberation Theology, the late 1970s and 1980s were the peak of 17 The presence of the Franciscan friars in the Amazon dated from the beginning of the 17th century. In 1637, in the “Relao sobre as coisas pertencentes `a conservao e aumento do Estado do Maranho,” report concerning the conservation and expansion of the state of Maranho, the captain-mor Jcome R. de Noronha recommends that Franciscans should take care of the Indians, who were influenced by the Dutch, British, and French (Moreira Neto 1992). 18 According to the IBGE 2000 Census, there are 2,839 residents in the urban (28%) against 6,988 in the rural (72%) areas of Lago do Junco, Maranho being the only Brazilian state with a majority rural population.


80 the church’s actions against land concentration in the Mearim valley. 19 The Diocese of Bacabal directed by the German Franciscan friars had resources and political will to invest in a practice of Liberation Theology, which spread throughout the country at the time. This divided the Catholics who are the majority of Lago do Junco. Meanwhile, Protestants of Assembly of God and Christian Congregations literally followed the commandment to not challenge the authorities, and to “give to Caesar what was Caesar’s” (Dreher 1992:339). Being introduced to the people in the valley by the priests was a definite mark, both on our perceptions of people and on their perceptions of us. At a first glance, once one was said to work for the priest or to be with the priest, one’s position was defined either with the People of Struggle, also named “people of the interior,” or with the people against them, the “people of the town,” or more specifically donos de terra, land owners or donos de gado, cattle owners. 20 Of course, these political and geographical denominations were not clear divisions, since many people in the interior were against Agrarian Reform and vice versa. Besides, in a more accurate examination, people participated in so many social planes that these clear divisions made sense only under specific situations. Nonetheless, being categorized as “people of the church” implied 19 See Boff’s (1986) Church, Charisma and Power: Liberation Theology and the Institutional Church. For contrasting views of the movement, see Gutierrez 1973 A Theology of Liberation, and Novak 1990 Subverting the Churches. Forbes January 22, 1990, 94. 20 Examining the transcribed interviews, we can trace a single terminological structure to the terms fazenda de escravo and fazenda de gado, slave ranch and cattle ranch, and dono de gente and dono de gado, people’s owner and cattle’s owner. I interpreted the reference to this structure as an acknowledgement of a society that objectifies both cattle and slaves, and an indication that, although acknowledging and living under such rules, the notion of being an owner of land, was as absurd an idea as being the owner of people. During slavery, sectors of the Catholic church lived this structure as owners of land, cattle, and people. Carmelites and Mercedaries owned fazendas where there were “mais de cento e cincoenta escravos entre machos e femeas, o gado vacuum chega a perto de trinta mil cabeas e grande nmero do cavalar,” more than a hundred and fifty


81 many assumptions, including how I was supposed to live my gender and deal with a gendered world, and consequently, affected my experience and my reading of it. In my search for the meaning of gender relations at the municipal level, I took the town initially as a central observing point (because it was the center of the project), but soon I learned that the villages in the interior were not the margins of the town at all. Examining the system of production carried out in the villages, which were modeled in interaction with both the natural and social environments, and emerged from conflictive relations, I learned that the way of life lived by Maria Pretinho was not gone. Rather, that way of life based on trabalho sem patro as practiced in the villages, was the origin, the center, and foundation of Lago do Junco’s social and economic life. The invisibility was not hers, but emerged in the conflictive social relations that constitute Lago do Junco and affected my experience and my reading of it. The invisibility was in the relations informing the delineation of my research object. As Foucault had said, it was not in the object itself. Therefore, an ethnographic scrutiny on these conflictive relations offered us a fertile ground to expand our understanding of invisible trajectories forming Lago do Junco, and consequently hidden forms of gender relations. Proceeding Toward the Interior: the Margins that Were Centers A state of disconnected structures Friar Adolfo Themme, the local parish priest in 1986, was a key figure in the struggles for land in Lago do Junco. Venerated by some and ostracized by others, he used to carry out, like many priests of his order, his desobrigas, visits from village to village, baptizing, marrying, and preaching that land for those who work on it is part of God’s slaves among male and females; the cattle was around thirty thousand and a great number of horses (Moreira Neto 1992:233).


82 will. He accepted us with an open heart, and remains a spiritual figure to us until today. It took me years to fully realize it, but he taught me that the fact that my entrance and settlement in the field happened through the town of Lago do Junco, did not mean it was the center of Lago do Junco. Furtado (1964) also refutes this notion of marginality attributed to rural areas. It was interesting to note that the villages in the interior are locally called centros, centers, and the rest of the world, beira, margin. “Ns, o povo vai a prs beira, pr buscar a condio, que aqui no centro no t tendo. Mas o lugar mesmo aqui.” (We, the people, go outside to get some [means of living], because here in the center we don’t have them [at this time]. But our place is right here). As a matter of fact, this is not only a matter of how geography could be perceived and named differently, but as people live according to their perceptions, everyday practices are lived disconnected from supposedly accepted structures, in this case, an administrative hierarchy centering the urban. Through time, I would learn of other perceptions making structures disconnected from what people were living. Weeks after we had arrived in Lago do Junco, Friar Adolfo showed up to invite me to go to the village of So Manoel, 24 kilometers from town on a terribly bad dirt road. Adelino Barbosa, a former peasant who had become a fazendeiro, had given orders to tear down almost 40 taipa houses, by pulling each dwelling’s master pole with a tractor. Even the chapel was levelled. The intriguing fact was that Adelino was not an outsider capitalist entrepreneur, or from a family of fazendeiros, but he used to be “poor, that kind of poor that when he bought a kilo of meat, he did not have the means to pay for it on the same day. When the person who had sold the meat came to ask him for the money, he


83 had to run to the forest to break babau in order to pay for that kilo of meat. He did not have any means. Later he improved his life” (Caubi Jos de Lima, 50 years old, So Manoel, interviewed by Roberto Porro). Note here how the inversion of gender role (babau breaking, a woman’s task) was used to illustrate ultimate poverty. Interviewees told me that improvement in Adelino’s life came through “hard work,” but essentially through social relations resulting in formal acquisition of land. In 1959, the Land Law was directed to authorize and legalize the sale of land to juridical or physical persona politically or financially suitable to buy it. The law completely ignored the existence of peasants and indigenes as social groups already living on it, who could have benefited by a regularization of their actual possession. This and subsequent Land Laws responded to the relations among local coronis and other municipal political leaders and state and federal representatives. These laws affected the on-going formation of the peasantry and the construction of their ways of life through the agro-extractive system of production, in the villages and forests on the lands hitherto without landlords. By the beginning of the 1950s, the vice-mayor began to buy some direitos de posse, 21 and to survey greatly expanded areas around cheaply purchased domains. Throughout the villages, the memories of displacement are alive. “[In 1947], it was all devoluto; 22 we worked, lived, we did what we wanted, but by the 1960s, a sale of land began to those people who had resources; it was not for everybody” (Milton Monteiro, 57 21 Direito de posse, right of possession, is a right based on the lex utilis, which establishes that those who actually utilize certain resources, land in this case, have the right to possess it. Such philosophical understanding did not prevent antagonistic groups from expropriating long-term assituantes, by violent means or unfair purchases, expanding the alleged area, and claiming such rights of possession for themselves. 22 Terras devolutas were unclaimed lands, which were not counted in the private or public patrimony. Since the Federal Constitution of 1891, such lands belong to the States in which they are located, and are distinct from Federal lands (Shiraishi 1998:27).

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84 years old, Pau Santo, interviewed by Roberto Porro). “I came from Cear in 1958, and we bought a house here. My two children, Maria and Mundinho, were born in that little house. But after that, the people began to say that they were selling Maranho, in the time of Sarney. We left [for Graja] and later, we returned here” (Olindina Chagas, Pau Santo). “Then, the surveyors arrived to divide the land; there were those deals Then each one [of them] dominated his own piece of land. Those who were better-off in life began to dominate [land], and then by that time, the bank began to open space for them, and the little foolish ones were just [left out]” (Caubi Jos de Lima, 50 years old, So Manoel). Senhor Edmundo, from the village of So Loureno, illustrates the transition: 23 Noemi: At that time (1932-1952), did your father own land? Seu Edmundo: No, madam, it was liberta, free land, at that time. ‘Botava sua roa, tinha direito no aceiro da capoeira, at onde tivsse mato, tinha direito.’ One placed his roa, and had the right to the secondary growth across any of the sides of its firebreaks, up to where there were forests; one had the right. In So Loureno, there was a delegado and sub-delegados, 24 nominated by the mayor of So Lus Gonzaga, who assigned the rights in this matter In the government of Newton Bello, this business of selling land began, around 1960 Then people began to get disgusted too, they did not have conditions to buy a lugar de cho. 25 Sometimes, too, the houses were within the land bought by someone else, and then the new landlord told people to leave Among the weaker ones, some had a bit of money and bought the land, and others might have the means too, but they did not believe 23 So Loureno was a much larger and older village than Lago do Junco, by the time Maria Pretinho was settling it. Its villagers were proud of its pharmacies, cloth store, cotton processing plant, and infirmary. After 1955, the fall of the cotton economy and conflict between its leaders, resulting in several deaths, put an end to the years of prosperity of cotton farming. Later, So Loureno became a village within the municipality of Lago do Junco; most of its lands are taken by fazendas, and villagers state that they see themselves at the margins of the process achieved by the People of Struggle. “We do not have the land, and the mayor does not look after us. We do not have even electricity like the other villages, mas a gente vai tocando, but we keep going on.” 24 Delegados and sub-delegados were villagers appointed by the mayor, usually for their political relations, to administer village economic and social matters. Their de facto efficacy varied greatly from village to village. 25 “Lugar de cho” can be translated as a piece of earth or place to plant, and has its opposition in “lugar de morada,” a place to live or a place to build a house. The fact that landlords allowed people to have a place to live, but not a place to plant, means that, to a certain extent, they wanted to have people providing cheap labor, but not people planting roa, which would not allow the landlords to control labor thoroughly.

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85 [in these new policies, saying that] they were an illusion invented by the government to rip people off. But in the end, those who did not believe were the ones ripped off.” By the time surveyors began to show up measuring the land in Lago do Junco, Adelino and others demarcated the land individually for their own, while others in the village were not able to do so for lack of finances or political connections, or did not believe that land should have a single owner or have a price, so even when they had the means, they did not spend money or time to measure and legalize their tenure rights. I saw my grandfather prohibiting his sons to buy land. He said: “Who is going to buy land? Nobody is going to buy land, because whoever buys land, buys fights.” And he did not allow them to buy land, but others bought, signing documents. They expelled the others, espatifou todo mundo, blew off everybody. But he [grandfather] used to say: “No, terra de compra, 26 land to buy, exists only in [the states of] Cear and Piau. In Maranho, this is not supposed to exist.” But, they bought everything, a os morador antigo foi o jeito se arrancar, then, the old residents were forced to uproot themselves (seu Joo Vitrio, Ludovico). The practices based on the belief that “to buy land” meant “to buy fights” were related to specific social relations lived by people. That is why, in spite of the enforcement of the Land Laws, in the village of Ludovico, for example, uprooted people continued to live around the lands they had made socially meaningful through assituar. Peasant relations of production continued to exist, although disconnected from the new agrarian structure. These relations maintained their base on trabalho livre, in spite of the facts that rules of ownership and, consequently, the environment had changed. “At that time, land was free for everybody. Everybody was owner. Wherever one arrived, if one planted a roa, then in the next year, he could plant again across any of the four firebreaks, but in the other three sides, he would not impede others to plant. At that time, there were many types of trees: pau darco, maria preta, copaba, anhaba, massaranduba, jatob, urandica. There were many. But, today, there is only fazenda [meaning pastures] in that place” (seu Dozinho, Lago do Boi). 26 Terra de compra, land to buy, is opposed to terra de trabalho, land to work.

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86 While there were situations in which peasants embraced the imposed relations of production in these fazendas or urban towns, there were also social situations in which peasants were struggling against the effects of agrarian policies and changes in the environment, persisting with their mode of production. Here we identify a dispersion of trajectories, a disruption in the history of capitalism in the Mearim valley, which, in several examples, were lived collectively, constituting peasant villages in an overall capitalist agrarian state. The state gave to Adelino, hitherto a peasant, the legal right to those lands, and after a while he decided to expel the people from them. His order to destroy the village was given after conflicts over rights based on different codes: the Brazilian state agrarian laws and local systems of representation, and the peasants’ way of life. The structures were indeed there, existing in the law, in the authorities and subordinates’ heads, and enforced by the power they held. However, because people lived the dispersion of points of choice and rupture, they did not disappear, engulfed by the progressive and powerful continuity; rather their lives were carried on, disconnected from these structures. These are trajectories that do exist, and depart from the continuity established by the maintenance of the structure of class society. In this locus of dispersion of points of choice, how can we approach gender relations? The objective of Friar Adolfo’s invitation to visit So Manoel was to have outsiders circulating in the area, to show that the villagers were not alone. He invited especially women, because it symbolically implied a nonviolent reaction, since foremen and police were still guarding the place, and further violence could arise. Men of So Manoel were hidden in the forests, and women and children were sheltered in the neighboring villages, where we delivered some food and spent the night. Women who had just given birth had

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87 their resguardo, 40-day resting period, broken; the times regulating roa’s activities were interrupted; old and new, sick and sane, friends and not-so-friends, all had to fit into the crowded hosting houses. We were so afraid that even people who needed to urinate during the night did it on the earth floor, inside the house, which was a violation of the meaning of house and of social humans. Not only the physical frame, but also most social norms seemed temporally dismantled. However, the norm for this conflictive peak, that men should not be seen, while women could still stay, was still working. So, the next morning, only women re-entered the village to gather the pigs and chickens, who were oblivious to what was going on, wandering around the collapsed houses as usual. Piles of destroyed taipa houses marked the alignment where the street was. Gathering belongings here and there, searching through the dust and thatch left over from what had been their homes, the women moved in a stupor. All village life still seemed to be there, suspended in the air, paralyzed in the silence, but the collapsed physical framework did not allow further delusions. Besides, Adelino’s men were there to remind us. We did not dare to stare at Adelino’s foremen, who had occupied the school and were watching us, but we all knew that they would not do anything to us, because we were women. And because we incorporated the symbols representing women, it never crossed their or our minds that we would do anything either. Even when all the material and social conditions of village existence seemed to have imploded, some sort of gender relations lingered still. When the violence of the village’s physical destruction froze the social relations within it, and the antagonism reigned sovereign in the social relations between the village and its oppressors, women

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88 seemed still to be women and men seemed still to be men. These were not gender as defined by roles and access to resources, because the conventional roles and access were eliminated with the destruction of the village. However, the meaning of gender, as all those social relations internalized in each social actor as symbols and expressed in practices, remained, informing the meaning of being a woman or a man, as members of a social group (Bourdieu 1999). We have seen that people of So Manoel had passed through a locus of dispersion of points of choice. Their trajectories departed from the only available alternatives within the imposed structure: they did not become landlords; they did not become fazenda laborers, and they did not become urban proletarians. Rather, they proceeded with their own way of life, and did that as a village, a people, and this is what is anthropologically significant for my study. Therefore, if we want to understand their gender relations, we must better understand their agency in this state of nonstructural grounds that characterizes their trajectories. Considering them as a mere category, a marginal and amorphous “reserve army of labor force,” within the dominant structure, is to erase these ways of life. Studying their gender relations according to a preestablished frame for gender analysis would erase part of the discontinuity that constructed them. A state of nonstructured connections By that evening in So Manoel, the representative of FETAEMA, the Federation of Rural Unions of the State of Maranho, arrived with a lawyer, and we gathered together with the men by the bushes to discuss the next steps of the struggle. That day, Friar Adolfo delivered a mass there, and we left soon after. This would be just a description of a moment in a given step in that single agrarian conflict, as many others that followed in the months ahead. But experience ethnographically examined here allows us to approach

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89 a state of nonstructured grounds in which the trajectory of So Manoel was carried out, and in which gender relations can be understood. At a given moment, I was involved by the closeness of sharing the fear of gathering up chickens under the enemy’s nose, because we shared the fact that we were women. However, in the next moment, I was back home showering off the exhaustion of the trip, wondering what was for dinner. Although rationally knowing that I was just an extra in the middle of a group of outsider supporters, I was relieved to take my baby back to the safety of our own lives. Surely I was emotionally distressed by the events, and kept participating somehow in the evolving conflict years to follow, and my gender and class still counted. However, the available option of how to participate, suggested by this conflict was amazing and intriguing. Examining how the people of So Manuel and I participated in that conflict led me to understand that my gender was different from that of the women of So Manoel. I realized that the same rationale suggested by black feminists, in which being a black woman is different than just being a woman or just being black, since one’s identity is not dissociable, was applicable to the situation in So Manuel. One cannot separate So Manoel’s identity and woman’s identity. Gender in So Manuel was defined by the unique experience of “being a woman in So Manoel,” with all the social relations involved in it, and that had nothing to do with the fact that I and those women shared the same sex. So, as dominant discourses say, gender is indeed a social construction, but what really matters is that one has to know what social construction it is. It was possible to see a clear line between those men and women who lived hidden in the forests for the following months, or stayed exposed with their babies right there,

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90 and my play-safe Self. In a Marxist model, I would be considered part of the working class, a working piece in a relation of production, hired to improve the conditions of productive forces. This line of difference would be attributed to our different historical and materialist backgrounds, levels of education, access and control to resources, etc. but finally erased, as we would all be within the same class. Class relations would explain the antagonisms between villagers and dominant sectors. But, what would explain the difference among villagers, and between them and myself? Above the matter of class internal differentiation, above the matter of who has or has not experienced expropriation of means of production, this dividing line was mostly a matter of how and why they and I lived this experience differently. And it is this matter that helps me to delimitate the object of my research as a people, not as a class, not as an occupation, not as a religious group, and not as traditional populations, human resources instrumental for conservation of natural resources and development matters. Tracing this line of difference as an ethnic boundary, I was able to comprehend a distinct and coherent body of people embracing a way of life as a social group, not only as a socio-economic class. When women of So Manoel were prohibited to use the forests, they not only lost their access to resources, but were also affected in their gender, in the way they would relate to other women and men. The land and related forest resources at stake were not only a means of production that individuals would give up, and move to towns to sell wage labor instead. In that case, they would be equally working-class and perhaps have even better access to citizenship rights as proletarian laborers. As for women, earlier Marxist feminists predicted that by earning a wage they would be free from the

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91 patriarchal peasant head of household, and struggle shoulder-to-shoulder with the working-class men (Fee and Gonzlez 1977). If that were the case, it would not matter whether expropriation of surplus came through the exploitative price for the products of their trabalho livre, or through direct wage labor sold to a capitalist enterprise. However, besides the fact that women’s wages have been consistently lower than men’s, and that gender inequalities persisted within proletarian classes and families, the women and men in So Manoel were struggling for something else. The land and forest were taken not merely as a means of production to individual laborers, but essentially as a means to a whole way of life based on a mode of production through trabalho livre, which gives to men and women of So Manoel meaning for their social life. The way this freedom in organizing one’s labor is negotiated among men and women, elders and youth, compadres, relatives, and diverse social categories, also gives the meaning of being a woman and being a man, as integral members of a people. As Marx himself had said in his earlier works: “This mode of production must not be considered simply as the production of the physical existence of the individuals. Rather it is a definite form of activity of these individuals, a definite form of expressing their life, a definite mode of life on their part. As individuals express their life, so they are. What they are, therefore, coincides with their production, both with what they produce and with how they produce” (Marx and Engels 1970). A closer examination of social relations involved in the making of roas in Lago do Junco, in its context of social antagonisms, will offer a better explanation of a mode of life or what I am calling ways of life, and how gender relations are at work in it.

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92 Learning a Way of Life Men and Women in the Making of Roa The practices The municipality of Lago do Junco had 92 villages prior to 1994. These villages can be visualized as groupings of houses usually aligned along single or sometimes perpendicular dirt streets, sometimes around a small field, mostly surrounded by extended areas of capoeiras (secondary growth), pastures, and palm forests. Villagers make their living basically on slash and burn shifting cultivation and extractive activities, either on their own land or on landlords’ lands. Agricultural and extractive activities are integrated in the making of a roa. In this system of production, men direct agricultural activities in which men, women, and children have specific tasks in cultivating rice, beans, corn, cassava, and a variety of vegetables. 27 Women direct extractive activities in which women and children, and less often men, also have specific tasks in obtaining babau kernels, charcoal and other by-products. Roa is a complex concept, and an institution involving a physical place, a social and technological knowledge and practice, and above all, trabalho livre, an ideal of autonomy in labor control. Roa is the full expression of trabalho livre in the Mearim valley 28 . For the purposes of this section, I refer to roa as designating a physical and social place. It is a gap currently varying around 3.4 linhas (around 1 hectare) in the areas studied, where the forest is slashed and burned, seeds are planted and cultivated according to a detailed and dynamic knowledge of each particular gap, and its surrounding ecosystem. Stains in the soil, varied effects of each burning throughout the 27 From close to 400 interviewees, the most commonly planted vegetables in roa were: cux, squash, okra, cucumber, tomato, sweet potatoes and green beans.

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93 gap, shape and condition of the vegetative remains and re-growth, shade from the standing trees and palms, are all intrinsic parts of a roa. Affecting and being affected by these physical matters, specific social relations between and within families are associated to the practices and goals of a roa. Noemi: Why did you plant tomatoes right here, under this big trunk? Letcia: This part here was a part of a roa perdida 29 last year, which Carlos [her lover] left for me. I planted tomatoes underneath this trunk; I had seeds that Cleusa [a neighbor and a frequent companion for gathering and breaking babau in the forests] had given to me. The ashes were stuck here [underneath the trunk] and because it is big, it holds the night’s mist for longer. The plants have to surround the trunk, but give lots of tomatoes. He [the lover] comes and I give him tomatoes. I get them too. It is a lot to weed, but it will be worth it. The rice won’t be much, but I have okras, tomatoes, cux. In such a small area, Letcia manages social and environmental relations grounded in that place. She knows which days the wife of her lover will be at their nearby roa, and avoids crossing her on the trail. “One has to respect. There is no need to make her life worse.” She knows Carlos will give her and their two children some rice from his roa, where the wife puts in labor by cooking for workers. She knows the wife is going to eat some of her tomatoes. These wife-husband-lover-children-companion relations permeate relations of production, shaping the use of each little piece of a means of production, a shade in the gap, a stain in the soil, a tree that attracts game, the leftovers of a spiky bush. All the symbols involved in relations among them, and between them and nature were printed in the material and social results of that year’s roa, constructing gender relations through trabalho livre in their ways of life. 28 See also Stephen Gudeman’s (2001) The Anthropology of Economy for the economics of roa. 29 Roa perdida happens when an area is burned and even planted, but not treated. Usually it happens because the vegetation did not burn well, due to unexpected rain, in combination with an excess of weeds and a lack of labor. The area is left without further cultivation, completely abandoned, or just browsed for random bunches of rice.

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94 As the years passed, awakening time after time in my hammock sheltered by any of the several generous people who hosted me, I began to recognize this cumulative construction of a way of life, which restarted each morning with the sounds in the kitchen. Although many men, especially those who needed to care for animals, leave their hammocks earlier in the morning, women are usually the first ones to open the day, soothing the cold in the morning with the crackling of babau charcoal burning in the mud stove, and the smell of coffee. A piece of baked cassava, sweet potato or mostly just a handful of cassava flour completes the breakfast, although milk was sometimes available for children, and visitors. Lately, milk, wheat flour bread and crackers are increasingly introduced to the diet. Breakfast taken, teenage boys begin to arrange the cangalha, a wooden structure to hold the jacs, a pair of large strong baskets that hold two loads of babau fruits, on the back of the mules. 30 They go after the babau fruits dropped at the foot of each palm. Each area of pasture or capoeira is known by a name, and a communication network allows one to know where to go each day: the less explored places, the better loaded palms, the easier-to-pass trails and pastures. Teenage girls help with house chores and begin to prepare their machetes and cofos 31 to go to the forest, or they may stay at home babysitting their siblings, fetching water from the wells, and cooking while the mother 30 Mules are becoming so abundant in some villages that a female mule cost about $5 in August 2000. Some were suspicious that landlords were sending unwanted mules to places far from their lands. In the village of Coroat, there were so many mules that they were roaming freely in bands, and boys in need of their services just waited at the house’s door, to see if a band would pass, so to avail himself of one of them, as a village common resource. In small towns, the lack of accessible pasture is forcing the mules to become scavengers of trash bins in the marginal streets and roads. 31 Cofos are flexible and durable round baskets made of young babau leaves, used every day to carry babau kernels, rice, beans and working tools. Handcrafting these baskets, as well as mats, is mostly a male activity.

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95 goes to the forest to break babau. Usually, little children attend school in the morning and older ones in the afternoon. Elders’ work varies according to their health condition and especially to their access to social security. 32 Men’s work is distributed irregularly throughout the agricultural year, so they may leave for roa at dawn and return at sunset, or stay around the house for the whole day, socializing with neighbors, fixing tools, fishing, according to the period. This irregularity in intensity of labor allocation has led many quick visitors to point out an impressionistic gender difference in labor commitment, as women’s work runs continuously throughout the year. This is especially true because men’s continuous and intensive activities in the process of putting a roa together are concentrated in the rainy season months, when most project agents and short-term researchers avoid visits on the bad dirt roads. 33 Usually, women are in charge of organizing the house and children’s labor if they are going to work at home or in extractive activities, and men direct the children’s labor if they work for roa. Tasks assigned, women may leave for the forests to gather and break babau there, or sit around the backyard, by a pile of babau fruits brought by the teenage sons on mules, and stay there breaking them close by the house, while supervising household chores and toddlers. Cooking and taking food to often distant roas are also time and energy consuming tasks for women and children, especially 32 Social security is allowed to rural workers in the amount of U$ 63.2 (on June 2002), a minimum wage, for 55-year-old women and 60-year-old men. 33 See Chayanov 1986:74-77. In addition to examples of intensity of labor expenditure throughout the year, we can learn how ideologically influenced pre-notions drive our perceptions of gender issues and productive labor. Statisticians in Russia, in 1907, concluded that men spent much less hours/year awake (5,876) than women did (17,876), but had much less hours (3,670) remaining unused for productive labor than women had (14,376). We should not make the same mistake, just reversing these rough inferences.

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96 during the stages in which the male head of household calls other men to work on his roa, in a labor interaction named adjunto. 34 When women go to the forests, by themselves, or most frequently with their children or friends, they may return only around four or five in the afternoon, but usually after they get enough kernels to make up for a debt they had in mind to pay. “Today we already know what we have to buy with the money from babau that we are going to break tomorrow” (Ceia, Ludovico). In “I work according to my need,” need may mean the coffee or soap for the week, or a payment due for a chair they got through a popular system of informal credit run by local merchants. But need may also involve their working companions’ needs, since they usually take their time in socializing while waiting for them to finish. These aspects of their mode of production were taken as a waste of time or a demonstration of “indolence” and “promiscuity” as perceived by some authors on the economy of the babau (Conselho Nacional de Economia 1952:9, cited in Almeida 1995:22, Leal and Saint Cyr 1972:33). However, I learned through systematic and direct observation that this investment in building up ties by daily socializing is an essential component of a coherent process of economic production and the social construction of gender relations. They work as specific forms of labor control, not as a boss checking on time cards, but exerted by each other, according to the logic ruling trabalho livre. This logic involves the integration between babau breaking and roa. Figure 2-1 shows the relative integration of provision of income by these two main resources, as the 34 See Gudeman (1988:104-116) for a detailed description of variations of adjunto, troca de dia, and trabalho alugado in a Panamanian village.

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97 period of greater availability of babau kernels coincides with the inter harvest phase of rice cultivation. Dry and wet seasons, house and roa, babau and rice are all connected in the following description of labor allocation of a woman throughout a year: In the winter, I stay more at home, because it rains almost everyday. In this time, you must see my things, everything is so clean and shiny, and people can see themselves in my cans. But during harvest time, I go to cut rice. In May we harvest the arroz comum [a traditional variety of rice]. After that, the harvest of arroz lageado [an introduced variety] begins in June, and ends in JulyThen rice harvesting ends and beans start; when the beans end, then I stay a little at home, cleaning up things. When everything is clean, I go after babau. Because August is the babau time, it is the time the nuts fall. Then, I am in the babau, everyday, everyday. In December it starts to rain, but I still go [for the babau] in December, until February I still break babau. Then, when the mud is too great, everything is wet and the weed grows too high, I stay more at home, until it is time to cut rice again.” (dona Aparecida, 38 years old, Pacas) 050100150200250300350400jfmamjjasondmonth rainfall rice babacu Figure 2-1. Relative availability of rice and babau kernels throughout the agricultural year This integration of activities, however, cannot be attributed only to the biology of the species involved and to the geography in which these ecosystems are placed. Rather, the conjugation of these factors defined by nature is mediated by the interpretation and

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98 negotiations among villagers, according to their gender, throughout the year, and throughout their biological and social lives. The agricultural year starts in June, just after the rice of the previous roa is harvested and stored in tijup, a wooden shelter in the field. Men begin to walk around, talking to concerned people, choosing sites, and demarcating the perimeters of their new roas. In July or August, men and older sons begin the broque, to slash the trees and shrubs with machetes and scythe. Also, with the whole family, they begin to harvest corn and prepare the rice harvested from the previous year to be transported home. At this time, babau fruits formed during the rainy season begin to drop, gathering is easier and women begin to devote more time to extractivism. For the men, the next step, depending on the ecosystem chosen for that year’s roa, may be to carry out derriba, to cut down larger trees with axes. Otherwise, the following step would be the burning and coivara, gathering and organizing the unburned larger trunks and branches in rows, facilitating another burning. The babau harvest goes until February or March, coinciding with the rice interharvesting and dry periods. While men are engaged in the preparation of roa, women are mostly engaged in gathering and breaking babau fruits, as broque and derriba are stated as definitely not work for women, and only some work in coivara. Besides, these activities are not so pressured by time, and during this period men usually come home to get their meals, and may also help with gathering babau in between activities, as days and even weeks are necessary for the slashed vegetation to dry enough to coivara and burn. It is in these months that boys under 12 or 14 years old gather and bring home whole fruits of babau more frequently, as they are drier and lighter, and

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99 once kernels are extracted, charcoal is produced with the husks, in caieiras close by the house. During these years they experiment with labor under women’s command. As the raining season begins, planting rice, corn, beans and cassava takes place, in November or December, according to the first rains, and the soil, topography and vegetation of the place chosen. In January, some roas are already demanding weeding, which continues until February. March through May is the time of harvesting. Variations in temperature and humidity by combinations of occasional rains and days of sunshine define whether the rice grains are retained or are going to drop on the ground. Pressured by time, workers eat in the workplace, and cooking and taking food to roas are energy and time consuming tasks for women and children during these busier stages. 70% of women from 434 families interviewed spend from five up to thirty days cooking and/or taking food to roa, for their own family in addition to extra workers during this time. Several roas demand labor at overlapping times, and villagers need to coordinate, through troca de dias or trabalho alugado (labor exchange or rented labor), labor allocation through the sequences of more urgent roas, as a conjugation of type of soil, vegetation, plagues, topography, and starting date, defines which ones need to be cleaned or harvested first. However, once again, it is not the rains, temperature, soil or topography by themselves that define priorities, but how people perceive these natural demands, establish their position in the social network and negotiate their labor according to each one’s “own time” and connections. For example, families that have boys stocking babau fruits at home, bringing them on mules during the dry months, allowing their mothers and sisters to break the fruits at home during this rainy period, can in principle have a greater or more frequent number of

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100 “adjuntos,” as they can cook and break babau at home. It is important to remember that, for a significant number of families, rice and other staples from a previous roa can become scarce by the beginning of the winter, and they need to rely on babau income to feed the family and “adjuntos.” As we will see in Chapter 5, combinations of gender-assigned tasks will define the degree of drudgery the family goes through to achieve its goals. At any rate, my field observations lead me think that, to achieve these goals, the families share a notion of time in which each one owns his own time, and they negotiate it within the limits sets by “seasonal” time. The symbols By listening to the interviews taken during winter and summer, from men and women, young and old, in bad and good agricultural years, I begin to learn to recognize the symbols driving people’s lives, expressed in discourses and practices. For Turner, “symbol is the smallest unit of ritual which still retains the specific properties of ritual behavior; it is the ultimate unit of specific structure in a ritual context,” while ritual is the “prescribed formal behavior for occasions not given over to technological routine, having references to beliefs in mystical beings or powers” (1967:19). However, belief and mystical powers in his study were far from the antonym of real and effective. Rather, symbol and rituals were the actual devices running the Ndembu society. Rites of passage, for example, were not mere celebrations of biological changes in an individual, or sanctions of his/her own achievements in passing from one category to the next, but how a society effectively “makes” its members, fitting them into its structural model through ritual. Geertz (1973) and interpretative anthropologists saw symbols as the vehicles for meaning, instruments to explain and deal with people’s relations with the world. Culture

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101 was systems of symbols. In his later works, Geertz (2000b) put aside the system approach, and was looking at the power of symbols in everyday practices. Rather than looking at symbols as instruments to fit individuals into societies, and hold agencies into structures, symbols were seen as creative forms of intermediating relations and dynamically reproducing ways of life. The dynamics of practices lived in the intertwined trajectories forming the ways of life in the Mearim valley led me to adopt this approach. In this sense, roa can be interpreted as a symbolic allegory for family life, as it is related in practice with the start, the foundation and the maintenance of a new family. “Roa means many things in a couple’s life; roa does not provide for everything we need, but without roa we cannot get by, so I believe it means something in our marriages” (Cib, Centrinho do Acrsio). In a society where the person is seen above all as a member of his or her family and village, marrying and carrying out a roa signal the completion of one as a social person. “Everything starts when you marry, then you have your own things, you have your own roa.” It is when one is socially approved to organize the means of production and to take a directive part in a mode of production: a complete social being. “As soon as you enter your own house, to live together, the two, then, now it is the two, the roa is of the two, separated from the parents.” Roa is seen as a beginning, but it is also a transition, as many weddings have their dates set to coincide with the harvesting time, allowing the parents to support the new couple in their head start, giving orientation on a historical and materialist basis for a mode of living. Having come from social experiences of slavery, detribalization and migration, a reliance on kin and village allows people to avoid getting trapped in relations of subordination in the early stages of a family cycle. This reliance allows the

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102 construction of an ethic of autonomy against an antagonistic society and state, privileging oppressive landlords, and a strong vertical link ties generations together. As we will analyze in subsequent chapters, this verticality has a strong influence on how gender is locally defined. Roa, as the most significant expression of trabalho livre in the Mearim valley, is the main materialization of this ethic and inter generational link, and therefore, of gender relations. In essence, roa is the foundation, the sustenance, the center, the means and the end of a peasant’s family life, and roa is the symbol of the male domain. In the current symbolism, men are in charge of deciding where, when, with whom a roa is going to be planted, therefore, in charge of the relation of the family with the natural and social environment. The symbolism of the centrality of roa coinciding with the centrality of men in decision making over resources determines practices of male dominance and female subordination. Depending on the availability of labor, women may work during coivara, weeding, and harvesting time, seldom during planting, and very rarely slashing. A woman working in slashing is against the norm in a sense that it is viewed by men and women as a task overly heavy for a woman’s physical strength. It indicates an imbalance in female and male labor allocation within the nuclear family, which needs to be fixed by members of the extended family or village. When a female head of household owns a roa, it is still a male friend, in-law, a compadre or relative who will advise on decisions regarding where and when to slash and plant. Usually, female activities in roa are exerted under her husband’s direction, or in his absence, under her father, brother, brother-in-law or older son’s direction.

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103 Interviewees state that, as a cultural rule and as an idealized practice, men are in command of roa, which is the basic foundation for the whole family unit of production. The extractive activities are closely related to and, for those with access to land, subordinated to roa, as babau supports the costs of labor in roa until the harvest time arrives. On the other hand, in the same symbolism, women are in command of the house, which is the basis for the family as the unit of consumption and reproduction. In sum, in the family symbolic economy, there is a culturally defined gender hierarchy, organizing power over resources, and idealizing practices. In an ideal situation, roa is to provide for both consumption and cash crop products, as since its formation, this peasantry was connected to markets. Even during slavery and quilombos, there are registers of market transactions. 35 In the past, rice, beans, corn, and cassava flour were sold to buy industrial goods such as tools, clothes, salt, kerosene, etc. As the agrarian policies and production, consumption and labor market conditions changed, these products could barely provide for consumption needs and were gradually substituted by extractive products and labor as exchange goods and services. Today, babau kernels are sold to the several commercial posts spread out among the villages and towns to provide the cash necessary to buy everything but the main staples from roa. When there is no roa, people say they will passar baixo, go through a low period. In these low periods, symbolisms defining man and woman and their gender relations are challenged, and demand choices and changes. More than just 35 Prohibiting laws would not be needed if these transactions were not significant. The Law number182/1843 (article 24) stated: “All of those who intentionally negotiated with slaves, will pay a fee of ten thousand ris, and the double in the recurrence. If the deal happened in cattle ranching or agricultural fazendas, the fee will be of thirty thousand ris and the double in the recurrence.” The same article was repeated in the Law 224/1846, article 3. Colleo de Leis, Decretos e Resolues da Provncia do Maranho.

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104 how flexible gender relations can be, varying according to imposed conditions; we should pay attention to the very social genesis of this people. Their formation as a people emerged from the contradictions between the cultural norms that should supposedly rule their gender relations and the realities in which there relations can be actually performed. People can passar baixo, survive under very poor conditions – not eating meat or even beans; the bottom line is surviving with rice-only meals for a while. In the worst scenario, even rice has to be bought on a daily basis, forcing them to work every day for food, without any control of their labor or the production process, a situation that jeopardizes their way of life and is locally called cativeiro, captivity. When cativeiro haunts the village as a group, social antagonisms are delineated and conflicts are eminent because the ethic of autonomy that is central to their way of life is threatened. It is in this context that strategic transformations in the current symbols are observed. In section A, I have described some of the practices and symbols that form and inform the way of life of the peasants in the Mearim valley. I have also described a gender hierarchy that helps to structure this way of life at the micro-level. I have concluded that a major force impelling this way of life is the antagonism between trabalho livre and cativeiro. In the next section, I examine how this antagonism matured into conflicts at the municipal level, and the effects they had in gender relations. To do that, I start by examining the formation of Mutiro, the social movement expressed in Lago do Junco, which was then the only form of resistance visible to me. Men and Women in the Making of a Social Movement Conflicts, agreements and an unsolved state Villages and municipalities throughout Maranho have faced social conflicts related to the antagonism between trabalho livre and cativeiro for years. What made

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105 Lago do Junco a municipality with villagers standing up against cativeiro? What were the social situations leading to changes, which included dispersion of points of choice related to changes in gender relations? In this section, I attempt to answer these questions by analyzing the data obtained in a focus group interview. The focus group involved women leaders who emerged from their village lives as housewives and producers, to public standing points as leaders of movements for access to land and forest resources. Table 2-1 shows the conditions under which each interlocutor speaks: Table 2-1. Illustration of a focus group with women leaders Participant Formal education Year and place of birth, and residence Situation of accessed land Public role Maria Alades Alves de Sousa 4th grade 1955, Ludovico same. Settlement project, by ITERMA and a small holding City commissioner elected in 2000 Sebastiana Gomes Siqueira 4th grade 1962, Centrinho dos Acrsio, same. Collective property obtained through negotiation, mediated by the church Manager of the soap factory owned by AMTR Maria Jos de Souza Silva 4th grade 1962, Tres Poos, Juruparana and L. Rodrigues Family inherited property obtained by regular purchase and rented land Director of the rural workers’ union Francisca da Silva Pereira 4th grade 1962, Limo-CE, So Sebastio Collective property, obtained through a donation by a pressured landlord Coordinator of AMTR Ivete Ramos Silva 2nd grade 1963, S.Joo da Mata, S.Manoel Settlement project, carried out by ITERMA Coordinator of AMTR Otaclia S. do Carmo 1st grade 1956, Crato-CE L. Rodrigues Collective property, obtained by regular purchase Former coordinator of AMTR Raimunda A. Gonalves Silva 4th grade 1955, Tres Poos, same Collective property, obtained by purchase Health agent, former coordinator of AMTR Note: ITERMA=Institute of Land of the State of Maranho. AMTR=Association of the Rural Worker Women of Lago do Junco. It is important to note that my interlocutors represent specific situations, in terms of age, education, access to resources and political standing. This focus group was composed of women who had participated in agrarian conflicts in Lago do Junco, since the beginning of the 1970s, with the peak of violence from 1986 to 1988. In these 3 years, intense changes in gender relations occurred, because “this was the only way: women and

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106 children stayed, watching for an attack at any time. It was not possible for everybody to leave for the forests. Men needed to leave to sleep in the forests to hide, and women needed to stay.” These conflicts involved the villages of Trs Poos, Centrinho, Z Machado, Pau Santo, So Manoel, Ludovico, Santa Zita/Bertolino, Maraj, Cajazeiras, Centro dos Aguiar, vila So Joo, Macaba, and vila So Francisco. See Figure 2-2. Figure 2-2. Map of Lago do Junco indicating villages connected by social movements

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107 They resulted in a public visibility and in the regulation of their rights over the lands, through agreements, purchases, and Agrarian Reform with state and federal funds. There was even the foundation of a new village, So Sebastio, on land donated by a fazendeiro who felt pressured by the demands from landless men and women who had participated in several of these conflicts. These results came through a long process of intense mobilization, involving several actors. In the selected narratives, these were the main agents mentioned and their respective actions: the fazendeiros, through grilagem 36 and the system of political representation at the municipal level; o Povo da Luta, the People of Struggle, through the defense of land and roas; and the church, through the establishment of CEBs, Ecclesial Communities of Base, and engagement in the ACR, Animao dos Cristos no Meio Rural – Energy of Rural Christians, and CPT – Catholic Pastoral Land Commission. In this focus group, which I had started with an open suggestion that “we could start our conversation from the beginning, the beginning of everything,” the first processes brought up in the conversation were the land takeover by fazendeiros, reaction by people, and support from the church. References to the Catholic church were constant as it surely had a central role in the development of the mobilization process. One of the participants was discussing the church’s position through time, criticizing Friar Jos, the local priest until 1979: “He used to say that those who trespassed the landlord’s fence to gather babau were thieves. Whoever cut the fence’s wire was a criminal. He was mean.” Raimundinha, contesting such a critique, put the priest’s position as a local representative of the church into a time perspective, and told us that by the beginning of

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108 the 1970s, villagers of Tres Poos began to lose access to their lands and the friar was their only supporter. Conflict arose when land became scarce, as the fazendeiro Dr. Ariosvaldo had prohibited villagers to plant their roas on the usual lands, which he had registered as his property. When there was no place else to plant, four families left the village looking for other places to live, while twenty-two families decided to challenge the fazendeiro: “‘Let’s mark our roas in Dr. Ariosvaldo’s land’, which we used to call nosso terreno, our land. But when we went to mark our roas, he was right there waiting with all his hired gunmen.” Men turned back without working, and nothing happened that day, but then the struggle continued and lasted for 2 years, with several conflictive events knotting together material and symbolic aspects. “I remember one day, when the gunmen invaded my house. I was serving lunch when they entered by the kitchen door. We ran out, and they tomaram de conta das panelas, took over the pans, and ate the food! It was a Sunday, and the men were in the forests; only we were at home. Not everybody was camping in the forests; only women were at home. I was pregnant with my third son. . . . Women were the ones to thresh rice, as men could not enter [roa] either to harvest or to thresh rice” (Raimundinha, Tres Poos) This quote shows that in the conflict for material resources (land and forests), the power of symbols expressed through everyday practices was challenged. Symbolic resources (pans, doors, pregnancy, roa) intermediating gender relations were obstructed in their role of reproducing a way of life. Many changes were underway at the time, affecting these integrated symbolic and material conditions. First, a land they used to call nosso terreno, our land, also began to be called Dr. Ariosvaldo’s land, as the Land Laws had allowed him to legally appropriate it. Pregnant women had to run; men were in the forests on a Sunday; women began to assume the hidden men’s work. Unknown men 36 Grilagem means land grabbing, mostly by fraudulent speculators.

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109 used an inappropriate entrance to the house, through the kitchen, 37 and took over the pans, 38 a clear violation of the female domain, channeling women’s active roles in resistance practices. The pressure from fazendeiros forced us [the women] to be there, and to protect each other. For example, when a man was at roa, there was a large mutiro [to help him], but there were four or five [men] watching around that roa, while the mutiro was weeding, or planting or harvesting. And the women united themselves even more, because the need for food was great, and it was a form of organization. It was [an organization], because each day, one woman made lunch [for all], and another made dinner, [so that other women were free to assume men’s work]. [An assigned woman] had the commitment to take [the food] where the men were [hidden], and so she had to have a messenger to tell her: [they are] in such and such place. It was a form of organization, as we were under pressure. The results from these acts of organization depended on changes in relations between men and women, but also on relations with the allies that supported them in the conflicts. During those hard times, Friar Jos did not think it was right to challenge the fazendeiros’ ownership, but supported the villagers through the conventional legal venues. Accordingly, in 1973, villagers of Tres Poos ended up buying their own land from the fazendeiro. As the conflict became unbearable, they got a loan from the church, which they paid back in 4 years, 2 years before the deadline. Only years later, the priest would change his mind about challenging private property. Many processes were involved in these changes. 37 This has a sexual connotation because the entrance of a man, who does not belong to that household, through the back door, implies illicit sexual intentions. The front door faces other houses or the dirt street, being under the public surveillance and consent. 38 This expression elicits the transgression of the meaning of house, as a female domain. Tomou conta das panelas, took over the pans, is related to the appropriation of the means which women control to transform the raw into the cooked, the production of roa into the production of house. According to Gudeman (1988), the offer of the raw is related to economic (not necessarily monetary) transaction, while the offer of the cooked is related to honor. Based on field observations that helped me to design the core and boundaries of the female domains, my interpretation of Raimundinha’s narrative is that taking over the pans without consent was a dishonor to her womanhood and to her house.

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110 A second process was brought up in the focus group’s discussion as leading to changes in gender relations. It took place about the same time and was very correlated to the pressure over land resources. Although not really profitable in the way it was carried out, the government allowed garimpagem, placer mining, because it was a way to absorb the social tensions in that state of agrarian affairs (Schmink and Wood 1992:88). “At that time, the fofoca de garimpo, talk about gold mining, started. Many men left for [gold mining], a few bamburraram, got rich, and the rest ended up with malaria” (Raimundo Nonato). By the late 1970s, and throughout the 1980s and 1990s, mostly men moved from the Mearim valley to garimpos in western Maranho, Par, Roraima, Venezuela, and Suriname (Martins 2000). As a large contingent of landless or pressured men left for garimpos attempting to make a living, women stayed behind dealing with the maintenance of the family, until the remittances or the men themselves arrived, if they ever did. In addition to the movement to garimpos, men and women also left for urban centers of attraction. As a matter of fact, the construction of Braslia in the 1960s attracted many from the Mearim valley, and entire neighborhoods in satellite cities in Braslia are formed by maranhenses. Many young men still today keep going to sugar plantations and construction work in So Paulo. However, garimpo was allegedly the major factor pushing women and men to new relations, because, despite being apart, most of them maintained the family nucleus in Lago do Junco. Although male interviewees have described trips to garimpos much earlier, “my uncles went to Jacund before the 1940s,” it was in late the 1970s and 1980s that real changes took place. In 1979, the price

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111 of gold in the international market shot up, and from then until the early 1990s, hundreds of thousands of men went gold mining (Cleary 1990). The circulation of people and values was so intense that interviewees stated that some maintained open accounts in the bank, which served several friends for years, transferring sums to their families. However, men consumed most of the income in the garimpo. As an illustration, according to a study carried out in a garimpo in Par, where more than 55% of the workers, 55% of owners, and 67% of merchants were maranhenses, 13% of the workers’ income was sent to their families, while more than 60% was spent with prostitutes and drinking (Bezerra, Verssimo, and Uhl 1996). Women working as prostitutes also could not send much of what they earned. Whether conscious of that deviation of money from family matters or not, in addition to the material changes provoked by men’s leaving for the garimpos, as they withdrew labor from the roas, a change in perspective also occurred for women. Antonia, later one of ASSEMA’s coordinators, but then one of many housewives whose husband had left for garimpo, alleges: “When the husbands left the women, we had to get through by ourselves. In my case, I began to walk from village to village selling things, and then I realized that I could make my living by myself.” Fil, another leader who helped to form the “Quebradeiras’ Study Group,” later part of the Interstate Movement of the Babau Breaker Women, remembers: “I raised some pigs and sold them; with the money I was even able to build another house, as the one he had left us was about to fall over our heads Today, my husband complains that I am too self reliant, but it is all his own fault, because when he left, I learned to think by myself.”

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112 Besides the realization of self-reliance and great ability to network, women also began to express their political options more actively. Diocina, the current coordinator of EFALJ, 39 reminds us of the months in 1984 after her husband left for the garimpo, in which orange-leaf tea and a handful of cassava flour were her only meal for the day, so that her children could eat all the little rice she could harvest at her brother’s roa. As some men left, it is important to register consistent accounts of brothers, fathers, brothers-in-law, and older sons helping the women to maintain their families. Therefore, I believe it is important to expand the view on gender relations beyond the relations between husbands and wives. While men in Diocina’s family helped her, a network of women was also at work: It was more than a year and half [until my husband finally sent some money from garimpo] [When I received it] then I went ahead to buy things for my home, I bought rice. I bought corn. I bought beans. I bought everything. I bought little clothes for my children, some sandals. The money was not enough to buy any clothes for me, but I got by with the help of my friends: one gave me some shorts, another a shirt, and so we went on Diocina’s husband had left for garimpo to solve, as an individual, the problem of supporting his family in a context of land and forest resources scarcity. Diocina, however, as she received his support from garimpo, went further, as she and others engaged in a collective solution, which involved the defense of these lands and forests. Then I began to leave my children sleeping at night, and went to the meetings that we were articulating, to discuss the situation women were living. We were going to the forest to break babau, being abused by the fazendeiros, foremen, cowboys it was not only I who suffered that situation. Other women were going through this too, and we began to talk. We asked ourselves, what could we do? Nobody could 39 Escola Famlia Agrcola de Lago do Junco is a semi-boarding school that offers from 5th to 8th grade, being located in a central village, and directed by the parents and teachers. Youth spend 15 days boarded at school and 15 days at home, so they can keep up their work along with parents. Usually the municipality offers elementary school in each village; after that the teenagers have to move to town.

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113 leave. Men leave, but women stay with that absurdity of children to raise. We could not abandon our children: to go where? Then, I went to those meetings. When her husband came back definitively, after years back and forth from the village to garimpo, with some success, but mostly failed periods in gold mining, he was opposed to her risky participation in the movement against the landlords. But by then, Diocina had already made up her mind, and never again left the movement, in its different forms. In another case, Maria Alades, who was elected City Commissioner in 2000, had been another housewife whose husband had left for garimpos. She also began going to those underground meetings at night, and in spite of his family opposition, she convinced her husband to participate in the mobilization by contributing with food and ammunition to the struggle, with resources from the garimpo. When this conjugation of institutional and practical changes interacted, within a situation where symbols and material conditions were devastated to establish cativeiro, village after village entered in open conflict. Peasants and fazendeiros’ foremen were killed; police came onto the scene; roas were lost; women and men went to empatar (impede the foremen to cut babau bunches for individual appropriation by the landlords); and an intense mobilization took place challenging the fazendeiros’ power. In Lago do Junco, by the late 1970s, the church had fully embraced this movement and brought these struggles into public view. It was the mobilization of Mutiro, and women were there with a new attitude. From Mutiro to union, associations and cooperatives Examining the system of production to raise the main questions leading to the understanding of gender relations in the Mearim valley, it seemed to me at first sight that taking family or village as units of analysis would suffice to explain its functioning.

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114 However, empirical observations in Lago do Junco suggest that, in overcoming antagonisms challenging the foundations of this system of production, villages needed to interact among themselves, initially within Lago do Junco: they mobilized toward Mutiro. Within these interactions, gender relations have had a driving role in promoting social change and vice versa. To understand changes in gender relations at the municipal level, I needed therefore to examine the delineating factors of a village and the connecting factors among them. Studying the Nuer, Evans-Pritchard proposed a principle of contradiction in which a social group is defined by contrast, by its difference from the other. In Lago do Junco at first glance one could see the same, as each village is seen as an entity by itself, for its historical formation is related to specific families of assituantes, and the gradual aggregation of newcomers, dominating a defined territory. 40 Surrounding villages would recognize the territories marked by their roas and the following capoeiras in fallow, as well as by the use of certain bodies of water or forest resources related to these territories. However, making an assessment of this principle of differentiation through time, I confirmed that there is indeed a principle ruling the existence of the villages, but rather than fixed differences based only on the genealogy of the village formation, it comprehends a dynamic balance between differences and similarities, and above all how the dispersion of points of choice happened. In the situations observed, the principle 40 The method of genealogies as proposed by Malinowski would help to understand this. The villages, the Center of the Passarinhos or Center of the Aguiar for example, were named after the most influential assituantes or their aggregates. Later, whenever opportunities emerged, the Catholic Church motivated them to change these names to Saints’ names. This would be a legitimate representation of a system of collective ownership that assumed land and forest resources as common resources, and besides, devotion to saints was a strong aspect of the religion of a significant majority of them. However, it also camouflaged a series of relations that existed and kept evolving according to specific cultural rules regulating the process of assituar.

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115 would combine the history of genealogies with the political options made through time. Although difference rules the village formation through genealogy, according to the context, one is also defined by the political commonality with people from other villages. Each village has a distinct origin, a unique combination of families’ historical background, and forms of resource management, constructed during the process of assituar, which has specific rules for each one according to family ties, order of arrival, connections, size and composition of the family. However, pressure from the dominant sectors of society and from the state, compels them to find a comprehensive identity, as the “People of Struggle” or Mutiro for example, which distinguishes political activists from the other “non fighter” villages or non fighter people of each village or even family. 41 “In my case, I was in favor of Joaquim participating in the struggle, as my husband. I learned that his family, who were against our movement, was saying this: ‘If Joaquim gets killed in this conflict, by taking over owners’ land, invading others’ properties, his wife is the one to be blamed for it.’ I knew they were saying this, but I felt so good doing what I was doing that I was not even ashamed of showing myself in front of Adelino, to show him that I was there [with the people of Mutiro]. Because since the beginning of our marriage, Joaquim’s father and mother were very close to Adelino, and I was against him and to please me, Joaquim was on my side, and I realized that his people hated me for that. Then I imagined: ‘Here is such a great need, and we say we are the church, we are missionaries, then at this time when we need to join together, to find more allies, are we going to cross our arms? In these cases, only the coalition with other families and villages allowed the defense of the continuity of their system of production, where access to land and forest resources could be managed through trabalho livre, maintaining the basis of their social identity. Where usually extended family could help, now Mutiro was needed. Once the conflict is over, and when the state recognizes their rights to land, in some situations, 41 See also Scott’s (1998) Seeing Like a State.

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116 differentiation in access to resources may bring the principle of differentiation back. Within this process, gender relations are continuously reshaped. An interesting aspect of Foucault’s identification of “points of choice” is that social actors are not synthesized, reduced to a single monolith, a defined category in a structural model. Rather, social actors go through dispersion of points of choice regarding certain aspects, while converging in other aspects, and in this process construct social units that hold contradictions. Although families carry a common historical background in the formation of the village in which they live, which unites them, and makes them different from other villages, certain families may perceive and live this common experience diversely, which makes them more like families and sectors of other villages or town, for some aspects, and in some situations. Therefore, we need to learn both the rules that link them as equals and also the rules of differentiation, but overall, we need to understand the logic conducing these dynamic configurations. Such configurations may involve many social nets, such as ethnic background, specific occupations, compadrios, political options, etc. I illustrated this with the example of the political option to participate in the struggle for land, because this dynamic within and among villages and town in Lago do Junco has also shaped and been shaped by gender relations. The historical formation of the villages in Lago do Junco informed culturally constructed gender codes and rules driving relations among them, and between them and other sectors of society. Men and women may have lived the same historical formation while members of a social groups living in a village, but it does not mean that they experienced it in the same way or accepted it in the same way. Under certain aspects and

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117 in certain situations, both women and men may choose to challenge the rules and, within the interaction of social forces, even transform certain codes. The boundaries of such choices do not conform to the village line or to political option. Women from one village have challenged the oppressive aspects of gender relations, but needed to join women with similar political views from other villages, as not all women in their village took the choice of what is known as political activism. This is a locus of dispersion of points of choice in a field of strategic possibilities available in their social trajectories. In the same way, some families wanted to challenge the landlord, but could never reach their intent because the village as a whole never moved toward that direction of the recognized social movements. Some women and, as I have observed in a few cases, some men challenge the ruling gender code of male dominance, but they are not expressed in a public dimension. I ask therefore, whether there may be choices also aiming at resistance and social change, which are still invisible to us. At any rate, in the same way that social movements for agrarian reform needed allies or experiences in contexts other than the village, gender liberation also needed them. Therefore, the People of Struggle began to circulate among villages and towns, meetings were held, alliances were established and a common language celebrated. In this new language, domains related to gender were prone to change, because of relations between the women and foremen, the women and the church, and overall men and women within the constitution of a social movement. After more than 20 years of this mobilization, which went through several stages, people from 15 villages achieved regularization of access to land. Their situation is still critical, although not as increasingly difficult as for the landless majority of Lago do

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118 Junco who did not challenge the constituted powers. Is it a matter of asking what makes some people stand up for their rights to land and to access and use of resources, while others do not? Or is it a matter of looking for different forms of standing up that are more or less visible to the public eye? I believe that a dispersion of points of choices, a locus of diversity of trajectories, is found in the process of constituting a social movement, which in the case of Lago do Junco, coincided with the context of municipality. The constitution of a social movement is the point where some actors enter social situations that require, by definition, greater visibility. Their actions gain a public dimension, at municipal and broader levels, while others are engaged in other practices that do not. This is the point in which discourses and practices that emerged in the process of the constitution of a social movement, create objective structures holding subjective categories such as “organized and disorganized,” and “People of Struggle and not of Struggle.” Certainly, other categories are at work too, but these subjective categories gained a specific visibility, which resulted in the objective organization of investments in “gender and development.” And it is at this point that we should resume our inquiry on social blindness: “What about Maria Pretinho?” Having described and discussed the factors involved in the construction of a social movement, I now bring back the dispersion of points of choice identified and review them in the context of the construction of a municipality. It is in the municipality where I can join situations inside and outside of social movements, and situations in and out of public visibility. I also examine some data that could help to understand such construction, and try to resume the search for the social blindness that makes Maria Pretinho invisible.

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119 Men and Women in the Making of a Municipality Looking for Maria Pretinho in the numbers Trajectories such as Maria Pretinho’s are not very visible in the discourses of the social movements. The public visibility of a social movement seems to be part of its own definition, as the recognition of the emergence of a social movement more often than not coincides with its emergence to the public eye. The need to make local struggles public knowledge, so they can be considered a social movement, often dislocates struggles unfit to the mechanisms and processes that manage that specific visibility. These mechanisms and processes are those necessary to further mobilization and support from governmental and nongovernmental institutions and agencies, to grasp attention of specific audiences, and this necessity or ability is often absent in struggles such as that of Maria Pretinho. Throughout my fieldwork, I learned that trajectories such as hers have a flexibility and permeability that often implies invisibility, silence, or specific forms of expression, all of difficult tuning if we are in search of subjects of social change. Nonetheless, they exist, and the figures below may give a rough representation of the current situations in which we may find such trajectories. By the end of the 1990s, in Lago do Junco, only 2.2% of the residents had formal employment. The municipality itself employed 229 people (IBGE 1999b) and, in spite of allegedly promoting programs such as Income and Job Generation, Community Solidarity, and Professional Training, only 32 people were formal employees in the 28 private registered enterprises (IBGE 1996a and 1997). As such scarce and disputed jobs are still directly related to municipal power and the local elite, no wonder engagement in local politics is so strong. Nevertheless, as the offer is so minimal, labor employed in trabalho livre based on roa and on babau extraction remains essential to both its 2,839

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120 residents (28%) in the urban area and its 6,988 people (71%) living in the rural area. It is in this situation that it is likely to find family based endeavors such as that of Maria Pretinho, and of a large number of slave descendants. However, these people would not access land for roa and palms for babau extraction so easily. In Table 2-2, we can see the context of land distribution in Lago do Junco, and contrast it at the regional level in the Mearim valley. According to the 1996 Census, for example, a total of 1,962 producers utilized 33,855 ha: 23% of them were owners; 9% tenants; 7% sharecroppers; and 62% squatters, which is roughly representative of the situation of the Mearim valley. It is important to notice that 23% of the producers who were owners held 92% of the land, and 62%, representing the squatters, held only 7% of the land. The number of landowners has increased because of the so-called Agrarian Reform. Therefore, the numbers obtained from successive censuses show that concentration of land in Lago do Junco has decreased. Table 2-2. Number and area of land holdings, by condition of the producer Owner Tenant Sharecropper Squatter Micro region and municipality Land holdings Area (ha) Land holdings Area (ha) Land holdings Area (ha) Land holdings Area (ha) Mdio Mearim 8 966 659 772 7 792 16 572 618 1 151 14 011 31 713 Lago do Junco 444 31 122 174 211 136 149 1 208 2 373 Source: IBGE 1996b However, we need to pay attention to the fact that these new land “owners” of reformed lands are social actors qualitatively different from the conventional landowners. First, the beneficiaries of agrarian reform did not have automatic access to credit and other forms of capitalist support, lacking other means of production than land. Second, the land they were entitled is also qualitatively different from a private individualized

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121 estate, and other rules regarding this ownership apply. The proportion of landless peasants and their lack of access to forest resources continued pressuring the so-called reformed land, as families and villages are linked not only by criteria of political or religious affinity, but also through family and compadrio ties, trade or occupation networks, ethnic backgrounds, etc. Such ties demand common use of certain resources. In addition to the beneficiaries of the so-called Agrarian Reform, the new landowners of nonreformed lands can be small fazendeiros, who have regulated appropriations of public lands or bought posses, decreasing the stock of lands available to the landless. Because of land concentration, there is not enough land for efficient rotation of shifting cultivation, and impoverished small holders may sell the land for pastures. “I plant my roa on rented land now, but the problem is that people are selling land. This makes it complicated for me.” “If they sell to fazendeiros, can’t you rent from them?” “Fazendeiros let us to rent just once, because [after rice harvest] they cast grass seeds and then we can no longer plant” (seu Expedito Nascimento, Pacas). Therefore, the numbers showing formally decreased land concentration need further qualification. This land concentration can be better understood by looking at the size of holdings. As shown in Table 2-3, more than 60% of land holdings had less than 10 ha, while the “mdulo rural”(the smallest regional unit for landholding) is 30 ha. Table 2-3. Land Holdings according to groups of total area Land holdings according to groups of total area (ha), in 12.31.1995 Micro-region and municipality Less than 10 10 to 100 100 to 200 200 to 500 500 to 2000 Greater than 2000 No information Mdio Mearim 21 326 4 863 874 471 184 21 3 648 Lago do Junco 1 188 233 46 25 7 463 Source: IBGE 1996b Among these categories of land holdings, taking as an example those with 5 to 10 ha for its significance for Lago do Junco and the Mearim valley, a close examination in

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122 Table 2-4 regarding the condition of the producer in Lago do Junco will offer an idea of the role of extractivism and its importance to those denominated as ocupantes, squatters. Table 2-4. Number of producers, according to their condition, with holdings of 5 to 10 ha, in 1996, in Lago do Junco Group of economic activity Producer Condition Temporary agriculture Permanent agriculture Agriculture and cattle ranching Forestry and extractivism Owner 91,315 13,000 38,611 95,557 Renter 7,000 Sharecropper 6,050 Squatter 34,000 6,000 133,000 Source: IBGE Censo Agropecurio Even in this illustration with small size landholding, a significant and increasing number of owners and squatters are devoted to cattle ranching 42 , utilizing mostly natural pastures on a very small scale. However, the activity is still mainly a factor of resource concentration, as pastures occupy 65% of the lands in the Mearim valley and Lago do Junco, as shown in Table 2-5, while the number of cattle ranchers owning large pastures is reduced. Meanwhile, permanent and temporary agriculture takes up only 9% of the land (or 24%, if fallows are counted). In terms of roa, 80% of those who worked on these lands producing rice, the most important local agricultural product, had no land ownership (IBGE 1996). These data indicate the vulnerability in which roa is performed and its dependency on income from extractive and wage-labor activities. Table 2-5. Utilization of land in 12.31.1995 in ha Utilization of land in 12.31.1995 (ha) Micro-region and municipalities Total area (ha) Permanent and temporary agriculture Artificial and natural pastures Planted and natural forests Productive and nonutilized agricultural areas Mdio Mearim 709 208 49 656 459 172 59 687 122 959 Lago do Junco 33 854 3 103 22 062 2 759 5 029 Source: IBGE, Censo Agropecurio 1995-1996. 42 See R. Porro’s (2002) forthcoming doctoral dissertation.

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123 In this situation of land concentration, in an area highly concentrated in pastures, while the main source of subsistence comes from rice cultivation, extractive activities become very significant. Especially for homesteaders or squatters, who are responsible for 71% of the total production of babau kernels as shown in Table 2-6, the dependency on babau is essential to provide for the costs of planting roa on landlords’ lands (paying rent) and, in the worst cases, of direct purchase of food. Table 2-6. Amount of babau kernels produced in 1996, by condition of producer Condition of producer Brasil Maranho Mdio Mearim Lago do Junco Owner 22.325,22793 18.377,48243 5.568,64900 487,81100 Tenant 27.483,43494 25.836,93994 6.505,31580 313,25600 Sharecropper 8.213,16100 7.010,66900 902,25300 191,16100 Squatter 68.829,74288 63.162,05418 17.524,71050 2.463,75300 Source: IBGE Censo Agropecurio 1996 I believe that invisible trajectories such as Maria Pretinho’s would be found today hidden in the significance of land concentration, reduction to squatting, displacement by pastures, but above all, in the struggle to survive with roas and babau extraction. These numbers show that, as Maria Pretinho was made invisible by agrarian practices and policies in the beginning of the 20 th century, current realities would still erase her trajectory as we enter the 21 st century. Looking for Maria Pretinho in local discourses To deal with the realities reflected in the census numbers, even for the People of Struggle benefiting from the so-called Agrarian Reform, further social mobilizations were necessary. To organize both the achievements of the beneficiaries and the failures of a majority who were left landless, the People of Struggle needed to formalize their status vis--vis the government, state, and society. The Catholic church was still supporting the unfolding developments, and negotiated some formats of organization. In addition, the

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124 state certainly imposed rules to continue the process, requiring specific forms of social representation and action, especially through the so-called Associations of Rural Workers, which would regulate land ownership through their statutes and internal regulations. It is important to note that, although the illiteracy rate has dropped, culturally this is a society that does not base its practices on written forms of norms and rules. Although obliged to submit themselves to these forms, people have processed such rules according to local interactions. Not only to continue with Mutiro, but also in maintaining the union, and creating Associations, and later a Cooperative, new mobilizations were necessary and new changes occurred, including in gender relations. Maria Alades describes the changes regarding women’s organization: “In the year of 1983 we began with the mothers’ club, discussing our needs. The church created [introduced the category of] the community agents, and later health agents. Sister Maria Faquine and others believed that we [women] had to participate more. [Participating in these movements at that time] was not like we are talking here now. It was at night, whispering, hidden behind the houses, in the backyards, at the margins of the reservoir, at a well’s shelter. This was the beginning of everything.” Maria was referring to the period in which the Catholic agents were pushing the women to participate in the social movements, the Mutiro. Women had begun to make plans collectively and to organize themselves strategically, not letting the fazendeiro or his cowboys know about their plans beforehand. However, the interviewees had mentioned several practices, such as babau gathering inside the fences, and taking babau piles gathered by the foremen, breaking them at dawn, which were before the “beginning of everything.” There are references to several forms of negotiation that also imply previous resistance. Therefore, I interpreted her expression to refer to the beginning of these actions as finally expressed to and understood by broader audiences. I compared interviews in

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125 which women described many actions and processes related to their resistance previous to the “beginning of everything,” and interviews regarding actions posterior to women’s insertion in the social movement integrated to Liberation Theology. I learned that, although some interviewees were enunciating that stage or that perspective of history as the total history, it should not be heard as the “everything.” Otherwise, this would be the passage in which the history of Maria Pretinho would be once more erased, not only by the official history reproduced by the colonels and governments, but also by local subjects themselves. Examining the interviews, I am certain that the interviewees do recognize a general history as they actually lived it. That total history in their mouths does not seem to me a lie or an amusement to distract the interviewer, but a sign that it has been imposed on us all in such a manner that, the history that must to be told is the one the interviewer and public audiences are able to understand and act on. Surely histories of resistance previous to the “beginning of everything” were part of their knowledge. As soon as the fazendeiros had begun to hire foremen or rendeiros 43 to collect all the babau from the ground just for themselves, and to cut bunches before fruits were dropped, violating the rule of “first come, first served” that organizes the extractive activities and regulates resource distribution among villagers, a counteraction had already started. Pressures increased when fazendeiros began to cast grass seeds in harvested roas’ openings, and to impede new roas. Women had never actually stopped extracting kernels since the beginning of the last century. 43 Rendeiros or arrendadores are a category defined by a relation between fazendeiros and these specific people who make verbal contracts to gather babau from a given area in exchange for cash or part of the production in kernels or charcoal, or for services such as pasture clearing. Such

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126 The support from the church should be considered therefore as another step in specific trajectories among many intertwined with a general history, related to the introduction of women’s struggle to a public environment, acknowledging it for the rest of the society and bringing it to a political arena. These were the situations in which women took part in recognized social movements. Stakes began to be negotiated not by the local communities or individuals only, but among groups with power differentials within the municipality of Lago do Junco, as part of national and international contexts. As a result of this social movement, a total of 5,235 ha were subject to the Agrarian Reform through INCRA or ITERMA, in addition to 767 ha purchased with the intercession of the church (8.7% of the municipality). In terms of socioeconomic achievements, the Cooperativa Extrativista Agroextrativista de Lago do Junco is completing 11 years of uninterrupted activities and is currently returning benefits to its associates. The Associao das Mulheres Trabalhadoras Rurais de Lago do Junco has completed 13 years. They have experimented with organic, unburned roas, and projects with essential oils and medicinal plants. They are commercializing babau oil, starch, and handcrafted soaps and paper, in the national and international markets, through alternative fair trade partners such as AVEDA, the Body Shop, and Pacific Sensuals, so they also entered into a “green” visibility, so to speak. In the sphere of political representation, there are also visible advances: the movement that emerged from the villages managed to elect six city commissioners in the last three governments (among them one woman), and successfully put forward a municipal secretary of agriculture. A massive presence of the movement in City Hall also a contract excludes other people from previously common resources, disorganizing rules of common use.

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127 forced changes in the municipal organic law regarding environmental regulations, protecting the babau palm and “authorizing the chief of the executive power to make the babau extractive activity, a free activity in the municipality” (municipal law number 005/97). 44 The visibility of their movements has fomented further changes, both in formal and informal aspects. As every position and every job is disputed in the public space, the movement has challenged the monopoly of formal public employment. The spreading of the “Free Babau Law,” an informal practice of free access to babau even on private property has benefited people beyond the boundaries of the social movement. The same happened with empates, a pacifist practice of stopping the devastation of the palms. So, I believe that changes are indeed underway and although not in the quality and speed desired by the women and men involved in the social movements, they have opted to further invest in them. However, I also believe that, at this point of the social movements’ trajectories, maintaining on eye on these visible matters, we also have to look for what has been made invisible to us. In the present, are there other histories of Maria Pretinho being erased? Made invisible not only by the fazendeiros and governments, but also by the movements and their allies themselves? Their presence is blatant. People are there, practicing trabalho livre according to ways of life that confront the dominant modes. The census numbers show that their existence is not a given, but a struggle against landlessness, vulnerable relations to means of production, and socially and environmentally unfavorable conditions. Can we say that 44 Shiraishi points out that this local level, legal achievement reinforces the free access and common use of the palms, suggesting, however, that it is necessary to change the juridical system in which the property is still viewed as an absolute right. Otherwise, this municipal law would be an easy target for debates over its constitutionality (2001:53).

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128 they are just popular masses surviving in false consciousness? My stay in the villages taught me that a multiplicity of trajectories are lived in accordance with a way of life based on trabalho livre, and this sounds to me a territory of tremendous struggles and resistance. The significant number of people who are outside the recognized social movement, by no means disqualifies it. Rather, the dimension and gravity of their situation reinforce the legitimacy of the social movement. However, I believe it is an important step at this stage of the social movements in Lago do Junco, not to erase in discourse and practice the uniqueness of trajectories such as Maria Pretinho’s, homogenizing her into a mass of numbers that remain landless, attributing it to false consciousness. Rather, I believe that, the fact that such trajectories have continued to be lived, in spite of these conditions and lack of recognition as a social movement, and that these people have dared to carry on ways of life against all odds, is the very proof of their resistance. And if this resistance is not visible to the public eye for the moment, these people’s very existence demonstrates that our social blindness continues at work. Conclusion: Social Blindness in the Construction of Gender In this chapter, I disarmed myself from any attempts to mold gender by the force of preestablished analytical frameworks and assumed knowledge, as I recognized that several factors have blinded me from multiple forms of living gender relations. In the context of a municipality, I described the practices and symbols of a peasant way of life constructed in a state of disconnected agrarian structures: roas and babau breaking, practiced even by the landless, as an affirmation of their symbolic domains as men and women. The Free Babau Law is carried out in everyday practices in spite of a legal system strongly founded in property rights. I examined the significance of the state, the

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129 agrarian laws, systems of political representation, and Catholic pastoral actions in setting the social context of Lago do Junco, and the emergence of its social movement. I identified several loci of dispersion of points of choice throughout this chapter: Within the peasantry, there were divergent trajectories in relation to land: acquisition as individual property diverging from the struggles for land as a resource of common use. In relation to labor, there were situations in which peasants became urban or rural proletarians, while in others, even when they placed labor in the labor market, it was a form to acquire resources to reinforce the peasant mode. Finally, there were situations in which labor was a full expression of trabalho livre in a terra liberta, free land. Another locus of dispersion is observed in the strategies adopted to deal with the attempts to dominate land and labor: further migration in search of terra sem dono, to garimpo, and to urban centers of attraction. These different trajectories involved divergent political positions: individual or family-based endeavors, interclass alliances, or consolidation of peasant political movements. In some situations, women chose trajectories diverse from their husbands, or from their own extended families, and embraced Mutiro. In other situations, women lived acts of resistance by struggling to survive in antagonistic contexts, keeping control of their labor, although outside of recognized social movements. These choices led to multiple and discontinuous forms of gender relations in the Mearim valley, those observed in Maria Pretinho’s and those observed in Maria Jos’s family. These are not variations circumscribed within a single theme, or oppositional, fixed categories of a structural table of differences, but they are viewed as “systems of dispersion,” in which trajectories evolve according to their own paths, converging and

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130 diverging according to points of choice. By identifying, in this chapter, several loci of dispersion of points of choice, from which trajectories diverged from the total history of the Mearim valley, I initiate the examination of the reasons why multiple forms of living gender relations in these trajectories may be invisible to our eyes. The state executing the agrarian policies ruled by consecutive Land Laws, erased diverse ways of life and forms of living gender relations. To deal with this situation, activists, practitioners, pastoral agents struggled to bring specific social movements to public visibility, adopting discourses that attributed false consciousness to unrecognized forms of resistance. Researchers involved in the process reinforced this erasure by privileging well-established analytical frames and research focused on recognized movements. As Malinowski entered in the land of the Mailu, he was certain that they would be there, but also certain that the field ahead was a world of invisibilities to see, unknown languages to speak, and trajectories to trace. It is in this anthropological spirit that I want to re-enter the field of my dissertation about the Mearim valley. As an ethnographer, to ask myself, what is still unknown in the social movements that I thought I knew so well? What is gender beyond the preestablished frame I had prepared to research my object? The current Bishop of the Diocese of Bacabal, the Franciscan Friar Belisario has chosen as his motto a phrase from Hebrews 11:27: "Like someone who could see the invisible.” As a tribute to Maria Pretinho, I pursue my questions on gender relations in this spirit, like an ethnographer who wants to see the trajectories made invisible by our social blindness.

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CHAPTER 3 DONA VALERIANA PARGA MADE VISIBLE: DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER IN MONTE ALEGRE, A VILLAGE IN THE MEARIM VALLEY Introduction In chapter 2, through the representation of the former slave Maria Pretinho’s life, I identified several loci of dispersion of points of choice, in which trajectories diverged from the total history of the Mearim valley. I discussed the reasons why multiple forms of living gender relations in these trajectories may become invisible to our eyes. I began to divest myself from preestablished formats to discuss gender, by examining social interactions within Lago do Junco, a locality founded in 1925 by Maria Pretinho and her sons. Lago do Junco evolved into a municipality, disaggregating from the original municipality of So Lus Gonzaga, which was founded in 1854. In this chapter, I want to examine another, much older locality of So Lus Gonzaga, which did not evolve into a municipality, but became and remained as a village until today: Monte Alegre, a fazenda founded by the slave owner Captain Vertiniano Ferreira Lisba Parga, by the second half of the 19 th century. After abolition in 1888, differently than the situation led by Maria Pretinho, characterized as assituante, another former slave, Valeriana Parga left the place where she was with her children, and joined the former slaves of Monte Alegre to transform this slave fazenda into a very specific type of village. While Maria Pretinho and her sons dealt with an antagonistic society as an assituante family, Valeriana Parga and other former slaves managed to do this as a 131

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132 village, negotiating their ways of living (and living gender relations) with society as a more complex peasant social group. Monte Alegre became a peasant village conceptualized as a terra de preto, land of the blacks, 1 as Valeriana and other former slaves purchased its tenure from Captain Vertiniano. They established social relations specific to former slaves who achieved land ownership as a common resource, and maintained it so through trabalho livre, a set of social relations from which gender cannot be dissociated. Examining the trajectory of Dona Valeriana Parga, narrated by the granddaughters and grandsons of these slaves, I want to answer my second research question: How are gender and other social relations transformed in times of conflict, struggle, and political resistance? In the second section of this chapter, through the transcribed and translated narrative of the elders of Monte Alegre, I examine the construction of gender relations in the context of those social relations that put a village together. Through their narrative, we learn about specific forms of gender relations informing their struggle for the land, from slavery, to “freedom,” to agrarian conflicts, and how it brought about social visibility. In the third section, I describe the unfolding developments in Monte Alegre, as it was accounted as part of the social movements in the Mearim valley, and was the object of development actions through the Agrarian Reform program. I discuss how the social 1 In my last fieldwork, I realized that the term terra de preto is used among themselves, and is ascribed to them by the villagers in the surrounding areas. However, it seems that while the term in the mouth of the subjects themselves is perfectly acceptable, and although they know outsiders refer to them in these terms, a direct reference to the term, by outsiders, in their presence, may be offensive. “Tem gente mesmo que tem essa desconsiderao. There are people who have this inconsideration [of calling us blacks in our faces].” This observation may not be valid for leaders that circulate in the social movements of Conscincia Negra.

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133 visibility attained through the development projects collided with the peasant way of life, and how women were made visible in dealing with these problems. I analyze how this type of visibility that led to extra exploitation of women was formed, and permeates development projects carried out by the so-called Association of Monte Alegre and governmental agents. Drawing on these discussions, I analyze how a peasant way of life is inherently connected to the constructions of gender, as these constructions are themselves invisible and silent forms of resistance at the village level. I conclude this chapter stating that differentiated forms of gender relations are often reversed and overturned during periods of conflict and struggle, and these transformations are part of a multi-faceted general history that has been denied and made invisible by the total history of global and national society. The Construction of Gender in the Formation of Monte Alegre Contextualizing the Narrative I first went to Monte Alegre in 1986, accompanying my husband Roberto Porro on one of the many weekends he used to work, because villagers considered that meetings to “talk about projects” should not withdraw weekdays from working on roa. It was not that meetings were disregarded, but roa and project were clearly distinct matters. I did not belong to any of these spheres at the time; I was there just to get to know a new village, and take my kids for a ride in the Toyota. My first entrance in a terra de preto was, therefore, as a wife and a mother visiting an “exotic” place for a weekend. Until then, to my eyes, black was just a phenotype, a color I had begun to overlook since it was largely the color, with infinite nuances, of the local population. 2 In Monte Alegre, however, the skin color presented much fewer nuances. Also, there were two

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134 terreiros, centers for umbanda (a religious syncretism of African and Brazilian influences), the practice of tambor de crioula (a drum party of three different heavy log-drums played by men in which the woman has a central role), and caixeiras (several lighter drums played by women). At school, there was even a palmatria – a tool dating from the time of slavery used to punish faulty students. 3 In 1986, Monte Alegre had about 60 taipa houses aligned along two perpendicular dirt trails. Similar to other villages, there was no electricity or running water, covered wells or outhouses. But, among all of the villages I knew, this was surely one having more meager material conditions, and even though 7 years had passed since their houses and lifetime belongings had been burned during a land conflict, it seemed that everyday survival consumed practically every potential investment in material goods. There was a minimum of furniture; tree trunks were often used as benches, and gas stoves observed in other villages, used for quick jobs in complement to the mud stoves, were mostly absent. Babau-leaf mats, replacing more permanent wood doors and windows, were often just closed by a little string when the residents left for longer periods. However, the impressions of such an absence of material conditions, more than anywhere else, contrasted with the observations of strong social networks. One could see the children circulating through the houses, having lunch in their madrinhas’ houses, being taken care by their grandmothers or aunts, or just neighbors. My impressions were that, from laundry to babau breaking, from hunting to slashing, people seemed 2 According to IBGE, the rural black population of Maranho is 3 Palmatria is a single-piece wood tool in the shape of a conventional hand mirror used to punish slaves. The circular part has a hole in the middle, so that when the paddle strikes the palm of the victim’s hands, the air does not cushion the blow. Although this tool was used in many Brazilian rural schools until a recent past, it is intriguing to find lasting samples in a terra de preto at the end of the 20th century.

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135 synchronized to an order and rhythm of their own. A network of compadres and comadres, neighbors and friends, and relatives, was fully at work, either in matters of production or consumption, at roa or house. In their conversations, the frequency of delimiting terms such as “gente de dentro” (insiders), and “gente de fora” (outsiders), and marriages mostly among insiders, reinforced the impression of an exotic specificity of this village. Their social order also seemed differentiated from that of other villages. In many other villages, in casual conversations, it was not rare for people to mention old women as leading the arrival and foundation process of a “center,” but it seemed more as an internal affair, without actual effects on formal political relations with outsiders. In Monte Alegre, however, from the very beginning, almost as a formality, people took me to be introduced to the granddaughter of dona Valeriana Parga (1856-1936), dona Vitalina (born in 1915), who was and still is viewed as a leader. A special type of leader though, as she was a leader related to the “first elders.” At that time already, the usual interlocutors regarding project or governmental agents and other outsiders had started to be elected among male heads of household, turned into leaders of projects, assuming the roles of president and board of directors of the formally constituted association of rural workers. However, my condition of “wife” allowed me to enter through other venues, that of the elders. Soon after my introduction to dona Vitalina and her daughter dona Nazir, the elders dona Euzbia, dona Sind, Joo Paulo and seu Nenenzo, came to talk. I perceived dona Vitalina mostly as a serious person with a sophisticated sense of humor, quite different from other always playful, all-joke people in the village. The importance they

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136 attributed to their oral history, with a special focus on the land, was soon evident, as it was a spontaneous and constant topic in our conversation. After a couple of visits, I asked permission to come back again and record their narratives for later written registration, with which they agreed with satisfaction. It was the beginning of 16 years of relationship. After the first 3 years, I left my role as “Roberto’s wife” and occasional visitor, and began to work for them as a project manager, as Monte Alegre was part of ASSEMA since its founding. After quitting this job, since 1995, I have returned almost every summer, but then as a student. Throughout this process, I came to realize that skin color, specific religion, artifacts related to their material culture, and even the customs I viewed as exotic delimitations between them and the non blacks, were very limited instruments to define the realm of their village. The narrative representing the formation of the village of Monte Alegre is the result of a series of conversations among the elders of Monte Alegre. These conversations took place on several occasions, but were recorded only on four occasions in a time span of 2 years, and were then transcribed, translated, and chronologically reordered. Proofreading the text with them assured me of their approval, at least of the Portuguese version. As the transcriptions were read at the local school, children depicted some of the situations, illustrating scenes for a booklet. At the time, I did not have any training in ethnographic interviewing, and erased my few questions, which were mostly to verify meanings and assure the chronological order and connections of the events. I try to validate the narrative as ethnographic data by describing the context of its enunciation. Listening to the Narrative These are the words of dona Vitalina de Andrade, her daughter dona Cleonice “Nazir” Andrade, the now deceased dona Euzbia Parga, dona Maria de Jesus “Dij”

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137 Bringelo, seu Nenenzo, and the now deceased seu Joo Paulo, the elders of Monte Alegre, in the end of the 1980s. On two occasions, Dona Celina, Dona Jota, and Dona Noza from Olho D’gua dos Grilos joined the group. Dona Vitalina and Dona Euzbia begin and lead the narrative (Figure 3-1). Figure 3-1. Seu Nenenzo and dona Vitalina Maria Andrade (1) My grandmother used to tell me many histories, very many. There are a lot of histories about that time of enslaved blacks, of brutal beating. (2) Very close to here, in Santana and So Joo, there was a master named Jansen. Joo Jansen. His wife was Ana Jansen, who was so bad that she lost herself in life. When one like her dies, this one does not have the right to anything, only to hell. There, in Santana, there was a sumidor, a hole that makes you disappear. I myself saw the huge hole; it is still there, in the middle of the mango trees. It was to throw blacks down the hole. But my grandmother Valeriana Parga told me that the white, her master, was not that bad. They beat indeed, but much less than others. There were the bad ones who took the skin off the backs. (3) My grandmother was Valeriana Parga. Parga was the name of the white. The blacks were obligated to use the white’s name. At that time of slavery, as the day started, blacks had to take care of the master’s services. Then, only on Sundays, they went, already tired, to wash clothes; to iron them; to take care of their own things, to get everything ready. The blacks worked for themselves only on Sundays.

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138 (4) My grandmother Valeriana told us many histories, very many. But we forget because we just forget, because it was a long time ago. Her own death was a long ago. My grandmother died in 1936. She told me that she was a slave, but she was not so mistreated. No, she had a master, there in Santa Isabel, named Raimundo Onrio. She used to say that slaves at the Mundico Onrio’s fazenda did not suffer too much. A woman, when those days of her [delivery] arrived, went to the hospital, with tied heads, covered ears, wearing shoes and everything. The women stayed there for eight days. So, it was indeed a bad time, because they were slaves, but there was that freedom regarding diseases, regarding people who did not like to work too much. My grandmother lasted a long time. She died of old age, not of mistreatment. (5) As a girl, she wandered around. She was born in Parnaba. She moved the whole time, to there, to here, to somewhere else. She told me a history that was more or less like this: She undertook a trip with her master, which took a whole year inside a ship, six months to go and six months to come back. She could never tell us which was the city, but in that city there were no blacks at all. The only blacks were she and her brother, but she herself could never get out of the ship. Only her brother left the ship, to be shown as a sample. He got many gifts, for being black, with curly hair. In that trip, her master was not Mundico Onrio yet. It was another one, because at that time, people were sold just like selling limes. At that time people lived under coercion. (6) As they were returning from that trip, the ship was about to sink; it groaned twice. Because ships have this thing: if it groans three times, it must sink. But Valeriana’s ship gave only two groans. She felt that someone was pulling the ship down. People were climbing up the poles and on those things, shooting up and sending signals. But it was only water and sky and nothing else. It was like that until the day when everybody was already prepared to die. But then, she felt that it stopped pulling the ship down. So, this was how everybody was saved, thanks to God. There was also the history of Gonalves Dias. She told us that his ship also groaned, and it ended up sinking, there, in the mouth of the Mearim River. 4 (7) After these travels, other masters acquired Valeriana and the last one, in fazenda Santa Isabel, nearby here, was this Mundico Onrio. By the time of the liberty, she was already here, in a place named Lapinha, in Santa Isabel. There she lived with her children. When freedom arrived, they went to play drums. They spent a week playing, slaughtering cattle. When freedom was proclaimed, from there on, each one became owner of one’s self, to take care of one’s own services. But first, they went to jump and dance, and everybody was happy. She tells us so. 4 Antnio Gonalves Dias was a famous writer born in 1823 in Caxias, Maranho, son of Vicncia M. Ferreira, a black woman and a white merchant, Joo Gonalves Dias, who worked for the government in the development of the Northern and Northeastern region. His ship sank in the coast of Guimares, in 1864.

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139 (8) By the time this place was freed, about eight days passed, then the white, chief of this place, Vertiniano Parga, offered to let them buy Monte Alegre. And the blacks signed yes. “I sell to you, to not sell to others. If not, people will invade and take (the land) from you.” The women went to harvest cotton at Santa Isabel, to pay for this deal. (9) Delfino’s father was the feitor, foreman here, and his name was Leo. See, he was not supposed to have any rights, since he was a foreman. And he was a black. Then, they went to get the land document in Caxias, and Leo had it in his hands, because the blacks left everything in his hands. Monte Alegre is of the blacks. Now, the old man [Delfino] died and left the paper in the hands of Zidoro, one of his sons. And they let it be like that, because at that time, we trusted in everybody. (10) At that time, there were no meetings like today. But people were more united. It was enough to speak, because there was always a chief, who was the eldest. He would say: “Tomorrow we are going to clear such and such an area,” and everybody went, and there was no one to say “I won’t.” If someone fell sick, everybody had their own roa, but they all got together and went to the sick one’s roa. So, at the right time, this one had the same as the healthy ones. (11) To tell the truth, when the white sold the land, it was an agreement between him and 12 blacks. They were the ones to buy. This, the elders told us. And as Zidoro [the foreman’s grandson] could plan more and everybody trusted him, the land document was in his hands. There was a payment, which he said was to pay the land taxes. Everybody gave a payment to him. Only the sick ones gave less. And there was an order, which the elders ruled. When it was said: “Put this one to run this task, and this other one to do that other service there.” That was it! That was done. (12) The twelve blacks [mentioned men: Ipolito and Tiago Parga, and women: Valeriana, Cizina, Chica Castro, Cantdia and others] worked a lot. There were Tiago Parga and Ipolito Parga. Everybody was Parga because the white of Monte Alegre, who was the brother of the white of Montevidu, was named Vertiniano Parga. And the blacks signed their names by the name of the white, at that time. (13) They used to plant everything. There were lots of cotton, rice, lima beans, corn, cassava, sugar cane, everything. The only things that were few here were beans. There were not many oranges either. But, in every backyard there were a couple of orange, lime, and tangerine trees. Papayas were like weeds. Babau was only for self-consumption. Nobody sold it, because everybody was busy harvesting rice. As it ended, there was corn, and after that, cotton. In the forests, there was plenty of hunting. (14) From all this abundance, we ate, and sold in Pedreiras, Ipixuna, putting aside a sum of money, which Zidoro told us was to pay the land taxes. I believe he paid it to INCRA. Besides the families of the twelve blacks, there were more people. There were almost 200 families. Here was a place of lots of people. Streets of houses

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140 were everywhere, many more than today. At that time, one could produce more than 600 alqueires of rice, without borrowing money from others. Nobody classified anybody, who had money, or who did not. Nobody had this greed for money as we see today. There was not such a thing as a daily wage. People got together like this: a group of thirty men, meaning, when there were thirty men, there were thirty women too, that made up sixty people. What was the roa to challenge such a number of people? By the time to harvest cotton, my goodness! The people became so excited! (15) But one day, Zidoro was already very old, and Zzimo, his nephew who lived nearby, showed up. He asked to see the land document, but it was with bad intentions. So, he got the paper, and looked and looked and, all of a sudden, he left. He left through this trail right here, saying: Uncle, I will take this paper to fix something that is on it.” Just then, Zidoro learned that it was betrayal, because Zzimo was already saying around that Monte Alegre was his land. Zidoro yelled a lot: “Zzimo, give me back this paper, give it to me!” The next day, Zzimo came back to talk to the old man, to propose to buy the land from him. “I am not going to sell land to anybody, Zzimo!” and Zzimo said: “No, uncle, I buy the land in your hands and I pay you for it.” Then Zzimo gave an old mule to Zidoro; it was so old that the next day they needed to pull her to the forest because she died of old age. Zidoro cursed Zzimo a lot because of this paper. Zzimo took the paper, put it in his pocket and never gave it to anybody. So, Zzimo became the owner of Monte Alegre. Everybody was forced to pay the rent to Zzimo, and Zidoro died cursing his nephew: “Thief! Disgraceful!” And Zzimo was just receiving the rent and humiliating the people. He expelled some, sent others away. (16) So, it began to be said that Monte Alegre was Zzimo’s. And when Zzimo died, he did not clear the conscience of his children, leaving his children as owners. Monte Alegre was divided in three parts: the Stio, the Centro, and the Babosa. Zzimo’s family lived in the Centro and all the others, who he said were his aggregates, lived in Stio and Babosa. So, Zzimo’s children started a big confusion, selling pieces of land here and there. Zzimo died in 1972; from 1973 to 1975 his children made this big mess. (17) The first one to sell was Esperana, who was the oldest daughter of Zzimo’s second family, as he was father of two families. They lived in Centro, and when Esperana decided to sell some land, she sold Babosa and warned her brothers and sisters: If you want to sell any part of this land, sell from here, the Centro, up to Babosa, because if you sell from here to the Stio of Monte Alegre, you will ask for trouble!” She was aware, because when the old man died, she gathered the land document and went to leave it in the notary office in So Lus Gonzaga. (18) Over time, these children of Zzimo sold everything. Zzimo himself, even though many had tried so hard to convince him, he himself did not sell the land. But it went on and on, and his children sold the land to Ademar. When Esperana sold her possessions, she sold the land next to the limits, next to Veloso, there, where

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141 Babosa is. But when they actually gave the land to the white, they gave him the Stio of Monte Alegre, here. (19) Ademar was from fazenda Camena. Even Ademar by himself, he was not so bad. The greatest persecution was by his partner, Nivaldo, who used to say that he was used to “doing away with nests of blacks.” Doctor Ademar even said: “Let’s just receive the rent for 2 or 3 years, and after that let’s leave these people alone.” But then, there was this partner, a certain Nivaldo, who said: “No, because I really need to get this [land], I will not let go for the people.” And so it was; there was lots of persecution and suffering. (20) In 1978, they prohibited us to plant our roas here, and the people, many people, went to plant roas outside. And the fazendeiros kept coming to fence the whole land. They began to fence. The topographer came, all of them came to camp, working around here. But to plant roa outside was not working out. The people had tried and they could not get anything out of it. (21) So the time to fight arrived. The fight began inside here, almost only the women by themselves. We saw that everything was wrong, because we knew and were conscious that we had the rights, so we kept thinking. There, one would say: “People, where are we going to go?” and the other would say: “Where are they going to send us?” At this time, Vitalina came back from a trip she had made to So Lus, and she was hardly aware of most of the things. But when people like Chica’s Shorty asked her: “Vitalina, the people are already moving. Where are you going?” She said: “I am going to stay right here. This is my place. From here nobody will take me; it is here I am going to stay.” (22) In 1978, we began the first meetings, there underneath that tree, in that camar bush, the three women alone: Vitalina, Nazir, and De Jesus. One day, in the beginning, there was a young man who was traveling to So Lus, to resolve an issue involving Montevidu [a neighboring fazenda]. Then, these women here got together and wrote something, to send to the men there, authorities, saying how many people they, the fazendeiros, wanted to expel. But we were so afraid. We did not tell the people anything, because it was said that those who made any move were hunting for a bullet in their foreheads or for a beating. Joo Paulo, Luiso [the male elders] said that. This young man who was taking the letters belonged to the union. He was a union's local representative; he was a black from a little place named Barro Branco, inside Monte Alegre. In this way, we, the women collected money, without saying what for, [which was for financing his trip to the capital.] The young man, Mundiquinho, returned [from the capital] excited, and said: “It may work!” In the beginning it was only we, three women. On Sundays we went to hunt contributions, without saying what it was for, and the people asked: “What is that money for that these girls want?” and we said: “We don’t know, we just want you to contribute!” Afterwards, we sat down to make plans. On Sundays, cumadre De Jesus did not rest. When we were not writing, we were gathering contributions.

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142 (24) When it was in his third trip to the capital, we began to call the others. One day, when I was arranging the horse’s stuff and the money for the union’s young man, Juarez showed up and asked what was that for. When he found out what it was for, he said: “Why did you not tell me this before? I had around 50 cruzeiros, which at that time was a whole lot, but I still have 2 cruzeiros here; take it.” In this way, more people began to get together. But many people were leaving, and I said: “The last to be gone will be me and Saint Benedict.” So, many of the descendants of the twelve blacks are still here, but there are many who are already spread through the world. I was afraid that, at the very moment, the people would not stand together, but the time came, and there was support. (25) People here were struggling, but not together with the people of Olho d’gua dos Grilos [the neighboring black village, under the same threat.] We were by ourselves. Now, Noza, who lives in Olho d’gua dos Grilos, belongs to the Parga family. So, she said she was sleeping one night, and she dreamed of something. Then she said: “I am going to Monte Alegre.” And then she met Juarez [who is from Monte Alegre] on her way, and told him the dream she had dreamed, and said: “Don’t deny it to me, because I am from there [Monte Alegre] too: where you go, I go too!” So, Juarez told her what we were doing, and she said: “I dreamed and they came to tell me every little thing, how the fight was that was happening.” After that, because of Noza’s dream, the people of Olho d’gua joined the people of Monte Alegre to fight. They did not yet have the vision, but because we were all in the same suffering, we would not let them spread out, lost by themselves, and called them to join the struggle. In 1979, the people got together. At this time, we had made many trips to the capital. Juarez began to join Mundiquinho, the young man from the union, and later Garimpeiro from Olho d’gua also began to travel together with them. (26) By that time, once, there was a meeting in Monte Alegre, and a “colonel” came here. There was also a female lawyer from INCRA; her name was something like Artemsia. That day, almost 200 people gathered together. But what the lawyer wanted, the people did not want, because she wanted to fight. [She said that we did not have the chicken and wanted to sell eggs. She meant that we did not have a large enough number of needy people to claim the land, to make a case for a social conflict. As a fight strategy, she wanted to put people from Lima Campos, a neighboring town, here.] So, she was taken out. She said that she was a woman from the waistline down, but from the waistline up, she was a man. Mundiquinho, who was the union's local representative, kept going to take our letters to the authorities there in So Lus, and cheered us. When the fazendeiros’ fences were almost done, there were meetings at the union all the time. At this point, there were many people involved in our fight. We made contracts to have trucks to take us to town. We did not have anything, but we had to contract a truck to go, full of people, from here to So Lus Gonzaga, full of men and women, to meet with them. [We were put in jail. One day, So Lus Gonzaga’s prison was full of people, and this was the most horrible thing in life. When there was a hearing, all people went, and that day, the people went, and everybody got a big beating.]

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143 (27) When we arrived there, at the union, it was a heck of a mess! Nivaldo, from fazenda Camena, which is today the fazenda Salvao, became so mad that he could not even finish up the meeting and left. The people pressured him so much, that he became like crazy and said: “Enough for today! Some other day I will come here to talk only with the union’s president!” At that time, the union’s president was senhor Ivaldo. And then the people turned back home, but always watching. Because the whole time, once in a while talk arrived, that the man was coming to attack, that he had a house full of men. The people lived accelerated all the time. We were meeting each other there in the patios, and there on the trails. At night, we did not sleep, just waiting and watching. The union was always full. The people were always there. (28) In one of the meetings at the union, fazendeiro Nivaldo said to Garimpeiro: “You are the clever one who hunts for help in So Lus, aren’t you? So, you are going to see. I will put 3,000 cattle on that land and the cattle will eat you!” And Garimpeiro said: “We people are black, but we are not vultures to live in the air. The people need land. And I have seen a man with cattle in his mouth, but never cattle with a man in its mouth.” There was a time when Nivaldo and Gensio, his foreman, came to persecute us. The men were in roas. They went after our men. Cassiano [a Monte Alegre man] was coming back to the village to get food. He heard their pickup’s noise and jumped into the bushes to hide himself. (29) At this time, Nivaldo was continuing the work with the fences. He had already fenced all the area of the Centro; there was even a gate, and the work was quite advanced. Then the people got together and said: “What are we going to do? The only way is to plant roa right here and we will have to fight with the man” and people stayed imagining what they were going to do. The people were all together and worked only together. One day, people worked for someone, and another day for someone else. And the fazendeiros began to worry and rushed the job on the wires. And the people kept on planting roas. Everybody was afraid. All of a sudden the Toyota roared in and he came with his foremen. But later by the end he did not come anymore, as he also got scared. He sent a guy named Gensio, whom the people named “Gorgado Frog.” It was just a nickname, you know? He was a big black man with red eyes, so fat. (30) When we heard the Toyota’s sound, the women ran in fear. [I had two daughters and used to tell them to hide among the banana trees. I stayed at the door, watching. I thought: I am already an old woman, black and ugly. They will not want anything from me. They arrived, said good morning, and asked where my husband was. I said he was traveling. They said: “You tell him that when I come back here, I don’t want anybody here anymore.” Then I said: “That is fine; I will give him the message.” When the men arrived, we told them everything. Once, the Toyota made its noise close by my dad’s house. Then I ran from here to there. When I arrived there, the man was with the Toyota full of men, some around, fixing their rifles. And the man was talking to dad, making fun of the old man. I got an old machete and thought: “Here is to live or to die.” Then our boys arrived and stayed around, many of them also fixing their rifles. So, the man went on his way.]

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144 (31) The roas were not finished yet and we asked ourselves how it was going to be, because the man was already closing the fences with the people inside. Then it was said: “We are going to call everybody and push down this fence, because this is the time!” Because after they had fenced everything, it would turn into a property. There was a man working on the fence and the men [of Monte Alegre] ordered him to go away, and began to push down the fence. The first time, there were 80 men and the second time there were 150 men, who pushed down 8 km of fences. There was too much fence done. It was really about time. (32) The police from Livramento [a neighboring town] were preparing themselves to come here, because Nivaldo had already denounced the happening. The people said that the police would not come because they had heard that the people from here had put up trenches of all sorts. They said that we cut trees and blocked the roads so that the police could not pass. The police became angry and went to the union, to talk to Ivaldo [union’s president], saying that the people here had all sorts of guns, types of weapons that the people here had never even seen. So, Ivaldo said: “I know that there is not such a thing, because I know these people and it is not like that.” And he came here with the police. A colonel, a private, a lieutenant, and a bunch of soldiers came and camped there in the church. They gathered the people and began to interrogate. Because they wanted to catch the people, like this, in contradiction. They wanted the people to turn in who had instigated the action. And here came questioning! And the people: “No, here nobody instigated anybody. The incentive here was ours: we were here gathered in this chapel, and then, we thought what we were going to do, and the way we found was to push the wires down, and then, we went there to push the fence down!” and they: “No, there was at least a person here to instigate! This we already know!” and we: “No, no! The incentive was ours!” And they never found a wrong word in the mouth of the people. (33) Then, it passed on and onas the police had come and nothing had happened, the people cooled it down a little bit. But, when we least expected, they arrived, the same police showed up, with orders to throw the people out and pull down the houses. Many people were in the forest, going after babau nuts, at work. The women who were at home left to warn everybody to hide the tools, because the police were taking everything, machetes, knives, axes, not a scissor was left! Some women who were breaking babau, managed to hide their axes, but the police and foremen took everything else! (34) That day, the police ate on the chapel’s pulpit! They made everything dirty, messed up as much as they could. They came and laughed in our faces. Forced us to take everything from inside the houses, that they had orders to push down the houses. But in fact, they burned our houses. [The police themselves did not put fire, but watched the foremen burn the houses.] Virgin Mary! This was a day of suffering! And the men were forced to humiliate themselves, because they did not have anything, not even a working tool! (35) The weather was clear, but all of a sudden a cloud formed just there. They began to burn, but there came a monstrous rain, which wet all our things that were outside.

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145 People with mattresses, newborn little children. We spent the whole night wandering, without direction. My God in heaven! That was suffering! There were many cars here, crowds of people, police and foremen. There was a court officer. He even said not to open our mouths. We were not to take any action. We were to take our almost-nothing from the houses; that they would help: putting things on the truck and throwing them out there on the road. With the rain, everything became wet. The people were underneath that tree there. (36) But in the morning, even wet, they burned everything. They did something perverse. Pushing on the house’s corner with a tractor, they pushed it down. On that day that they burned the houses, people were spread all over, in crumbs, like a pile of people here, another pile there. We suffered in the hands of these men. And they said: “Here, there are vehicles here to take you to Santana de Adroaldo, Centro do Zzimo, Lima Campos.” And the people just watching everything turning into smoke. Nobody ate, just staying underneath the bushes, without knowing how, drunk with sleeplessness. This was on November 13 of 1979. (37) [I am not sure about how Haroldo Sabia – a lawyer linked to the social movements – ended up knowing that we were passing through this danger.] Now, after Haroldo Sabia began to face the struggle with us, the thing changed, because there was no more lack of companions to the people, and the fight always continued. Haroldo told us that he would spread the word and call the church by phone, and call someone else and someone else. On that morning, Haroldo had showed up. And there was a moment of great danger; it was when Haroldo was taking the court officer in his own car, back to town. And someone [the police went after Nivaldo at his fazenda] warned Nivaldo about that, and Nivaldo ran after him, with his Toyota, at gunpoint. Nivaldo reached Haroldo in Peritor [a town]. Nivaldo cut off Haroldo’s car with the Toyota, and with the gun in his hand, demanded that he give the court officer back. And Haroldo said: “I am not going to fight with you with a bullet, only with a pen,” and turned the officer over to him. But he did not give up. (38) On that same day that the houses were burned, already at 7 PM, Haroldo Sabia came back, with Ivaldo of the union and the judge, the very judge who had signed the order of the disgrace. She cried here. Jacinto of Claudionor [a Monte Alegre man] hit the judge on her head: “Let’s put this mule in the fire.” The women did not allow it but, with children in their arms, pressured her to ask if she was not a mother too. The judge hid in the car. (39) Because of Haroldo Sabia, the houses of Olho d’gua dos Grilos were not burned. [In that period, after God and the Virgin Mary, Haroldo was our salvation here, inside.] Since that day, many people came, Friar Jos, Friar Eurico, and many people who were not priests too. [Lawyers, journalists.] There were lots of donations, because the men had taken all the tools: if someone had a kilo of meat, one was forced to cook it as a whole piece because there was no knife in the village. There was a mutiro to rebuild the houses. People still walked around without knowing where they were, without knowing whether to have lunch,

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146 whether to have dinner, moved by the sleeplessness. But slowly everything stood up again. (40) [Then, since the day it was acknowledged to the other cities, people came to help, from So Lus, Bacabal, Pedreiras, Lima Campos, So Lus Gonzaga, all over this region. They brought kerosene, milk for the children, matches, sugar, rice, money. Friar Jos brought things. Even things from Santa Luzia do Paru were brought. Then the shelters were built, for the people to live. The people united, and they helped us. This all happened in 1979.] Reading the Narrative In this section, through the numbered paragraphs, I attempt to carry out an ethnographic reading of the elders’ narrative, while approaching the construction of gender, in the context of social relations forming a village. Throughout my reading, I attempt to answer the research question: “How are gender and other social relations transformed in times of conflict, struggle, and political resistance?” For the purposes of my ethnography, rather than checking for the reliability of the narrative against official historic accounts, or vice versa, it was more fruitful to carry out a reading aiming to understand how, why, by whom, and in which situations such representation was constructed in the way it was presented to me. Surely, throughout the years, I learned of other views related to the same history. For those not belonging to the families of the twelve blacks or to the descendants of the feitor’s descendant Zzimo, the “time of the elders’ order” may not be told in the same way. The elders’ discourses legitimizing a certain hierarchy, a specific order, and historical view was just one among several from different standpoints within Monte Alegre, suggesting multiple trajectories, and therefore, different views on the roads to be taken toward development. As a consequence, the expectations on the future “time of the projects” were also different, and aspirations based on multiple forms of gender relations.

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147 However, although partial, as the discourses varied according to each interlocutor, through the elders’ narrative, I believe we can learn the basic meanings of the language itself, because it expresses core concepts for the structure and functions of the village at the micro-level. Learning the basics of this “language” and listening to the diverse discourses expressing the numerous interpretations of it, I seek to understand the dynamics of the village. Here, the village can be explained as the set of trajectories that resulted from the dialectical forces between groups of former slaves and antagonistic sectors of society. These trajectories lived by each sector of the village present aspects that converge and diverge according to choices by the different actors. Nonetheless, although diverse, such choices are translated into everyday interactive practices connecting material and social realms, which hold Monte Alegre as the village it is in the present. The registered narrative is, therefore, a significant and valid effort by the elders to represent the village, and serves as a point of departure that should not eliminate other potentially valid efforts. Since my first visit, Dona Vitalina, her daughter Dona Nazir, and Dona Euzbia became my main guides, so to speak. Dona Vitalina’s is the first house I stop by, and where I usually am sheltered. Dona Euzbia became sick, and moved to live in town, “so it is easier to get the social security,” where I could still visit her twice before her death, years ago. I have experienced life in Monte Alegre always under the guidance of the elders, the old descendants of the first blacks who got the land, mostly the female leaders, so my interpretation of their narrative should be read from this perspective. Many authors have dealt with the limitations of attempts to read such narratives as “historical truths,” in analysis confined to boundaries defined by historical documents or

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148 monuments delimited by racial phenotypic marks or archaeological sites. According to Almeida (1999) the current state of research affairs in terras de preto demands further ethnographic work, and “a rupture” with the modalities of object apprehension circumscribed into history, archaeology, physical anthropology, and schools of thought that linked the issue to the notions of race and monumentality. Instead of historical determinism, a critical reading of the historical processes resulting in the current social mobilizations recalls ethnicity and political representation as concepts to be focused on, given continuous contexts of social conflicts. Through the narrative and my own observations, I learned that the core of their message was based on the political negotiations toward a way of life in which they were engaged throughout generations. The narrative is overall a statement of how multiple trajectories have been intertwined with a complex history, and often reversed and overturned during periods of conflict and struggle, and how this multi-faceted general history has been denied and made invisible. In terms of research based on narratives, analyzing interviews with descendants of slaves, Mattos (1998:122) worked on “the forms by which, in Brazil, the history of slavery and abolition were appropriated as objects of memory,” suggesting an examination of the relation between narrator and narrative, instead of checking for its historicity. She argues that the processes of definition of social identities and the memory of slavery were overall political processes. “It does not mean that the oral sources, or the so-called sources of memory in general, cannot provide important insights for the history of the last slaves after an emancipation, or even for a experience of the last slaves before the abolition It means, simply, that any approach to the so-called sources of memory (life history interviews, autobiographies, etc.), which does not take into account its

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149 eminently political sense (in its broad sense) will be limited, to a greater or a lesser degree, to dated and partial models of appropriation of the past” (1998:126). Indeed, it is not the objective of my chapter to check with some sort of official accountings whether slaves used in fact to iron their clothes on Sundays, or whether women delivered in hospitals, 5 or whether a trip to Europe at the time took, in fact, six months, to accept or reject the narrative as valid data. Were there in fact twelve blacks or is it just a mythical, apostolic number, since they mentioned only Tiago, Ipolito, Valeriana, Cizina, Chica Castro, Cantdia, and Chica Maria? My interest here is to understand how and why the myth worked in the way it did, and to know what was the significance for gender relations to represent women in these positions. The evidences I gathered at the local church archives and public notaries worked therefore as supporting materials, additional resources obtained from different perspectives, registered in other forms by other subjects, to help understand the concepts emanated from the narratives or allegories, from the direct and participant observations, and other empirical evidences. Adopting a broad sense of political as the negotiations among social segments with power differentials, the representation by the elders offers powerful explanatory instruments to understand the formation of a village in a context of strong social tension and conflicts, and the construction and transformations of gender in this realm. It is important to remember that, although two male elders were present during the interviews, the female elders dominated the narrative, conducted within the house, a female domain, so one needs to be aware that even among the elders, our reading must be practiced 5 I believe that what is called hospital here refers to houses, named also as “casa grande” where “mothers and children could sleep separately.” Fazenda Cancelar, owned by a French master, in So Lus Gonzaga had one of these houses (Parquia de So Lus Gonzaga 1990).

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150 within specific circumscriptions. As we will see later, many male head of households in Monte Alegre had different views from that of the female elders. In spite of the diversity of contexts and situations, there are commonalities among certain depositions by the descendants of slaves throughout Brazil, and they support our proper reading. Women as the guardians of the oral history is one of them, 6 which was also observed in the other two terras de preto I have researched: Santo Antnio dos Sardinhas and Olho d’gua dos Grilos. “My grandmother used to tell me ” (1). In the three cases, these female history holders were also linked to the history of access to the land, implying central roles in the formation of the village, in situations in which a relatively favored relationship with a master is contrasted with the whole unfairness of the slavery context. This would be a second commonality: the narratives come from those in positions of relative closeness to the masters’ family, either by their position as household servants or by their leadership over the other slaves or both, suggesting possibilities as negotiators. Through these interlocutors, we obtain a third commonality, often called the myth of the good master. “But my grandmother Valeriana Parga told me that the white, her master, was not that bad. They beat indeed, but much less than others. There were the bad ones who took the skin off the backs” (2). In the narrative of dona Jota, from the neighboring village of Olho d’gua dos Grilos, the master Zidorinho and her ancestors, the Gomes and Grilo families, were also portrayed in a reasonable relationship: “There was a white in So Lus [capital]. So, the white asked my great grandparents back then, if they did not want to live here, to domesticate the land and live, to live and work. The white who gave them this land to domesticate was 6 See “A Minha Me era Escrava, Eu No,” a report presented to the Centro de Estudos Afro-Asiticos, for the project “Memrias do Cativeiro” of LABHOI, UFF, Rio de Janeiro, 1996, by Rios, Ana Maria Lugo.

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151 named Zidorinho he never gave them the land document, but he always said: the land is yours he came every year, to get them [the loads of tobacco], but it was not saying that they were paying rent, but it was a gift they offered him I saw dona Severina saying that when seu Zidorinho came, whatever they had, chickens, tobacco, rice, whatever they had, seu Zidorinho took as a gift. And always saying: the land is yours.” These relations were apparently always between the white and one outstanding black, or his/her family or related group, not with a whole, uniform group of slaves. According to Mattos (1998), the representation of a privileged relationship may be seen as a form to deal with the imposed dehumanization or commoditization of their lives as things or animals, mentioned in examples such as “people were sold just like selling limes” (5) and “he used to do away with nests of blacks” (19). In her analysis, Mattos interpreted these coinciding pieces in the narratives gathered in diverse contexts as “personalized alternatives to rupture with a condition of absolute absence of rights through the acquisition of personal rights or privileges. In this context, abolition meant a definitive transformation of these privileges effectively into rights. To the man, above all, it meant the right to control his own body and to command the work of the family” (Mattos 1998:136). To the woman, the right to control her own body would not come with abolition, but many women, just like Maria Pretinho and Valeriana (7), assumed the control of their children and respective labor, negotiating with members of the dominating sector, still ruling commerce and means to access land and forest resources, the establishment of their families on unclaimed lands. As we will discuss later, the control over children led to an intergenerational gender relation that strongly influenced the specificities of the construction of gender in the Mearim valley. In my fieldwork, I gathered representations of experiences at the individual level relativizing the antagonisms with the dominant sector, in a process that could resemble

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152 the myth of the good master. But, rather than a myth in the sense of “not real,” myth here means the explanation of a reality: a reality chosen within the alternatives available to the subject. And in this explanation, the narrators of Monte Alegre, Vitalina and Euzbia tell that Valeriana had told them, and she did not “need to [demonize] her opponent: her master appears in the story as a full human being, with a name and a character” (Carvalho 1996:448). The myth of the good master then can be seen as a tool in a strategic political negotiation to deal with the absurdities of slavery, and therefore, “the good master” is not necessarily a false consciousness, but a choice of representation within a field of strategic possibilities. In these representations, women who had relative proximity to the master’s family, had a central role in processes of negotiation. Through the first books registering baptisms in So Lus Gonzaga since 1856, I was able to learn of a pattern of slaves having other slaves as godparents, while there were cases in which slave mothers, especially the slaves of the mistress, could arrange for fazendeiros to be godparents of their children. Compadrios and friendships would establish the grounds in which these negotiations characterized as “individual privileges” by Mattos could occur. Through the narrative of dona Jota of Olho d’gua dos Grilos, we can learn about the friendship between a slave, Pio Gomes and a landlord, Zidorinho, allowing access to land. Through the narrative of dona Euzbia and dona Vitalina, Captain Vertiniano was a godfather and compadre of many, and favored them by selling the land to twelve former slaves (12). Similar situations of privileged relations occurred in fazenda Santo Antonio dos Sardinhas in the municipality of Lima Campos, with the Sardinhas and Baymas. 7 Another 7 The fazenda Santo Antonio (later known as Santo Antonio dos Sardinha village) was dismembered by the white Antonio Sardinha from the fazenda So Francisco (later known as

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153 example is the former fazenda Uruguaiana in Lago do Junco, a fourth terra de preto in the study area, with the Vianas. 8 One interpretation of these narratives would be that the narrators, the descendants of the privileged protagonists, individuals or families, were keeping the myth of the good master alive, to maintain the benefits of their privileged position. In this case, this could be interpreted as false consciousness of the narrators. However, although aware that personal linkages are often employed to vitiate oppression, findings in my ethnographic fieldwork induce a different interpretation. First, in the three villages studied, the represented privilege was related to access to land, and such access was not individually fulfilled, but was meaningful only when collectively appropriated. That means that, although the access to the land was achieved through one individual or one family, the full realization of the appropriation of the privilege was usually collective, and involved specific assignments related to both genders. “Twelve” blacks mentioned, the men: Ipolito and Tiago, and the women: Chica Castro, Cizina, Chica Maria, Cantdia and Valeriana, negotiated with captain Vertiniano and obtained access to land, but to prevail in the acquired territory and survive economically without getting into debt traps, “there were almost 200 families. Here was a place of lots of people. Streets of houses were everywhere, many more than today. At that time, one Bom Jesus village), belonging to the white Francisco Marques da Costa Branco. Antonio Sardinha had a feitor named Geraldo Sardinha, who was the grandfather of Onero Sardinha, and greatgrandfather of Geraldo Rosa, leaders in the village of Santo Antonio dos Sardinhas. Eduardo Bayma (the son of Brgida, a slave woman -a feitora -and her white master Espiridio) came from Cod and assumed leadership roles in the village. In the history of Santo Antonio dos Sardinhas, leading women were Beatriz, Cipriana, Ful, Fatira and Sinoa. 8 After abolition, the mulatto elder Manoel Viana assumed the command of about a hundred former slaves, and his leadership continued through his son Valdomiro, until all the elders died, and the descendants left the area for the town of Bacabal. “Manoel Viana was a mulatto old man, dominava com a pretalhada todinha (he commanded all the blacks). His black mother was more than hundred years old when she died. They used to make drums out of logs, named punga. [These drum parties] lasted three or more days” (non-black interviewee Joo Vitria, povoado Ludovico).

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154 could produce more than 600 alqueires of rice, without borrowing money from others” (14). Therefore, the personal and privileged character of the relationship is meshed with a notion of collectivity, necessary to the formation of a village, 9 and the gender relations involved in such a formation are more complex than the simple assumption of women in outstanding positions. Rather than a disorderly mass of former slaves in the absence of masters, the narratives assure the expression of a coordinated system, whose hierarchy was far from romantic quasi-egalitarian relations, but was surely not based on capitalist relations either. Throughout several narratives, I learned that not only economic, but also gender and intergenerational relations, and relations defining positions in the rituals and overall symbolism representing peasant ways of life were integral parts of a specific social organization. The reference to the leaders’ mothers is a constant, suggesting mentoring and executive powers shared between genders and generations. As the narrators tell it, there are indications of differentiated roles assigned to each gender. In the narrative, Valeriana is, in the mouth of the enunciators and to the ears of this community of listeners, the main protagonist and history holder, but it is her brother who gets out of the ship to encounter the whites of the land without black slaves (5). In the same way, the women Nazir, Vitalina, and Dij are the recognized mentors and 9 According to dona Francisca, from Monte Verde, a village founded by Northeastern immigrants, this notion of collectivity in the appropriation of land to form a village was not exclusive of the land of the blacks, but common to the peasantry formed in Maranho: “My grandparents did not want to stay there (Pernambuco) because it was too difficult to work there, just to get the bread of each day, working far from home, the rice did not grow, only beans and cassava. There, they worked with pineapple and sugar cane; there, it was a landlord’s land. Nobody else but my father had land, so he accompanied his relatives who were coming to Maranho.” As only her father had access to land, he needed to join the others and migrate, because the land he had alone had lost its social meaning.

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155 protagonists of the land conflict, but they sent the men Juarez, Garimpeiro and Mundico to the authorities (22, 25). In negotiating with them, the men were not mere spokesmen of the women, but took decisions as well (28, 31). The narrative does not allow reductionisms and simplifications of clear-cut roles for men and women, as if there were nonsituational defined gender roles for each ethnic group. In sum, the narrators tell about male or female protagonists of acts seen as individual, but that are reflected in and worked through the collectivity; they express performances according to socially defined rules, but in every act, their own agencies are present in the interpretation of these rules driving their choices. Therefore, these choices cannot be simply categorized as variables, by men and by women, in a fixed table, to define gender. Rather, within a field of strategic possibilities, the dispersion of points of choice by men and women define trajectories that, although diverse, can intertwine themselves to form the fabric and the history of a village. The narrative is therefore to be read as a representation emerged from this complexity, in which diverse gender relations were combined and evolved to form a village through time. Time of captivity The narrative, as the purposeful representation of a reality, time and space imbued, allows the repositioning of the narrator and listener from their original standpoints. Implicit in my interests in that specific village circumscribed in the lands of Monte Alegre were preconceived models of resistance, with victimized women, suffering and enduring male dominance at all levels. I expected environmental conservation as a result of social relations, including gender, in a traditional, rooted, and closed community of African descendants. Responding to what I wanted to hear, the musicality of the narrative in their unique Portuguese of Maranho’s villages worked as a hypnotic enchantment.

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156 But, reading the narrative woke me up to realize three aspects of gender construction in Monte Alegre: 1) women were relevant and not rare political protagonists, and both men and women had different mentoring and active roles in the narrative; 2) male/female and dominant/subordinated dyads were dynamically repositioned according to the type of social relation in which the actors were engaged in the different stages of the narrative; and 3) relations beyond intrafazenda and those between the master and his slaves defined the narrative. It was unexpected, then, that from the very beginning, in the time of captivity, the narrative departs from closed Monte Alegre, and opens up to be placed within a set of fazendas: Santana, So Joo, Santa Izabel, Olho d’gua, and Montevidu (2, 7, 12, 25). The mention of those who “get lost in life” for their cruelty (either a woman or a man), and those who were “not so bad” (2,4) indicates the possibilities and impossibilities to negotiate relations in the time of captivity, but negotiations not circumscribed to a single fazenda. The fear of being sold to far away, disaggregating families (whose members could live in different but neighboring fazendas), demanded relations between masters and slaves beyond the limits of a fazenda. “because at that time, people were sold just like selling limes. At that time people lived under coercion” (5). As we will see in chapter 4, the book registering baptisms in So Lus Gonzaga since 1856 shows a consistent network of master and slaves connecting fazendas through compadrios, a nonbiologically based form of kinship. A fazenda, and later a village, is not what it is by itself, but what it is in relation to other villages and to other entities beyond its social and environmental boundaries. The gender of Valeriana was not only defined among the blacks themselves, but also emerged

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157 from relations between slaves and masters, who were related to different lands and natural resources. Within a system in which certain social categories lived under coercion exerted by other categories, intensive negotiations were involved in the construction of the peasantry and its gender relations, and such negotiations were not confined within the containing structures: fazenda and slavery economic system. The construction of Valeriana as a woman, therefore, involved a notion of territoriality, connecting her to other peoples and resources (Figure 3-2). As Kearney points out, “the methodological practice of delimiting a single bounded community as the site of research was the dominant mode in which the conventional anthropological image of ‘the peasant’ was formed and doubtlessly contributed to the narrow definition of the peasant in terms of the domestic sphere” (1996:88). The peasant, and even less the black peasant woman, represented in the narrative was surely neither confined to the domestic sphere, nor to a single fazenda, or later, village. Rather, the many moves of Valeriana (5, 6, 7) signal views broader than the limits of a fazenda and even a municipality. As Valeriana’s last master was Mundico Onrio of fazenda Santa Izabel (7), and she was living in Lapinha with her children even before the time of abolition, how was it that she achieved access to the lands of Monte Alegre of master Vertiniano? Valeriana had children with Ipolito Parga, one of Vertiniano’s slaves, and was herself related to Vertiniano through her mother’s relations with him, as we will see in Chapter 4. The narrative and archival research suggest relationships among slaves and masters interconnecting different fazendas, and propose more comprehensive elements and relations in the constitution of a village and of being a peasant, and a woman or a man.

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158 Santa Isabel Figure 3-2. Map of So Lus Gonzaga in 2000, in the detail, blue lines represent igaraps and rivers, darker black lines are main dirt roads, lighter black lines are secondary dirt roads, houses are black little squares, and red dots represent the connected fazendas and localities mentioned in the narrative (c. 1880). Source: IBGE

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159 I am using the word peasant here because in the narrative there were indications that, in the realm of these fazendas, a peasant economy existed not in parallel, not as an integral, and therefore, controllable part of slave economy, but as a distinct economy actively articulated with the slave economy. I am referring to peasant economy in the sense of a production of roa (for direct subsistence and trade to sustain subsistence) based on labor organized by the slave families themselves, an emergent form of trabalho livre, although conditioned by the time and space dictated by the master. Although I am not very comfortable with Mintz’s term proto-peasantry, because of its biological, evolutionist connotation, what I observed in the field was very like his conclusions: “what had begun as a technique for saving the planters the costs of supplying their slaves with food had had then become an essential basis for the food supply of the nonslave populationwere almost entirely provisioned by the slaves, working on their own time. On the one day per week that slaves were grudgingly given for themselves, their behavior on their little garden plots completely contradicted the planters’ insistent claims that ‘stupid, lazy savages’ were incapable of working intelligently for themselves” (Mintz 1985: 134). In those years when Vertianiano’s fazenda was still running, the slaves took “care of their own things, to get everything ready. The blacks worked for themselves only on Sundays” (3). The narrative provides a clear distinction between “blacks had to take care of the master’s services” and “the blacks worked for themselves” (3). Being subject to time and place constraints (e.g. worst soils and location, late season, etc.), men and women had to establish a more shared and difficult-to-predict gender division of labor. Later, as the economic context for these fazendas worsened, slaves were pretty much left

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160 by themselves, slave owners coming just to get whatever they could extract from them, allowing a period to consolidate a way of life based on trabalho livre. However, even today, women in terra de preto are considered to work more in roa as compared to women in other villages of the valley. Beginning in 1819 the prices for cotton were in decline, having a lucrative period during the U.S. civil war (1861-1865), to be beaten by American competitors after 1872 (Almeida 1999). In addition, the Southern Brazilian states had advanced to better positions within the interregional economic disparity, offering better comparative advantages for foreign investments. Therefore, as Monte Alegre was established by the end of the 1850s, it may have experienced some success, but soon declining economies were again haunting the so-called lavradores. 10 The prices of cotton and sugar and their export in 1886-1887 were increasingly low, and taxes high (Annais do Congresso 1888). It was in this period that slaves in the Mearim valley got increasingly involved with their own roas, instead of laboring on cotton production, and masters such as Zidorinho preferred to live somewhere else, and come to take tobacco, chickens, whatever they had “as gifts.” Captain Vertiniano still owned, but probably no longer resided in his fazenda Monte Alegre. This suggests that new modalities of labor relations may have emerged, as slavery in its conventional form was no longer viable, and strictly capitalist enterprises were not introduced yet. Slaves in different situations experienced new forms of labor, and therefore, of gender relations. There were social situations in which these differences were expressed in territorialities, demarcated by self-controlled roas, such as Valeriana Parga, who was a

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161 slave of Mundico Onrio, with established relations with Captain Vertiniano, and living with her children in Lapinha, even before abolition (7). According to Almeida, these relatively autonomous economic units were not exceptional cases, especially in that period in which decadence of cotton was spread throughout the fazendas in the Mearim valley. He goes further, affirming that these territories, seen as nuclei of resistance, are related to a revised concept of quilombos (1999). The demands of current social movements and of more critical readings of the processes involving black resistance have challenged the limitations imposed by archaeological and official historical constraints. According to Almeida, current research requires a more politicized approach to the concept of quilombo (Almeida 1999). This approach should include other forms of nonrecognized political resistance, which also assured black peasants’ ways of life. In this sense, terras de preto, which were never recognized as a special category of land appropriation, would have rights of quilombo. A letter sent to me in October 2001 by dona Dij, the same who articulated the struggle of Monte Alegre, confirms the idea: “Noemi, will the government never recognize our land as of remnants of quilombo? Aunt Vitalina said that this would be her greatest happiness, to see this dream to come true before she dies.” 11 Gender relations in the time of the captivity. At any rate, significant relations linked slaves and masters from different fazendas, through their roas and cotton farms, with the ups and downs of international markets, which would influence the later constitution of peasant villages, and the construction of gender in the time of the 10 At that period the term lavrador represented what the term fazendeiro represents today: an estate owner with all its social and economic implications. Currently, the term lavrador represents rural workers, peasants in agricultural actitivities. 11 Letter by dona Maria de Jesus “Dij” Bringelo, received in October 2001.

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162 captivity. These relations were surely not only between male slaves and masters, but also between female slaves and masters of both sexes, involving women in extra-domestic political negotiations. The gender relations in transformation here are the relations involving men and women in the delineation of their territories and the formation of a specific type of labor, trabalho livre. This transformation was not granted by abolition, but was already in course in the trajectories intertwined through the negotiations among and between slaves and masters. Time of “being owner of one’s self” In the transition from the “time of captivity” to “when freedom was proclaimed,” there was the establishment of a new order. “Each one became owner of one’s self, to take care of one’s own work” (7) is the literal description of trabalho livre, in which each person is free because their labor is free. And yet, while in the total history of Brazil, “free labor,” in a capitalist market sense, was in construction, in the general history of the Mearim valley, trabalho livre was built as a disruption, a discontinuity in that passage from slavery to the society of classes. Although one became owner of one’s self, becoming what the authorities sanctioned as “free laborers for a free market”, they resisted that automatic, authorized passage from slave to proletarian, as they were able to form a social body based on a peasant economic mode: a village, under the order of the elders. In the formation of the village of Monte Alegre, instead of the negation of the ruling social order of the white, establishing their own as in a conventional quilombo, the elders’ representation indicates strategies of legitimization of their specific rights (already

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163 achieved through compadrios and other interfazendas relations) 12 through instruments familiar to the dominant sector. The account goes that the land was transferred by a purchasing contract between the white and the blacks (8, 11), “and the blacks signed yes” (8), materialized on paper (9, 11), a legal document obtained through payment. In the narrative, as abolition was made official, Captain Vertiniano made an agreement with the twelve blacks to sell them his decadent fazenda, as he had moved to Caxias, where the former feitor Zidoro took him the payments for the land, and in turn, received what is designated by the interviewees as ‘the paper.’ 13 In my search for supporting documentation in the notary office in Caxias, the public notary confirmed that Vertiniano indeed had an urban property on the Right Street in Caxias in that period. In the notary office in So Lus Gonzaga, the notary confirmed to dona Dij that Zzimo was able to settle this matter, becoming the owner of Monte Alegre. Further search is necessary, but indications are that Vertiniano received payments, might have given an informal “paper,” a receipt, and did not provide any legal assurances for his twelve so-to-speak protges. At any rate, the importance of the signature and piece of paper, institutions alien to their own social group, is a commonality in other villages. 14 The 12 For example, agreements made between masters: “The white of Bom Jesus agreed with Sardinha [the white of Santo Antonio] that if a black was not doing fine in Bom Jesus, s/he could leave for Santo Antonio.” 13 Throughout my research, the figure of ‘the paper’ emerged several times. More than a search for evidences of existence of a “real” paper, I considered it as a symbol born from the negotiations between dominant and dominated, because either imaginary, a faade or material, this is what was represented to validate their transactions. The symbolism of ‘the paper’ persists even when the validity of a document is out of date for the dominant part. For example, although currently freedom of cult is legally guaranteed, seu Romo still maintains a license to operate his salo, referring to the time African based cults were police matters. “Out of places demarcated by the competent authorities, it is prohibited the stomps, songs and dances of blacks. To the transgressors, five days in prison and ten in the recurrence (Law 225/1846). 14 Similarly, in the narrative by the slave descendants about Curia, a terra de preto in Amap, the significance attributed to an alleged land document, the “paper,” explains the distinctions between inheritors and non-inheritors. “Francisco Incio [a slave] documented the land on his

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164 acquisition and loss of these instruments are insistently detailed, as a form to legitimize them as valid transactions to assure the land (9, 11, 15). My interpretation is that, the “paper” symbolizes an effort to overcome domination and assure a self-controlled social existence, but in articulation with the dominant system surrounding them. Another aspect to consider is that, in spite of this integration between the individual “privileges” and the consolidation through a collectivity discussed in the earlier section, the maintenance of the “twelve blacks” as central actors and the “legal” character of their transactions seem instrumental in establishing and explaining the village organization and hierarchy. “And there was an order, which the elders ruled” (11). Such order held together the functioning of the hierarchical structure of the village: the chief, the eldest among the twelve black men and women who signed yes (8, 10), followed by the former foreman (9), and the other “almost 200 families,” healthy and sick (10,14). Such a structuring categorization, however, was not defined by money: “nobody classified anybody, who had money, who had not” (14). Also, even the distinction between those twelve who had bought the land, and Leo, who “was not supposed to have any rights since he was a foreman, and he was black” was relativized in that “the blacks left everything in his hands” including the land document (9). The narrative tells that this order assured abundance in production and commercialization, not only in rice and other grains, but also in cattle raising and hunting. “The meat became gray (too old) in the rope, because the people could not eat it own name, and only later, when the family grew, Manoel Incio [his brother] found out the document inside a chest and Manoel Rosa [his nephew] informed the others that they did not have any part [on the land]. The inheritors then appeared” (booklet by Sebastio Menezes da Silva, publication date unknown, Fundao Estadual de Cultura do Amap).

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165 all” 15 (Vitalina, 85 year old). However, rather than money or privileged relations with a former master only, there is an implicit order and positioning achieved by either a man or a woman’s political ability: to command internally, and successfully articulate the village with the surrounding society, dealing with the acquisition of the land, and the commercialization of their products. As Valeriana’s last master was the owner of Santa Izabel, “the women went to harvest cotton at Santa Izabel, to pay for this deal”(8). “From all this abundance, we ate and sold in Pedreiras, Ipixuna, putting aside a sum of money, which Zidoro [descendant of the black foreman] told us was to pay the land taxes” (14). “And as Zidoro could plan more and everybody trusted him, the land document was in his hands” (11). The reference to legal instruments is reinforced over and over. Even the unfortunate transaction between Zidoro and his nephew Zzimo involved the “robbery” of the so-called “paper” and a payment, the old mule, which was somehow recognized. “So, it began to be said that Monte Alegre was Zzimo’s” (16). Such a strategy involving instruments acceptable to the white post-abolition society may be seen as a form of resistance and articulation with the dominant order, for it intended to protect the integrity of the village and a way of life, which were perceived as intrinsically linked to the land, within its broader realms. The social order then was certainly not completely harmonious (11). However, even when internal conflicts arose, as “everybody was forced to pay the rent to Zzimo” and humiliating, “he expelled some, sent others away” (15), the village was still under a certain control because, “Zzimo himself, even though many had tried so hard to convince him, he himself did not sell the land” (18). My interpretation is that, since they could still access the land and maintain the village through trabalho livre, the “formal” 15 Meat was preserved by salt and sun drying, hung on ropes.

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166 land ownership or the fact that the “paper” was in Zzimo’s hands did not matter so much, because it was the form through which Monte Alegre was articulated with the current dominant society. 16 Besides, those who were sent away surely were not among the families of the twelve blacks (17), and a relative order and safety was maintained against the whites’ cativeiro. As time passed, however, the strategy of adopting and adapting the oppressors’ categories ended up being as vulnerable as that of the “open” resistance or quilombos, as the land ended up under great risk of being taken from the village. In one point of the narrative, the use of categories alien to their way of life, as a strategy to articulate it to the rest of the society, is made clear: “And when Zzimo died, he did not clear the conscience of his children, leaving his children as owners” (16). Although for the group, individual land ownership was not a factual category, in the unclear “conscience” of his children, such a strategy became a reality, turning them into de facto owners, able to sell the land (18). In that time span of almost 100 years, from abolition and the fall of empire to the rise of republic, disruptive histories were running among the diverse sectors in the village, affecting views of land and properties. Other blacks entered Monte Alegre as moradores, residents, because sectors among the black Pargas lived as if land was not supposed to be owned in the legal sense of the term, while other black Pargas with unclear “conscience” decided to assure their rights according to the current laws. Whatever Zzimo arranged with the notary office, based on receipts from Vertiniano, 16 I did not research gender issues related to land and property rights. However, although women have not expressed the practical need to formally own the land, leaders have suggested that owning land is a political strategy aiming to foment gender awareness. For land and property rights in Latin America, see Deere and Len, 2001. Empowering Women.

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167 when Esperana went to the notary office (17), and when she and other heirs of Zzimo decided to sell the land, the notary office considered it as Zzimo’s legacy, his private property. Therefore, in 1977, the land was sold to a cattle-raising enterprise, CANEMA – Companhia Agropecuria do Meio Norte, 17 administrated by Nivaldo Bueno Mendes. With such divergent views on the land, either with clear or unclear conscience, could we say there was indeed a peasant village? We can see that blackness, ascendancy or gender were not what defined a common perception of its boundaries. What is a village after all? Is it the physical land demarcated by Captain Vertiniano? Is it the descendants of the elected twelve people living on it? Is it just an ideational “collective consciousness” that holds members of a social group together? 18 Or is it the social relations driven by these ideas, carried out by the people on that specific land? The narrative of the elders of Monte Alegre shows that a village is the integration of all these. The full concretization of a village was about having oranges, planting beans, selling rice (13, 14), but also the plain consciousness that they had attained the right over land of their own. “Monte Alegre is of the blacks” (9). Indeed, for beyond an inherent collective conscience, looking at what had triggered such a consciousness, in that year of 1978, was that “they prohibited us to plant our roas here” (20), which not even the master had done in the tempo de cativeiro, time of captivity, as at least on Sundays, they took care of their own work (3). They even attempted to plant roas elsewhere (20), implying that access to land without formal 17 Such enterprise was composed by: Ocidental Sociedade de Participaes de Comrcio e Indstria, Pioneira de Borrachas Ltda., Curinga dos Pneus Ltda., EMOSA Engenharia S/A, Hely W.Couto, Roberto Curi and others, all originally from Braslia. A document at INCRA shows that in September of 1979, a couple of months before the conflict, Zzimo’s descendants sold 1,495 ha out of 2,997.8 ha to Adhemar Paoliello Freire, a dental surgeon, and other entrepreneurs from Braslia.

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168 tenure was acceptable, since roas could still be successful, and sustaining control over their own labor. “But to plant roa outside was not working out. The people had tried, and they could not get anything out of it” (21). Therefore, it was only when trabalho livre, materialized through a unique mode of production based on roa, was threatened, that “we saw that everything was wrong, because we knew and were conscious that we had the rights, so we kept thinking” (21). Monte Alegre as a village, therefore, can be seen as this realm of material, social and ideational parts put together not only by a sequence of historical events, but also by the power of knowledge that resulted from choices of its members, as in “we knew and were conscious that we had the right” (21). These choices were translated into the disruptive practice of roa even when Nivaldo, CAMENA’s manager had prohibited them (29). In a context of such social antagonisms, this knowledge was essential to the full realization and existence of the village. Gender relations in the time of “being owner of one’s self”. Here we learn of the imperative merging of ideational and material worlds concretized in ways of life embraced by a social group constituting a village. Yet, a village is not formed by genderless members, but by the relations among men and women who hold differentiated knowledge and powers. This differentiation is embedded in the very social construction of a member of the village as a woman or a man. Therefore, the transformations of gender here cannot dissociate being a woman or a man from being a former slave, a member of a village, a person struggling for freedom through trabalho livre, in a land ruled by the order of the elders. More importantly, the transformation of gender cannot be dissociated from the choices made by the subjects throughout the time of struggle. 18 See Durkheim’s (1965). The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life.

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169 Time of struggle The struggle, which allowed the survival of the village, and was overall the ultimate political expression of its existence, was not only about the 80, and then 150 men, pushing the fences down (31), but “the struggle began inside here” (21), “there, underneath that tree, in that camar bush, the three women alone” (22). Women who knew and were conscious that “This is my place. Nobody will take me from here. Here is where I am going to stay” (21). My interpretation of Dona Vitalina’s statement is related to Escobar’s (2001) discussion on the politics of place, in which the way people construct and struggle for their meanings of place is a strategy for social transformation. For Dona Vitalina and Dona Euzbia, place was so important that, in their history making, they use the term place and people interchangeably: “By the time this place was freed” (8). Escobar mentions Spinoza, Flores and Dreyfus (1997), who found that “history-making skills linked to an attachment to place and stable identities have not disappeared, and may be creatively recuperated” (Escobar 2001:167). This narrative creatively recuperated by the women as history makers offers the adequate visibility on the transformations on gender and other social relations. In the time of struggle, the politics of place was indeed in its full expression. However, the boundaries of these places were surely not defined by fazendas and fazendeiros, but politically demarcated by different strategic venues taken by the villagers. While the twelve former slaves of Monte Alegre had purchased the land, Olho d’gua relied on the fact that the old master Zidorinho just stopped coming to get more “gifts.” The differences in the village trajectories brought up a certain rivalry. However, in times of conflict and struggle, while the territoriality of the village was clearly demarcated by limits of respect delineated by roas, the social boundaries of a village

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170 presented a dynamic mobility. In the situations of the time of the struggle, for example, the narrative let the “dream” of Noza, who belonged to the Parga family but lived in the neighboring Olho d’gua, another terra de preto (25), blur the rivalry delimiting the two villages. Women served then as links to connected otherwise discontinuous trajectories. Another example, in the time of the struggle, the union in town became also the village’s place: “the people were always there” (27,) because within those walls, the village acquired another power of knowledge, that of unionized people, who then “pressured him [fazendeiro] so much that he became crazy” (27). Selectively expanding and contracting its boundary over a politically demarcated time, Monte Alegre became the village it is now. Therefore, the boundaries that delimited the village in the time of struggle were not only related to the material and social elements within it, but also to elements obtained in their relations with society in general. And in this stage, the public could see the trucks arriving the town “full of men and women” (26), attending public hearings and put in jail. So, gender was constructed not only by how people within the village ascribed woman and man, but also how they were ascribed by the outsiders who consented in the public placement of both men and women as criminals. Meanwhile, “the fazendeiro sold 300 cows to buy the judge, the police and authorities” and the “governor Joo Castelo” supported him (Parquia de So Lus Gonzaga 1990). In these clashes, the view of women as confined to domestic realms was publicly broken. In addition to places, the historical path taken by the people led to a whole rearranging of the structure that the elders refer to as the one existing as a frozen order “at that time” (10). That sense of hierarchy ruled by the elders remained, but now relativized by other emergent hierarchies. As people were “meeting each other there in the patios,

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171 and there on the trails” (27,) powers were transferred and orders transformed. In the time of struggle, a new configuration of powers was expressed, challenging former logics and orders and privileging some categories in detriment of the others. There are many examples of these transformations. Garimpeiro, a gold miner who was a mulatto of the Camelo family, and not a descendant of the twelve Parga blacks, was one who assumed leadership and challenged the oppressor. He was the one who broke with the prohibition of planting roas, and led the pulling down of the fences. Viewed by the rational capitalist as a backward peasant and primitive rebel, Garimpeiro taught him a lesson against animism, as he never saw “cattle with a man in its mouth” (28). Meanwhile, the elders Joo Paulo and Luiso, who ruled the village in so orderly a manner that there was no one to disagree with them (10), opted to submit themselves to the pretense landlord, and warned: “Those who made any move were hunting for a bullet in their foreheads” (22). Later, the fazendeiro’s foremen ridiculed them (30). Although the term black remained a symbol of self-identity, dark skin color was not the trademark of the fighters, as the enemy’s foreman, Gorgado Frog, was black (30), and non blacks had already joined the terra de preto, facing the struggle and assuming the identity of the blacks as one. Contradictorily, in attempting to re-order the disorder, the police strategy was to individualize what the village had made as a people, and to find the “truth” by pressuring the people. The rightful “truth” for the police was, however, turned into falsehood for the villagers, as “they never found a wrong word in the mouth of the people” (32). Even religion was turned upside down, as the blacks were taken aback by the whites, who disrespected the whites’ church, placed there to substitute for the blacks’ terreiro de

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172 umbanda (34). Even the priest of Bacabal got involved to support the fazendeiro (Parquia de So Lus Gonzaga 1990). The policeman was the one to warn the fazendeiro, and it was this perpetrator who went, gun in hand, after the lawyer and the court officer (37). Gender roles and symbols were also reversed: women still had their axes, while men were left without any weapon or tool (33). In the new (dis) order, being an “old, black, and ugly woman” (30) was safer than being a young, strong man (34). Through these disruptions, gender relations were transformed. My point here in eliciting all these reversals is that the construction of a village may involve also chaos and the apparent destruction or reversal of the so-called traditional. However, the disruption of a neat structural-functionalist order does not mean necessarily its end as an anthropological object; rather it indicates the rebirth of a people with a baptism of fire and rain (34, 35, 36). Gender in the time of the struggle. To make sense of the process Monte Alegre had to pass through, oppressed by landlords, police, and courts, we need to understand the dynamic transformations through which Monte Alegre was reconfigured as a village. And in this village, changes in gender relations were a significant part throughout the process. In the time of struggle, it become clear that neither sex as a biological category defines gender as a relation, nor does race define terra de preto as a village. It was a black woman, Esperana, the feitor’s descendant, who first decided to sell the land (17). There were black women who abandoned Monte Alegre without contest, while other blacks and non blacks remained and fought for it (21). The male black elders recommended subordination (22), while younger males directed by the leading women had active roles in the rebellion (22, 25). The same inadequacy to generalize women as

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173 subordinated or victimized in every and any situation is observed among other social categories. As in the cases of the female lawyer from INCRA, who affirmed to be a woman from the waistline down, and a man from the waistline up (26), the female judge Maria das Graas D. Mendes, who ordered the destruction of the houses, in spite of being a mother (38), and the landlady Jansen who was so bad that she lost herself in life (2). Gender relations were, rather, dynamically defined according to configurations designed by sequences of political negotiations, driven by the interaction among agency, social relations, and ethnically assigned gender rules. These transformations can be seen through the sequence: In the time of captivity, they were engaged in interfazenda relations to form themselves as a people. In the time of “being the owner of one’s self,” they engaged in intravillage relations to make the land a social place. In the time of struggle, they engaged in relations with the antagonistic society to fight for their terra de preto. Therefore, through these ‘times’, political choices either by men or women, triggered the emergence of new gender identities: black women and black men who, as a people, dared to struggle for Monte Alegre as a terra de preto, against antagonistic slave based and emergent peripheral capitalist society. In the next section, I discuss how this society envisioning development challenged these new identities, as we learn that the time of struggle was far from over. The Challenge of Gender in the “Development” of Monte Alegre The Visible and Invisible Matters that Led the Development Projects to Fail The 93 houses of Monte Alegre were burned on November 13, 1979, by 16 policemen acting together with 20 gunmen hired by the fazendeiro, and the event gained public visibility throughout the state. “This struggle was gaining name and spoken about throughout Brazil. It was disseminated even outside the country” (Parquia de So Lus

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174 Gonzaga 1990:47). Journalists, priests, nuns, lawyers and others joined the cause, and pushed for governmental action, whose agents increasingly began to intervene in the process. However, the actual effects of such a visibility had its own time. It was only on July 16, 1984 that the President Joo Figueiredo officially declared that the state had an interest in the expropriation of Monte Alegre and Olho d’gua dos Grilos, for social ends. There would be a long wait until the whole process was finalized, as the actual imisso de posse, tenure emission, was conceded only in 1985, and without it, governmental investments to restore the villages could not start. In 1990, the government conceded the “authorization of occupations.” This ironic “authorization” is another example of those attempts to erase disruptions aiming to maintain the order of the continuity of a total history. Until 1998, there were court battles over contested values to be paid to the fazendeiro. This lengthy gap, a common characteristic for the reformed lands throughout Brazil, induces uncertainties that make it impossible for either previous systems to proceed or new ones to emerge. Since the village had been the object of the Agrarian Reform, promises of development and agents from INCRA, EMATER, and BNB 19 started to circulate in the village. EMATER’s technicians, who were usually assisting fazendeiros, began to visit the reformed villages, funded by INCRA’s and the banks’ special resources for Agrarian Reform, which came in handy to savage their own bankrupt budget. A brand new brick school was being built, and there were plans to finally construct a road connecting the 19 INCRA: National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform; BNB: the Bank of the Northeast of Brazil; and EMATER: the State Enterprise for Technical Assistance and Rural Extension, which at the time was stagnant. As it was activated to serve in the so-called settlement projects in the reformed lands, EMATER had a high stake on their development. However, the chaotic liberation and application of funds led different agents to deal with these resources

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175 village to the towns of So Lus Gonzaga and Lima Campos, where people used to walk for medical services, market, the central church, transportation to other cities, etc. After the hard period of conflicts, followed by the reconstruction of the houses, and resumption of roas, hopes for improvements were high, although, at least among the elders, there were already doubts about what impacts the innovations would bring to the social order they thought adequate for their ways of life: “At that time, there were no meetings like today. But people were more united” (10). Differently than that previous order where men and women shared interchangeably (not always harmoniously) leading and executive roles, the development projects implied an order that privileged men in dominant roles, and called for women’s participation as supporting actors. Many projects and so-called development actions were underway, and they also became part of the village formation. There were many attempts toward smoothing the discontinuities and disruptions of contested views among elders and young leaders, men and women, leader and follower families, and consequently the different forms to live gender relations. One of these attempts was to equate areas of land with people’s territories. Against the protests of the elders, the lands of Monte Alegre were united to those of Olho d’gua dos Grilos, and the entire reformed area, thereafter denominated as Projeto de Assentamento Gleba Olho d’gua dos Grilos, unified a total of 2,813.41 ha. The notary office certified that lands of Monte Alegre and Olho Dgua dos Grilos were continuous, “the two forming only one area” 20 and the church and NGOs reconfirmed that “it is a diversely. There were examples of personal advantages in intermediating equipment and input purchases. Later, some agents ran for municipal electoral positions. 20 Certificate emitted by the Cartrio do Primeiro Ofcio da Comarca de So Lus Gonzaga do Maranho, on January 17, 1991, by Adlia Nasser Raposo.

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176 single rural property.” 21 The geographical unification of lands was extrapolated to an assumed social unification of the beneficiaries of the Agrarian Reform living on those lands. Such unifications, which erased the specific social formations and resulting hierarchies and norms of each of the two villages, were assumed to be the easiest way to deal with the goals set by the government: “the development process of the region” (Dirio Oficial da Unio 13/07/1984). 22 INCRA’s usual practice at that time was to divide reformed lands into individual plots, and in most cases, they were invariably sold back to the fazendeiros, plot after plot, as the social relations holding the land as a common resource and the village as a social unit would be broken down. To avoid this, the church had suggested and helped to form a juridical body to own the land, and benefit from credits and investments destined to those under the Agrarian Reform. In 1985, the “Sociedade Beneficiente Unidos Venceremos” was founded with a total of 135 members, homogenizing elders, newcomers, descendants of whatever families, people related either to Olho d’gua or Monte Alegre, and above all assuming men as heads of household for all matters. Those supporters, including myself, from the church, NGOs, local union and others, who gave some second thoughts to the concerns of the elders, disregarded them believing that, in spite of problems, the union between the two villages would favor them in solving the bureaucratic problems regarding titling, credit, projects, etc. The words of the day were “participative community,” where all the differences should be brought to the public arena, discussed, and collectively and democratically solved. 21 Estatuto da Associao de Trabalhadores Rurais Unidos Venceremos, whose first draft, proposed by the Church, was modified by the members of the two villages on May 13, 1991. 22 See Scott’s (1998) Seeing Like a State.

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177 Disruptive details were secondary to the greater challenge of the Agrarian Reform, poverty alleviation, gender fairness, and environmental conservation. The decision-making process prescribed by the so-called “Sociedade Beneficiente” was based on one member, one vote, assuming male heads of household as the usual representative of the family, in addition to single female heads of households. To respond to the new demands of the settlement projects, in May 13, 1991, the “Sociedade Beneficiente,” a nonprofit organization of religious mold, was changed to “Associao de Trabalhadores Rurais Unidos Venceremos,” to receive and administer economic projects. 23 For this purpose, the board of directors was supposed to democratically renew itself every 3 years, but after some years, composing a board of members of the two rival villages became increasingly difficult, let alone functioning. Although in formal and practical terms the hierarchy of the Associao defined broad and deep changes in the village life, these changes were in no ways exempt from the dynamics of the previous social arrangements, within the village, and between it and other villages and sectors of the surrounding society. The rivalry between Olho d’gua dos Grilos and Monte Alegre often influenced the decisions and practices. The agreements made with merchants, who were also feast providers, godfathers, or long term patres 24 of some, prevented the villagers from commercializing by themselves, as suggested and attempted by government and NGOs supporters. The elders continued to rule in some matters and challenged decisions by the new leaders. This dynamic combination affected the different projects in different ways, as discussed below. 23 This step coincided with the decreasing influence of the Church, and the proliferation of NGOs in social movements throughout the Amazon.

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178 Productive projects In 1992, governmental projects began, funded by national and international resources. Previously, the church had experimented with small projects such as rice hulling and cassava processing mills, but people were mostly unaware of the changes to come, both in social and environmental terms, as discussions about projects were related only to their economic aspects. Projects for cash crops were launched in 1992. 25 At this time, a mid-age generation of male leaders had taken over, and further changes in land use were underway: half of the area was still planned to remain forests, but the 7% of land already in permanent cultivation of cash crops was supposed to expand to about 30%, mostly with bananas and pineapples. Moved by the promises of easy markets, some people were expanding fields on their own. According to the governmental technicians, only 4.7% of the bananas commercialized in CEASA, the central retail produce market in the capital, were cultivated in Maranho itself, and this justified further investments in their cultivation. However, difficulties in community commercialization and lack of infrastructure prevented effective benefits, and they could not compete with better-capitalized merchants from other states. Besides, areas in permanent cultivation expanded considerably without considering the fact that previous shifting land use was based on a specific set of social relations, which was evolving according to its own pace and rules. 24 Patro here does not mean one who controls labor directly, but one who provides goods on credit. Although these are long-term relations, they are usually not perceived as captivity or immobilization. 25 In February 1992, members of the Associao began planting pineapples, suggested as a cash crop. A year later they expanded the project to plant 54.5 ha of bananas and more pineapples. In December of 1993, through the Programa Especial de Crdito para Reforma Agrria – PROCERA, a special credit for reformed lands, 22 beneficiaries planted additional areas of

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179 Imbalance in these relations prevented cohesiveness among families, and the leadership supposedly granted to the elected male leaders was rarely extrapolated beyond the strict bureaucracy of the projects, while the powers of the elders to treat decisive matters in the plane of the general assemblies were also diffuse. To deal with these problems, INCRA and UNDP (agreement BR 93-012) proposed training in capitalist entrepreneurship through the methodology GESPAR – participatory management, but the administration of the projects worsened until its complete failure. In July of 1995, the Associao got approval for a cattle project in the amount of R$ 186,017.00, a very high level of credit in relation to the income situation of its 109 beneficiaries, to be paid until 2002. For this credit, the project required 370 ha (12.6% of the land) to be cleared as pastures, eliminating several palms against the women’s protests. 218 cows and 8 bulls, 15 km of fences (which made women’s work with babau more difficult), 3 reservoirs and 2 barns were planned for the project. By the time the cattle project was introduced, female elders had already clashed with some governmental technicians. Meanwhile, technicians began to relate better with some young male heads of households, because they were thought to be more “modern” and “fit to progress.” The mid-age male leaders had been substituted for younger ones, as both technicians and locals perceived literacy and a supposedly greater ability to deal with banks and other institutions a plus. However, after a while, interviewees began to complain about technicians being rewarded for serving as middlemen for the merchants who supplied the materials, under the acquiescence of leaders privileged in one way or another. There was even a case in banana, as an Associative Project for Agricultural Investment, through BNB, assisted by EMATER.

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180 which one of the young male leaders borrowed a significant amount from the cattle project to finance the recording of his solo album. As the sales of his album were not successful, he never reimbursed the project. Either because he was the son of one of the elder women, or because people had real expectations for the success for his brega music, or because the collective resource was never really appropriated by the villagers, nobody really took action against him. Later, another young leader, who had become the main coordinator of the Association, even left the village, after administrative wrongdoings. When major changes in land use were proposed, according to EMATER’s estimation, 50% of the lands were babau forests and old capoeiras, 33% were fallows, 9% were roas, and 5% had permanent cultures such as banana. Today, most of the pastures are invaded by weak capoeira, cattle simply disappeared, and the few animals left are in the hands of a few, as most of the participants gave up. The fields planted with pineapples are barely profitable, and only a few producers can sell their bananas in the market. Capitalization did not occur, and it is unlikely that, without further inputs, cultivation can continue in the degraded lands. The current situation of the landscape in Monte Alegre is represented by a satellite image shown in Figure 3-3. Infrastructural projects To solve a serious problem of water supply, the supposedly homogeneous mass of individual voters democratically defined what type of wells to install. However, in spite of a severe water shortage in the dry season, internal conflicts led to the completion of only one of the two artesian wells, and conflicts about its use continue until today. As the women were the most interested, the unsolved conflict intensified their withdrawal. A reservoir built in the 1970s by the fazendeiros could never actually be utilized, and opinions varied among both insiders and outsiders. According to some,

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181 “there is no longer order in this place,” and according to others, “it is all a cambada de nego preguioso, a bunch of lazy negro.” Figure 3-3. Overlay of Monte Alegre and Olho d’gua dos Grilos’ area in 1999, Landsat ETM+ satellite scene. Data provided by INCRA-MA

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182 In 1997, an eagerly-awaited housing project was carried out. According to the project, partial disbursements to construct 89 houses would be made on approval of the accomplished stages, by the president of the Association and INCRA’s technician. However, the houses were only partially built and many were left as they were, although payments to the contractor (indicated by INCRA) had been made in full. As people finally realized the failure, some managed to save social security payments to put on ceramic roofs, but many covered the brick walls with babau leaves. The same happened with floors, doors and windows. Again, the crew and contractor had been sheltered by some of the families and protected by some leaders, who defended them. The wrongdoings were so blatant that INCRA opened an administrative inquiry to check on responsibilities (personal information at INCRA). Electrification came on in 1998 through a contested process of installation of 21 km of electrical lines, whose technical problems remain until today. Reform of dirt roads with badly engineered drainpipes did not solve the interruption of transportation during the rainy season, but public money surely went down the drain. With failure after failure, in spite of strong internal friction, there never was a single effective action taken against wrongful leaders, technicians, or external authorities, and their local or outsider accomplices. It was the most intriguing public silence. The Visible Women Who Assumed the Debts From the very beginning, leadership problems were reflected from conception to implementation, to evaluation of the projects, and blindness toward the specificities of gender and other social relations were at root of it. Alienation between the practical dynamics of the social fabric and the bureaucratic mechanisms of the general assembly and voting system, began to affect several processes. The language, the issues, and the

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183 dynamics of the Associao gatherings regarding the projects gradually excluded women and elders from directive roles, affecting economic and ecological scenarios in the village. The agents of development formally kept suggesting participation of women, but under their own terms. A couple of women had their names in quite dysfunctional, nonfunded, and cosmetic cultural and social sections of the projects. In the past, “if there were thirty men, there were thirty women” (14), but in all these projects, the percentage of female names formally assigned as beneficiaries varied from 10 to 14%, and in practice, it was significantly less. And even worse, some of the female interviewees stated that they were not aware that their names were listed as beneficiaries and debtors. As part of my fieldwork, I accompanied dona Dij (Maria de Jesus Bringel) to the Bank of Northeast, and we learned that her signature had been falsified in a bank document, and dona (Nazir) Cleonice Andrade had her name listed in the cattle project without her consent. When the bank officer realized the coarse forgery, he tried to confiscate the document, but we grabbed it beforehand. That section of the bank had also been subject to administrative investigation and its previous coordinator punished and transferred (not fired, because he was the relative of a superior in the bank – personal communication by a governmental agent involved in the project), so tensions were still in the air. By the end of the last board of directors’ term, dona Dij (the same who started writing the letters to the authorities), dona Sind and dona Rita, supported by dona Vitalina, Nazir, and others, decided to run for the Association’s elections. “We wanted to know what was going on; we were afraid of what they were doing behind our backs, dragging us into debt, and they [the previous male directors] would not even allow us to

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184 see the account books.” Many were afraid that the bank could take the land because of their debts. The women won the hard-disputed elections, but the books were barely useful, as activities and finances were practically not registered, and bookkeeping was not done; a dusty bag with scattered receipts and bills was all the previous board of directors handed to them. Even to register their electoral victory in the public notary office in So Lus Gonzaga, the women were humiliated by hearing about “those thieves of Monte Alegre.” To pay the notary officer for the accumulated debts of the previous board of directors, they negotiated the amount, but had to return to the village and fundraise by breaking babau. Next, in the Federal Revenue office, women had their papers apprehended, because the last board of directors also owned financial reports related to the road project/ Comunidade Viva, and their regulatory documents were 3 years late. Years of administrative wrongdoings started to come to light. In December 15, 1999, just to take the cattle project for example, although some members had made some payments, the beneficiaries still had a total debt of R$ 286,373.02, 43% of this amount in late charges. Although the deadline was postponed to 2004, the amount was already too high for their current income. After several meetings in the village and in the bank, nothing was solved, and women joined a region-wide social movement to discuss and negotiate the debts to PROCERA. Throughout the country, denunciations about wrongdoings with these public resources involving mostly financial and governmental, but also nongovernmental and community agents, have mobilized grassroots and NGOs. Therefore, the evaluation of the people related to the elders of Monte Alegre about these projects is that, through the struggle for the land, Monte Alegre gained some visibility,

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185 and for that reason, it accessed some resources. However, this visibility was instrumental to goals not set by the people themselves, and now, women were made visible again, so they could assume the debts. It is important to note that, in spite of this instrumental type of visibility attributed to women in the political negotiations of the debts, men are also paying the price of their mistakes. To my knowledge, at least six men left Monte Alegre and Olho d’gua because of the debts. While two cases can be related to flight because of illicit practices for self-benefit, the others were attempts to repay the debt. These situations are observed throughout the Amazon. Dona Uda’s husband, for example, left for Suriname in 1999. “He put it in his head that if he stayed here in the center, he would never be able to pay the projects, the debts he has to pay. Then, he said that he would go to the garimpo, that there he would manage to get money to pay the debts. There are the cattle project, the coconut and banana projects. They added up his debt and it was six [thousand]; then, there were some discounts that I did not understand, and it went down to three and something. So, he left to pay for this debt, a ele ficava liberto, because then he would be freed” (Uda, povoado Coroat). 26 The analogy to the new forms of enslavement is expressed in “he would be free,” but even in these situations in which men were struggling to pay the debts, women also were left to handle the problems, both to deal locally with the charges from the bank and the maintenance of the family in the absence of the men. Therefore, here we need to further qualify our notion of social visibility, and check whether such a visibility is not bringing new enslavements. In the case of the projects in Monte Alegre, gender concerns were not even taken into consideration, as it is increasingly demanded in projects throughout the Amazon. However, throughout the so-called Third World, even when women are considered, according to Rocheleau (1990, cited in Kabeer 1994), too often 26 Until July of 2002, he had not returned, and the money he earned was not enough to cover the debts.

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186 they are visible only as mere “resources,” as poorly remunerated, if at all, “fixers” of badly planned and implemented projects. “Gender-blindness of policy here stems not so much from ignoring women within policy design, but from abstracting them from the social context of their lives” (Kabeer 1994:269). Immobilized on the economic front, the women’s group guided by dona Dij decided to invest their efforts in education matters. They applied for and achieved an expansion of the school building, adding one more classroom through FUNDEF and acquiring new equipments. They also started a high-school class instructed through a TV program, and the teachers were all participating in governmental training programs to formally graduate lay teachers. Under the guidance of the women’s board of directors and support of the elders, teenagers and young males were reviving the tambor the crioula and the youth club. The youth applied and wan a nongovernmental project to run a rice mill with supervision of the women. However, although very excited with these initiatives, the women leaders counted mostly on their volunteer work and, adding the efforts to solve the economic project debts, women were exploited to exhaustion. Mentioning several examples, Kabeer criticizes the visibility brought about by women’s participation in education, health, and overall welfare, which assumes “their natural willingness to undertake more work in the interests of family and community ‘with more knowledge, but little more time or money’” (1994:269). “Invisible women of the economic theorist become the all-powerful mothers of the health and welfare advocates” (Bruce and Dwyer 988:18, cited in Kabeer 1994:269). Unfortunately, these “all-powerful” women who manage to carry out triple or quadruple roles, at domestic, production, community, and advocacy

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187 spheres, have been exhausted, and often these kind of visibility seem to end in “disposable” efforts, as the labor invested implies the so-called women’s labor flexibility. In Monte Alegre, this situation was confirmed in the municipal elections of 2001. The candidate supported by the women engaged in the recuperation of the Association lost the campaign, and as a consequence, the new elected mayor fired everybody connected to them. Dona Dij lost her directive role in the village school, and so other teachers. Two former male directors of the Association [those who left the unpaid debts] became principal and teacher of the reformed school, appointed by the new major who they had campaigned for, even though they were less formally educated than the women then in charge. At any rate, the women’s board of directors and the elders continue their efforts through the youth group, and were still struggling to free Monte Alegre from its debts, but with strong sacrifices by the women. And so it seemed that, after all these years of investments to achieve social visibility, the struggle of Monte Alegre had worsened. After all the painful transformations in gender relations and other social relations, throughout slavery, formation of a village, and struggle for the land, women were again paying the price for the development actions. Conclusion: Social Visibility in the Construction of Gender We have seen that the invisibility of gender and other social relations based on trabalho livre contributed to the failure of development projects. The fact that the struggle of Monte Alegre had achieved public visibility, which should have been a victory for the social movements, was not the final answer for its problems. What is the answer then? I believe I can answer this by responding to my research question: “How are gender and other social relations transformed in times of conflict, struggle and political resistance?” Looking at the transformations that emerged from multiple

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188 trajectories intertwined in the formation of Monte Alegre, I believe we can learn about the transformations necessary to assure life with dignity in its village. Through the narrative of the elders, we can see that, in Monte Alegre, diverse forms of gender relations were often reversed and overturned throughout the “time of captivity,” “time of being owner of one’s self,” “time of struggle,” which formed its village. We discussed how all these transformations, in one way or another, were leading to the ways of life based on trabalho livre, a form of labor from which gender cannot be dissociated. However, in the present “time of projects,” the expected transformations have entailed a utilitarianism, an instrumentality, that turn the subjects of the multi-faceted history of the village into objects of development actions. Within the totalizing approach of these actions, trabalho livre has not found a place or has not been defined yet, if it ever will. Therefore, the public visibility attained, followed by the governmental development action, has demanded transformations in gender relations that clashes with the transformations carried out throughout the process of formation of the village. I learned that this instrumentality and utilitarianism that permeated the approach to development in Monte Alegre has deep and remote origins. They can be identified in the way the subjects and their trajectories have been historically approached. It is expressed by a lack of historical and anthropological data about the introduction and lives of enslaved Africans and their descendants in the Amazon. 27 This absence should itself be an object of research in our inquiry about social visibility. According to Figueiredo and Vergolino (1990), this absence reflects the idea that, while in the Northeast slavery was an essential topic because of its role in the plantation system, in Amazonia, it was

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189 minimized because indigenous groups carried out the most significant economic activities in terms of markets: extraction of drogas do serto, forest drugs. Therefore, the first problem to understand the transformations based on trabalho livre, is that, although it relates to markets, it is not based on or driven by markets. Later, when the study of the slavery began to include the Amazon, it was greatly affected by the degree to which the subjects retained their connections to an idealized “Africa,” religion being the most expressive link. While in the Northeast, the candobls and xangs, based on the Nags’ religion with origins in the Sudan, were considered a more authentic African religion, cults of Banto origin observed in the Amazonia, were taken as “inferior,” as they were compromised by the pajelanas, indigenous cults. 28 Therefore, not only the lack of perceived links to relevant markets, but also of links to “African culture” of the former slaves in Maranho led to their erasure. The intertwined multiplicity of trajectories that formed the general history of the Mearim valley is made then invisible. Figueiredo and Vergolino discuss the double role of this type of visibility, in which research promotes “scientific inclusion” while endorsing “ideological exclusion” (reference to Copans 1974): blacks were included in the focus of scientific attention, but this focus was already ideologically defined. The inclusion of a selected, specific “type” of black, the ones who showed more pure “Africanisms,” excluded others who were not fit to the instrumentality and utilitarianism that drove this ideological envisioning. This visibility privileging more “pure” African cultural remnants was related to the interests of that political period in promoting the “myth of racial democracy.” The 27 This absence was first questioned by Pereira, an ethnologist from Maranho in 1938

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190 recovery of an authentic African culture would help to compose a cultural nationalism, and establish a politically desired “modality of vertical integration, above classes and ethnicities” (Dantas 1982:109, cited in Figueiredo and Vergolino 1990:30). “(The) exclusion of Amazonia in the Africanist thought is explained by an ideological reason; that is, since Amazonia was perceived as an area of little or no “Africanicity,” it was abandoned as an object of study because it was not the best source of symbols that helped to legitimate the diverse politico-ideological interests at stake, at that moment” (1990:31). The geographically confined images of Indians in the Amazon and blacks in Bahia, Pernambuco or Rio would be the convenient symbols to sell Brazil’s national integration. This would be the second problem in visualizing the referred transformations, as trabalho livre is perceived as a disruption, and not a practice toward national integration. If these were some of the problems related to dominant interests and discourses in that period focusing national integration, what are the interests and discourses dominating the time and spaces in which I write my dissertation, in this period of sustainable development? Surely Amazonia has gained attention on its own in the developmental and conservation discourse. Certainly still, blacks also attained a distinct place in Maranho’s studies, and gradually black women have turned out to be increasingly visible. However, to put these development, conservationist, cultural and gender issues together: are the instrumentality and utilitarianism still there? As the exclusion of cultural groups proved inefficient, is their inclusion, even a certain celebration of the traditional, of blackness, womanhood, in the current research state of affairs, more efficient or instrumental for what interests and utilities? Having my anthropological, conservation and gender equality 28 “The ostensibly African religion of candombl has exploded while practice of the syncretic umbanda has diminished noticeably” (Lesser1999:2).

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191 goals, how can I examine the instrumentality of being black, working in an extractive activity, defending a palm forest and living specific gender relations? To answer these questions, I began to trace some historical data forming the continuous history of the black slaves in Maranho, trying to identify at what point of this continuum I could find the trajectory of dona Valeriana Parga and, through her disruption, learn how I could better visualize transformations in gender relations without getting trapped in utilitarianisms. I would learn that what is really at stake in how gender and other social relations are transformed is related to a battle over the control of labor throughout history. The Brazilian government, through its Fundao Palmares, considers the slaves brought by Tom de Souza to Bahia in 1549 to be the first ones to enter Brazil. They were followed by three and a half million enslaved Africans until 1850, when traffic was prohibited (Fundao Palmares 2000). The introduction of enslaved Africans in Amazonia belongs to a context that involved the Portuguese crown struggling with the tension between labor demands from colonizer planters and the Catholics’ advocates against Indian slavery. The Amazonian captaincies of Par and of Maranho, which were part of the State of Maranho, were competing for labor against the demands of the State of Brazil, composed by the states to their south. While the state of Brazil was booming with sugar plantations and later with the gold rush, absorbing most of the introduced African slaves, the incipient economy of the state of Maranho was struggling over the undefined issues of Indians’ enslavement (Alden 1985). Since the very beginning of Maranho’s history, in the early 1600s, when Franciscans were opposing colonists’ domination over Indians, and later, pressured by

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192 the tension between Jesuits and planters in Maranho over the same issues, the crown kept swinging from one ambiguous position to another. By the end of the 1660s, both a planter, Joo de Moura, and a priest, the famous Antonio Vieira, came up with a common solution: black slaves to substitute for the indigenous, an idea reinforced by a royal official 10 years later. 29 On April 1, 1680 a not-so-seriously-taken law emitted by the crown banished Indian enslavement, and the government then created a Maranho Company, formed by rich Lisbon merchants, to provide 250 black slaves to the captaincy of Maranho and 350 to Par each year. 30 Slaves were then introduced through contracts between the Crown and private companies named Assentistas, and later through the Estanco, monopolies conceded to the Commerce Companies, and other private companies (Figueiredo and Vergolino 1990). However, alleging abusive exemptions, prices, and taxes, the planters expelled the Maranho Company, and rejected its inefficient monopoly of slave distribution. 31 Another Company, Cacheu, which served more profitable Caribbean markets, also sent slaves to Maranho in the 1690s, although their prices were still too high for its unruly settlers. 32 More than half a century passed in this conflictive and unclear situation, until aged D. Joo V died and insecure son D. Jos I gave room for the Marquis of Pombal to impose his strong will to make the Amazon lucrative to the crown, sending his own 29 See McLachlan 1979:14, for the Catholic compliance with black slavery. 30 According to Taunay, the Companhia do Estanco do Maranho would provide for 500 slaves per year at 100,000 ris each, during 20 years. 31 One of these revolts, the Revolta dos Beckmanns happened in 1684, and its leader was killed in 1685. 32 “Between 1693 and 1703 the price of a prime black slave in the State advanced from 55,000 ris to 180,000 ris; by 1718 it rose to 300,000 ris.” The price of a black slave was up to ten times the price of an Indian slave (Cartas Rgias, Livro Grosso do Maranho, Overseas Council to Cristvo da Costa Freire, and Livro do Registro, cited in Alden 1985:79)

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193 brother, Mendona Furtado, as governor for Maranho and captain-general of the State. 33 The new governor, however, found the captaincy devastated by the smallpox epidemic of the 1740s, as he wrote back: “This State, especially this captaincy, has been reduced to utter poverty; all its inhabitants have reached extreme consternation; most of them retain the odd Indian slave to gather from the river or the forest their meager daily rations with which they pass the time, wretchedly confined in thatched huts which they call farms” (Furtado 1751, quoted in Alden 1985). So, changes needed to be taken gradually, and only on June of 1755, were all Indians declared freed, even from the priests’ control, and the incorporated General Company of Commerce of Greater Par and Maranho was in charge of a charter providing black slaves to the settlers, on credit. As we will see in Chapter 4, the first information obtained about the masters Pargas dates of this period. Enslaved Africans were brought to Gro Par and Maranho mainly from the Portuguese Guin (current Guin-Bissau Republic), Cape Verde, Angola, Luanda, and Bengela (current Popular Republic of Angola), but also from Mombaa (current Republic of Kenya) and surroundings of the Rovuna River (current Republic of Tanzania and Popular Republic of Moambique) (Figueiredo and Vergolino 1990). Later, slaves were also brought to Gro Par and Maranho through the national commerce with other Brazilian states, especially Pernambuco, Bahia and Rio de Janeiro. In addition, there were registered cases of runaway slaves entering Par from French and Dutch Guianas (current Republic of Suriname). There was also a circuit of runaway slaves crossing the borders between Par and Maranho, as the case of a slave who belonged to Par and was seized 33 At that time, 1750, the treaty of Madrid was signed and Brazil forfeited the Platine area to Spain, leading to a new interest in the Amazon as a source of wealth.

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194 by Indians, being recaptured in Turiau, 34 where a quilombo resisted for about four decades (Malheiros 1976). This circuit may have involved the Mearim valley, as Seu Romo, the owner of the tenda de Santa Brbara, an Umbanda center in Monte Alegre, told me that he was a grandson of Deodato, who, according to dona Vitalina, “was not an Indian, but an amucambado, a maroon, of Turiau.” Until the General Company of Commerce of Greater Par and Maranho lost its charter in 1778, it had introduced more than 25,000 Africans to Maranho (Alden 1985). Contraband and internal commerce also contributed to make up an estimated total number of 53,000 slaves entering Amazonia in the colonial period (Figueiredo and Vergolino 1990). “By 1800, the enumerated population of the two captaincies had grown to about 160,000 residents, of whom nearly two-thirds were blacks and one-quarter Indians. Black slaves then constituted 23 percent of the population in Par and 46 percent of Maranho” (Alden 1985: 101). 35 However, the bondage of two centuries of Indian slavery 36 followed by another two centuries of African slavery in Maranho, with the introduction of such a great number of slaves, did not assure the economy proposed by the authorities, neither in colonial, imperial nor republic governments. Two additional centuries of development of capitalism and continuous governmental interventions have not solved the problems of “underdevelopment” in “peripheral” Maranho. Throughout these centuries of struggles, 34 Documents 41 and 81 dated of 5.4.1774, cited in Vergolino and Figueiredo 1990:103, 171. 35 Lord Strangeford to Marquis Wellesly, Rio de Janeiro, 20 May 1810, Public Records Office. F063/84/ERD/2255, courtesy of Dr F.W.O. Morton. (Alden 1985:101) 36 The lack of research on indigenous slavery reflects the myth that only when Africans were substituted for the Indians, did slavery became of economic significance, but as Alden’s historical data show, the survival of the dominant colonizer sector was significantly based on exploitation of Indian labor for two centuries.

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195 in Monte Alegre, gender relations were transformed to establish trabalho livre, as a form of labor that freed its village from the bondages of the dominant systems. We have seen through this chapter that, in spite of the dependency of agriculture on slave labor and other forms of labor that followed slavery, this “peripheral” (from the perspective of the dominant sectors of development) condition in Maranho allowed social situations of negotiations and resistance. These initiatives, not necessarily expressed by open conflict or formation of conventionally recognized quilombos, blurred a sharply designed structure maintaining bondages in the Mearim valley since the end of the 18 th and beginning of the 19 th centuries. Visualizing these disruptive trajectories, we can trace a diversity of modes of living and modes of production sculpting contemporary histories not quite identical to that told by the total history of the various forms of “underdevelopment” in either colonial, imperial, or capitalist “peripheries.” Through the reading of total national history, we learn about scenarios composed by decadent former slave fazendas broken by the fall of the cotton economy, and taken over by capitalist entrepreneurship subsidized by a state promoting development through cattle ranching. Monte Alegre is a good illustration of these situations. In this continuity, a failed Agrarian Reform is merely another unsuccessful step in these sequences of economic failures. Through this total history, women would be just the victims of these developmental sequences, and women’s visibility would only express their pathetic efforts to fix the accumulated losses of “underdevelopment.” I could not find in this type of visibility the explanation for gender relations I observed in the field. Rather, through the disruptive character of the histories lived by Valeriana, Vitalina, Nazir, Dij, Mundiquinho, Juarez, Garimpeiro and others, I learned

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196 that we can and must assume another perspective. We must look at everyday practices and all those choices that, although diverse and sometimes contradictory, have formed and maintained the village of Monte Alegre as it is. Listening to stories about their past and observing relations between men and women in the present, I could not find points of insertion for the transformations of gender relations in the total history, because, in this continuum, they would be always backward, marginal, and “underdeveloped” objects to be developed. Therefore, I had to search for the transformations in the disruption itself: in their everyday practices that contest the discourses of development. The precarious material and social conditions they are living now should not be improved, aiming to finally fit the villagers in, to integrate them into the continuity of Indigenous and African slavery, progressing toward development. These conditions must be solved because they have already lived the disruptions, and set the discontinuity against the domination over their labor, through the practices of trabalho livre. Therefore, transformations in gender relations should not be sought as tools to integrate them efficiently in the continuity they have already broken with. The woman Valeriana was and the woman Vitalina is are already disruptive transformations in gender relations based on trabalho sem patro. These disruptions demand transformations in the society in which Monte Alegre exists as a village living peasant ways of life.

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CHAPTER 4 DONA VITALINA ANDRADE MAKING THE “SELF” VISIBLE: ARTICULATED ETHNICITIES IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER AMONG THE ANDRADES, A FAMILY IN THE MEARIM VALLEY Introduction In Chapter 2, through the trajectory of Maria Pretinho, I began to examine disruptive forms of living gender relations, which were made invisible by several factors interacting in the formation of a municipality, including its social movements. In Chapter 3, I continued my examination presenting Valeriana Parga, also a former slave, who joined other families to constitute the village of Monte Alegre. I looked at how, throughout development actions taking place in its Agrarian Reform, which were supposedly to be an achievement of the social movements, the invisibility of village gender relations contributed to further gender inequalities. After contexts of a municipality and a village, in this chapter, through the trajectory of Vitalina Andrade, I look at gender in the context of the construction of a family itself. To answer the third research question set out in the beginning of my dissertation, “How do multiple forms of gender relations combine and evolve in specific trajectories of village formation and struggles?” the study of a single family is taken as a point of departure. Family (not defined here necessarily by biological progenitors) can be viewed as the social unit that initiates the process of construction of the gendered members of a social group. As we will see, multiple forms of gender relations delineated by families combine and evolve in specific trajectories of village formation. And yet, throughout its 197

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198 formation and struggles, neither families nor villages are isolated, but interact with other families, villages, and broader social realms, in interconnected contexts. To propose an expanded and critical form of visibility for these contexts and processes of combination and evolving of multiple forms of gender relations, as a research strategy, I contrast the formation of gender relations in the Andrade family with two other families. The first contrast is with Vitalina Andrade’s ancestors’ masters, the white Parga family, and the second contrast is with immigrant Japanese peasants, the Sakiaras, 1 the family of my own ancestors. The reader may ask: “What have the Sakiaras to do with dona Vitalina, and with the combination of forms of gender relations in trajectories composing the village of Monte Alegre?” Although the first Sakiara to step foot in that village was the author of this dissertation, who met dona Vitalina only in 1986, my research led me to believe that the construction of the Sakiara family is intrinsically connected to the construction of the village of Monte Alegre, and therefore, with dona Vitalina’s family. Trying to decipher the intermingled web of processes enveloping the ways of life in Monte Alegre, searching for how multiple forms of gender relations have been combined and evolved in the trajectories that have formed its village, I learned that the answer to question 3 was neither in the family itself nor in the village in isolation. Rather, these “web-like, netlike connections” were spread far beyond Monte Alegre “to embrace the trajectories of others – all others” (Wolf 1982:386). The objective of this chapter, therefore, is to find a self-critical and relational conceptualization of gender, which allows the inclusion of the author and the reader as connected agents affecting how the multiple forms of gender relations have intertwined with the general history of the Mearim valley.

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199 Here again, we are not trying to check on historical documents of the actual Andrades, Pargas, and Sakiaras. Rather, the allegories of their family trajectories are viewed as ethnographically obtained representations, taken as research tools that will allow me to work on the social relations I am trying to understand: ways of life based on trabalho livre as a set of social relations from which gender relations cannot be dissociated. I examine gender relations in the context of these families to demonstrate that: the construction of gender relations in the Mearim valley is an integral and intrinsic part of constructions of gender elsewhere, in families throughout the Brazilian and other societies around the globe. In the light of Eric Wolf’s insights, I was attempting an ethnographic effort to listen to the “people without history” in order to compose a general history of gender relations in the Mearim valley. While doing this, I learned the truly relational character of the different actors of this history, and I needed to include, intensify, and expand my understanding of the “people with history” as well. I needed to get to know better the European white masters, and also other social segments that compose the multi-ethnic society that currently involves the black Andrades. Therefore, following my analysis of dona Vitalina’s family, I study the family of the Parga masters who, although closer to her family in time and space, seemed distant in the white-black, master-slave oppositions. I continue my discussion with the apparently even more distant Asian Sakiara family, the colored peasant immigrants who should have seemed closer to “Vitalina’s family,” for they came to Brazil to substitute for slave labor. At this point in my dissertation, the anthropological pursuit of the meaning of gender in the Mearim valley brought my authorship, and the formation of my own gender, closer to the focus of inquiry, demanding a more inclusive and self-critical examination. I began to 1 It reads Sakihara, but as many Japanese names, it was changed by a Brazilian notary office.

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200 realize that, to understand the gender of the “Other,” one has to understand the gender of the “Self,” and the reasons why, in this interconnected construction of gender, the Andrades, as the research subjects, were made “Other.” Leaving Monte Alegre one more time. There I was at the end of an afternoon in the rainy season of 2001, on my last visit to Monte Alegre before this dissertation. For the first time there, drinking refrigerated water, in the shade of dona Vitalina’s new brick house. My evenings were no longer for interviews with old people, because now, after she was done with her rosary-long prayer, we had to watch the seven o’clock soap opera, then the news, and then the eight o’clock soap opera. The truck now came almost every day to Monte Alegre; most of houses had electricity; and many villagers used the night to get hypnotized by the increasing number of TVs scattered in the village, getting to know what was happening in the world. They had watched in the news the sequence of bomb attacks, ending with the U.S. bombarding Sudan’s pharmaceutical building. “We asked ourselves, where might Noemi be, my God, wandering in this crazy world.” “No, Nazir, that day I was in the U.S., and they are so powerful that bombs do not fall in their lands .” I replied. Changes in the village and world around were so intense that we had no idea how far from the truth I was. Yet, the researcher and researched had changed too. Those late afternoons had become my eagerly awaited prize-of-the-day, as walking with the women through the forests, and the men through their roas, was getting increasingly hard for me. Doninha, who had had a stroke 2 years before, teased me because my legs had become so flaccid and white, and my extra pounds made me out-of-breath so many times. Dona Vitalina’s rheumatisms had taken over her. The elders Joo Paulo and dona Euzbia had long gone, and seu Nenm had been paralytic for 3

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201 years. Of the leaders of the struggle, Garimpeiro is dead, and Juarez is confined to his hammock for about 7 years. On the other hand, Guri married. Cleudi and Fbio were beginning to take control of the drum parties. The daughter of Maria de Enias had left the village and, pregnant, came back home. Nega, who was separated from the father of her children, had a new partner. Dona Santa had a new grandchild (Figure 4-1 and 4-2). Figure 4-1. Dona Maria do Enia and Mida in 1990. Figure 4-2: Dona Maria do Enia and Mida in 2001, when she returned from Par to have her baby at home The closeness of getting old together allowed us a long-term perspective, as we now could talk about people who had left the village, and then returned, people who married, had babies, and those who had died. After all these years, our relation seemed very clear; I was an outsider, but getting close enough to talk about our families and our relations. Soon, I would learn that our relations were much closer, for much longer than I had ever thought, and in ways that I had never imagined.

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202 The Construction of Gender in Dona Vitalina’s Family In this section, I examine the formation of gender relations in the family of dona Vitalina, to understand how they were combined and evolved in specific trajectories of village formation and struggles, throughout slavery, post-abolition, conflict over land, and development actions. I could not find other documents informing about the origins of dona Vitalina’s family, besides registrations in the First Book of Baptisms launched in 1856 by Father Manoel Loureno Ferreira, for the Freguesia de So Luiz Gonzaga of the Alto Mearim. 2 In spite of this lack of historical documentation, with her impressive memory, dona Vitalina provided me information to design several genealogical trees of families of Monte Alegre, through recollections of her own life and of what was told to her. I was amazed by the precision with which her information coincided with the dates and content of the Book, hitherto unknown to her. Trying to disentangle her family memories, the first genealogical tree I could come up with is represented in Figure 4-3. 3 2 This kind of documents may be found in most old parishes in Maranho, as according to Law number 208, of July 27, 1846 of the Provncia do Maranho: article 1: “births of all free people or slaves will be registered in the Municipal Chamber of respective municipalities; article 2: the parochial priest of Freguesias will remit, every three months, a report of all baptisms that he, or other priests under his license, has performed, stating sex, name, day, year and place of birth of each baptized one.” To locate similar documents, see also: Guia Brasileiro de Fontes para a Histria da Africa na Escravido Negra e do Negro na Sociedade Atual. 1988. Arquivo Nacional, Departamento de Imprensa Nacional, vol.1 and 2. 3 Genealogy was an essential tool to understand gender in the Mearim valley; however, it was one of the most difficult steps of my research, recommendable only for long-term fieldwork. As Malinowski had said: “I also have been making the village census with genealogies, a most damnably tedious work and my head is splitting after 2 hours of it, but I am afraid that it is indispensable” (Malinowski to Elsie, letter of Dec 23 1917, Malinowski and Masson 1995:80). In the charts to follow, a square represents a male; a circle, a female, deceased subjects mentioned in the narrative are marked with an X, and in cases of more than one spouse, first husbands or wives are the closest.

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203 Ipolito Parga 1856 1936 Valeriana Parga 80 Zeferino 1880 1921 Margarida Maria Conceicao 41 1915 Vitalina Andrade 87 Dorothe a Domingos Waldemar 1941 Cleonice "Nazir" Andrade 61 Joaquim 1966 Lucia 36 Xexeu 1990 Paula 12 Sebastiana 1918 Joao Felix Minervina Ramiro Agostinho Sara Norata Antonio Raimundo Cantidia Theodora Figure 4-3. Genealogical tree of dona Vitalina Maria Andrade This genealogical method serves to organize the vertical and horizontal relations among social actors and, through ethnographic interviews, figure out how the gender of each member of the social group was constructed. Very soon I realized that this neat bi-dimensional representation of her biological lineage would not be very helpful to explain gender relations in her family trajectory, so I had to revise all the data I had discarded as misunderstandings or irrelevant. Often, Vitalina referred to a man in the role of a father, but he was “in reality” a second or third stepfather, or an older half-brother,

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204 and the same happened to aunts, sisters, grandmother’s sisters, etc. in the roles of mothers. Adding the marriages of older sisters or brothers was also very important, because as women had numerous children, such as her mother Margarida for example, older siblings’ relations affected the way younger ones would be raised as a man or a woman. As I began to add the different male partners, who in their turn were having children with different mothers, the chart of biological ascendancy and descendancy of one ego became inadequate. Through these charts, I could not represent the relations that actually informed gender in dona Vitalina’s family. To make such relations more complex, another component of this construction were compadrios (de igreja and de fogo) and nonbiological forms of kinship (de leite, de pegao, de criao). 4 For example, Vitalina’s maternal grandmother Dorothea had several children, with different partners. Sebastiana Rosa, Sebastiana Rita,Violante, Gertrude, Margarida, Ana, Maria Natividade, and Delfino Gabino were the children Vitalina could recall. She could not remember every father, but she was told that her aunt Maria Natividade, for example, had Leonel for a father, while her mother Margarida was the daughter of Domingos. Initially, I had assumed that this lack of reference to fathers was just a reflection of the way the church and State used to elaborate the documents that controlled the slaves. While paternity was registered for the whites, mothers and mothers’ masters were the reference for identification of slaves. Figures 4-4 and 4-5 illustrate forms required by the State. 4 Compadre de igreja and de fogo are forms of non-biological kinship, sanctioned by the Catholic Church and by a lay rite, respectively. Me de leite, milk mother, is another form of non-biological kinship, which like other forms such as me de pegao, delivery mother, and me de criao, raising mother, implies obligations and privileges.

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205 Figure 4-4. Form to register slaves used in the second half of 19 th century (Veiga 1876)

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206 Figure 4-5. Form to register slaves used in the second half of 19 th century (Veiga 1876)

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207 The church registered baptisms as follows: On the 29 th day of June of 1858, in fazenda So Joaquim, belonging to Joaquim Ferreira Lisboa Parga, I baptized under the license provided by the Excellence Reverend Diocese Bishop, the priest Manoel Ribeiro de Macedo Camora e Motta, the following children: Maria born on February 29 of this year, legitimate daughter of Vertiniano Ferreira Lisboa Parga and his wife Dona Maria Raymunda Nina Parga: godparents were Silvino Ferreira Lisboa Parga and Dona Rita Geraltina Lisboa Parga; Valerianno(a), 5 born on Abril 14 of the current year, natural [filho(a)] son [or daughter] of Theodora, criola, slave of Silvino Ferreira Lisboa Parga; godparents were Vertinianno Ferreira Lisboa Parga and Dona Maria Raymunda Nina Parga However, beyond the rules for what the dominant sectors’ were interested to register, I believe that the registration of baptisms also reflects how the slaves dealt with those rules. In the trajectories forming Monte Alegre, we can see that both the black father is made invisible by his enslaved condition, and the white father is also made invisible for the “illicit” condition of his paternity. Although invisible in the documents, these were among the multiple forms of gender relations combined in their intertwined trajectories. The Book of Baptisms offers some illustrations through its registrations. In the case of the slaves, the baptized children were categorized according to their color: as preta, crioula, mulatta, and parda, always as natural children of their mothers. A remarkable number of children of mixed color are registered as natural children of their single black mothers, since the initial years of the book. Mothers and godparents were categorized as slaves, livre (free), or liberta (freed), or forro (one to whom manumission is conceded), and by color. In the case of masters, landowners and spouses were referred to by first and 5 Dona Vitalina was told that her great-grandmother was called Theodora, and that Valeriana and Theodora had come from Parnaba, and then separated. However, as the age and year of her death coincides with her birth around the year of 1858, it may be possible that this registration, which had many typos, confusing female and male children, was hers. She could have been born in the Mearim valley and sent to Parnaba.

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208 last name, with mention of their properties and titles. Their children were designated as legitimate or natural, without mention of color. Comparing ethnographic interviews with baptisms registrations, I identified cases in which female slaves of a fazenda had a master couple from another fazenda godfathering her child, and as I could confirm in four cases related to the interviewees, the child’s father was from this second fazenda. Throughout the book, we learn about an extensive and complex network connecting slaves and their siblings, their masters and godparents, and respective fazendas. It is important to remember that, “the slaves worked for themselves” – meaning trabalho livre – although only in the weekends. Therefore, the possibilities of time and places to plant their own roas were implicit in the constitution of this network. To learn about trabalho livre associated with gender relations, it is essential to understand what types of gender relations connected dona Vitalina’s family with other slaves’ and masters’ families. We will see next that, since the very origins of the social construction of roa, gender relations had an intrinsic association with trabalho livre, affecting the formation of the future terras de preto. So, we may hypothesize a certain capitalization of connections through compadrios, consolidated by baptisms, preventing or weighing in negotiations for the placement of their own roas, and against definitive family separations, or obtaining freedom for some individuals. Examples are the baptisms of “Filomena, freed in this occasion, natural daughter of Anna Maria, born in July of 1847, and the mother being slave of Ingino Gorgencio dos Santos Franco” and “Henrique, son of Gertrudes[the child] freed in this occasion by her Mistress” Belarmina da Suno Fraso, owner of the fazenda Nazar. Looking at the year of these

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209 baptisms, these processes seemed to me results of remarkable negotiations between slave mothers and masters, because since 1831, there were already attempts to prohibit the traffic of slaves, which was achieved by a law in 1850. Slaves were tightly kept, as since 1840 there were guarda campestres (rural police to control runway slaves) in each district, and after 1843, in each police station. In 1854 and 1876 there were decrees establishing taxes for each slave sent out of the Province of Maranho. Slaves were expensive commodities, and it was only in 1871 that all born from slaves were made free, a sign that slavery was really fated to an end. In addition, around these years, several manumission societies were founded (Arquivo Pblico do Estado do Maranho 1992). Interestingly, taking part in these relations were the saints themselves, as registered in the baptism of Philomena, a daughter born in 1849 to the slave Marinha, whose godparents were Joaquim Ferreira Lisboa Parga and Our Lady of Conception Damascena. Another girl also named Philomena was born in 1848, molata, free, natural daughter of Filicia, molata, freed; her godparents were Jovita Faustino de Moraes and Saint Philomena. My interpretation is that having saints and fazendeiros occupying the same symbolic function, godparents, side by side, could serve for either submitting masters to certain expectations of generosity or as an excuse for unwanted compadrios and related obligations on either sides. Another hypothesis is that the white father was godfathering his own “natural” child with a slave, and the saints were substituting for, and protecting against, the estranged wife. Current social values allowed and were allowed by these symbols, and were reflected in the gender relations represented by either licit or illicit unions, and criao, adoptions, and compadrios.

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210 According to the books of baptisms, through her unions and compadrios, the maternal grandmother of Vitalina, Dorothea, seemed to have managed to establish relations connecting different fazendas and landlords. The first registration I found about Dorothea was exactly in fazenda Monte Alegre: On February 21, 1871, in fazenda Monte Alegre, belonging to Captain Vertiniano Ferreira Lisboa Parga .In the same day, month year and place, I solemnly baptized and pour the holy oils on Sebastiana, daughter of Dorothea, slave of Dona Maria Gertrudes do Lago, born on February 15, 1869. Godparents were Major Silvino Ferreira Lisboa Parga and Maria (Ih)nora Nina Parga. Two years later, Dorothea was in fazenda Santa Isabel, which belonged to the master of Valeriana (Vitalina’s paternal grandmother), Raymundo Honrio Parga, where she managed to get one of her daughters, Violante, baptized by another Parga landlord: On November 15, 1873, in fazenda Santa Isabel, property of Captain Raymundo Honorio do Lago Parga, located in this Freguesia of Sam Luiz Gonzaga do Alto Mearim, I solemnly baptized and put the Holy oils on Violante, black, born on October 15, 1871, natural daughter of Dorothea, slave of Dona Maria Gertrudes do Lago; godparents were Joaquim de Almeida Parga and Dona Clementina Rita do Lago Vianna. And to register this matter, I ordered the settlement of this statement, which I sign. The priest in charge, Jos Gonalvez d’Oliveira. Eight years later, Dorothea’s two other children were in another fazenda, Santa Maria, being also baptized by landlords: On January 25, 1881, in fazenda Santa Maria, property of Manoel Joaquim de Vianna, located in this Freguesia of Sam Luiz Gonzaga do Alto Mearim, I solemnly baptized and put the Holy oils on Gertrudes, black, born in June 25, 1878, natural daughter of Dorothea, slave of the same D. Maria Gertrudes Lago; godparents were Raimundo Jos de A(ver)za and Ignez Anselma Alvez dos Santos. On that same day, after three-year old Gertrudes was baptized, so was her little sister Margarida Maria da Conceio, the mother of dona Vitalina: On January 25, 1881, in fazenda Santa Maria, property of Manoel Joaquim de Vianna, located in this Freguesia of Sam Luiz Gonzaga do Alto Mearim, I solemnly baptized and put the Holy oils on Margarida, black, born in August 1, 1880, natural daughter of the same Dorothea, slave of D. Maria Gertrudes Lago; godparents were Jos Antonio de Carvalho Bulho and D. Joana Gertrudes Correa.

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211 I had always considered the terecs, tambor de crioula, caixeiras and feasts of the Divine Holy Spirit, as the “authentic” rituals to be anthropologically studied in the terras de preto. They are indeed the expression of their capacity to combine their multiple life trajectories and, in such oppressive contexts, put symbolic and material resources together to form a people. However, this combination was also affected by their connections with other social segments, especially the fazendeiros, at that time. Therefore, I learned that these baptisms, gatherings reuniting fazendeiros and slaves when the priest showed up once a year or even less often, were also a ritual celebration of relevant symbols that constituted gender relations in Vitalina’s family. Through these rituals, I believe multiple forms of gender relations were intertwined with the complex history of these white and black social groups, which resulted in the formation of Monte Alegre. The selection of this specific ritual is part of my intention to answer the third research question of this dissertation. In Chapter 3, I focused on the perspective of the insiders of Monte Alegre, to respond to the second research question from inside out “How are gender and other social relations transformed in times of conflict, struggle, and political resistance?” However, as I respond to my third research question, “How do multiple forms of gender relations combine and evolve in specific trajectories of village formation and struggle?” I must reposition my perspective, as I believe we are here in the face of the formation of a village, whose very gestation is pregnant by contradictory forces exerted by antagonistic, and yet closely connected, groups. So, we are not going to discover gender in Monte Alegre as a cultural creation of an exotic, closed group full of “Africanisms,” whose uniqueness comes from its isolation, to be delivered to the world

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212 by a sterilized anthropologist. Rather, its uniqueness comes from the combination of these contradictory and antagonistic forces, which may, as we will see later, engulf even an unsuspecting anthropologist. This pattern of children being baptized in different fazendas by different landlords is observed throughout the book, including later years, when it is Margarida’s turn to baptize her seventeen children. In addition to the union with Vitalina’s father Zeferino (the son of Valeriana) linked to fazenda Santa Izabel, Margarida had previous children from Esa (born to Zaira in 1873) and from Raul (born in 1875), both linked to fazenda So Joo, property of Joo Jansen Pereira. This pattern would require a tri-dimensional genealogical tree, in which consanguine connections overlapped territorial networks. Examining this type of genealogy, we learn that Margarida is not simply a very fertile and short-lived woman, but a social agent who combined the given alternatives, and established specific gender relations in her partnership with Zeferino, Vitalina’s father. Margarida had had children from previous partnerships with Esa, Raul and others, giving her potential access to landlords and fazendas other than where she was born, expanding Vitalina’s relative territoriality. By the same token, Zeferino is not only the biological father of Vitalina, but also the one who helped to raise the children from Margarida’s previous partners, and who would later help to raise Vitalina. 6 In this sense, the long-gone partners Esa and Raul, for example, although biologically disconnected from Vitalina, are socially related to her through their sons, such as Pedro Valrio. This 6 Further research is necessary to understand what types of gender relations involve the representation of the absent, abandoning father. Innumerous interviewees consistently affirmed the unfairness of fathers leaving children with their mothers, but at the same time, interviewees have also stated that following partners cared for stepchildren fairly. As I have not seen loose “floating” single men around the village, I believe there may be a circulation of men throughout

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213 fondly remembered older brother raised Vitalina, after Margarida died in 1921, Zeferino in 1923, and grandmother Valeriana in 1936. 7 Therefore, the multiple forms of gender relations we are talking about are intra and inter generational, and not necessarily engaged by couples (Figure 4-6). Ipolito Parga 1856 1936 Valeriana Parga 80 D. 1824 Zeferino 1880 1922 Margarida Maria da Conceicao 42 1915 Vitalina Maria de Andrade 87 Dorothe a Theodora Raimundo Miguel Alice Dede Amalia Chica Castro Leonel Sebastiana Rosa 1869 Sebastiana Rita 1871 Violante 131 1878 Gertrudes Ana Maria Natividade Delfino Gabino Domingos Cipriano Antonio Jose "Bacharel" Sofia 1873 Esau 1875 Raul Crispim Pedro Valerio Figure 4-6. Representation of gender relations between brothers and sisters Therefore, the construction of dona Vitalina as a woman is not only due to gender relations between Zeferino and Margarida, but to gender relations connecting her to Valeriana, Esa, Raul, and to a whole social network, a people, necessary to raise her as a social agent: a black peasant woman now living on trabalho livre in its complete form, belonging to a village with its own land, facing a post slaving society. Rather then a “dysfunctional” genealogical family tree, I learned that the relations necessary to the female-headed households. The effects of these arrangements on roa and gender relations must be further investigated. 7 This system of child bearing could not overcome the social and material hardships this type of family faced. Even today, in Monte Alegre I obtained a ratio of 1.18 dead children/family among 53 interviewees, compared to 0.71 dead children/family among 354 interviewees of seven villages that were not terras de preto. Abortion and sterilization did not differ significantly from other villages: 31.4% had aborted (spontaneously or induced) and 39.6% of all women had been sterilized (70% of women in reproductive age).

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214 construct this type of family, and the woman Vitalina became, transcended marriages, 8 generations, sexual partners and the limits of fazendas, trespassing the boundaries imposed by these social and economic units of a slave structure 9 through compadrio and marriages links. Figure 4-7 shows fazendas connected through compadrios. Through the connections woven by women, multiple trajectories (involving those related to different slave owners and fazendas, and those who had not managed “good” compadrios as well) combined and evolved into the village in formation. The complexity of these relations is indeed increased when we try to fit the internal differentiation among former slaves. Recall that, besides the first 12 blacks (represented in the chart below by Cantdia, Ipolito and Valeriana), to whom Captain Vertiniano had sold his fazenda Monte Alegre, there was the feitor Leo, “who was not supposed to have any rights,” and later, non black and black moradores (new residents, supposedly with even less rights) came in. The feitor Leo had two sons, Antonio Raimundo and Delfino, with different partners. Meanwhile, Cantdia, one of the twelve blacks, had a daughter, Norata, who married Antonio Raimundo, the son of the feitor. Vitalina closed the circle by having Nazir with their son Waldemar (grandson of the feitor), and Elisete, Lin and Raimundo, with Joo Ferreira Parga (another grandson of the feitor). 8 See Bell (1997) for a discussion on the concept of marriage. For this chapter, I adopt Collier’s suggestion “to start from case studies to explore how people living in historically specific situations constitute and enforce different kinds of relationships” (Comments to Bell 1997:246). 9 A functionalist model would describe the functions of this pattern of marriages, criao, or compadrio institutions, and a functionalist-structuralist model would explain how the individuals’ welfare supposedly provided by this kind of marriages and compadrio contributed to the maintenance of the social structure. However, these models are not enough to explain either the present contradictions and resulting dispersions, or the different perspectives driving the disrupting trajectories adopted by the different actors. Slavery as a foundation of the socioeconomic system running these fazendas was formally abolished in 1888, and while different patterns of relationships emerged, this pattern of marriage and compadrio has also remained in diverse situations.

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215 Santa Isabel Figure 4-7. Map of So Lus Gonzaga with indications of some of the fazendas and localities mentioned in the narrative and interviews, connected by compadrios

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216 So we can see that internal differentiations were also negotiated through marriages and compadrios; while it is true that one of the elders commanded, couples were nonetheless the units to organize roas. I hypothesized that these marriages contributed to the fact that “the paper” (land document discussed in Chapter 3) was maintained and later appropriated by the descendants of the feitor. In addition, as the twelve blacks were the ones organizing roas, and the feitor was to take the production to commercialize, and pay for the land, we can also hypothesize that gender relations involved in these marriages affected the results of the trabalho livre in the “time of being owner of one’s self.” A relatively high frequency of additional marriages allowed the maintenance of a certain order, associated with power distribution via organization of roas, in the village formation. A ntonio Raimundo L ea o Zidoro Esperanca Delfino Joao Ferreira Parga Waldemar 1915 Vitalina A ndrade 87 Cantidia Natalia Firmina Norata Elisete Cleonice"Nazir" A ndrade 1880 1921 MargaridaMariaConceicao 41 Zeferino Domingos 1856 1936 Valeriana Parga 80 IpolitoParga Dorothea Lina Raimundo Figure 4-8. Genealogy representing marriages between the feitor family (yellow) and the families of the “twelve blacks” (green), and their descendants (blue) Multiple marriages, step paternity and maternity, criao, or compadrios are neither signs of a dysfunctional family nor synonyms of agreement and order. They are

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217 rather social arrangements to achieve these in the formation of a terra de preto. Compared to other villages that are not terras de preto, this unique pattern of multiple marriages still seems present in Monte Alegre: Table 4-1. Frequency and percentage of marriages in Monte Alegre and other villages Monte Alegre 7 other villages in the valley Men Women Men Women Frequency % Frequency % Frequency % Frequency % Only one marriage 22 48.9 26 50 306 83.8 314 82.8 More than one marriage 23 51.1 26 50 59 16.2 50 13.2 N 45 52 365 364 Certainly, the construction of gender in the formation of this type of family involved contradictions and discontinuities. Separations and decisions to establish a single headed household also take a significant role in the formation of gender in Monte Alegre. As an indicator, while the average of years in current unions in seven villages was 21 years, it was 16.84 (with median=16) years for Monte Alegre. In addition, in the seven villages, single females (including widows) directed 18.2% of the households; while in Monte Alegre, they were 25.5%. But this does not mean that being a single head of household is an accepted cultural norm, as Vitalina answered my question: “Why did you have to separate?” “It was because it did not work out [women can’t stand mistreatment, men going public with their extra marital affairs]” “And then, did you find another person?” “I found some around here, but[I did not join them] because the children were all too little, you know? But this whole thing is a stupidity. This is not wise. I had one, two, four, five [partners]. And then I said: ‘Now, I am going to raise my children by myself’. I thought I did not want men any more, but this was not wise, it was stupid.” “Do you mean, would it be better if you had stayed with a man?” “Yes, but instead I said: No, I will raise my children first. I ripped myself apart, and raised them.”

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218 In the beginning of my research, I started searching for a single pattern that could synthesize all gender relations in terras de preto, something like the Chinese concept of oppositional integration, an intrinsic male-female complementation, “ying-yang” type of family; or like Hamilton’s (1998) Ecuadorian “two-headed” type of family; or yet, Safa’s Latino patriarchal family. My first guess was a black matriarchy. However, as the research progressed, I learned that there was no single “expression” that could synthesize the multiple forms of gender relations in terras de preto or in the Mearim valley. But I did find a socially constructed “focus” or “emphasis” on the mother, suggesting a matrifocality. “I prefer to be killed, than my wife [be killed], because she is the one who knows how to deal with my children. She knows how to raise them, to give understanding. Pode continuar o tronco. She can make the stem continue” (Dos Santos, 42 years old). While Vitalina’s family may suggest a matrilineal family, in Dos Santos family, this is not observed, and yet, ambilineal families also exist. Matrifocality, however, is a preponderant notion throughout families in Monte Alegre. In these multiple forms of gender relations, the individual is never considered without a family, but a family can be considered without each individual father that “passes” through it, as its focus is the mother. This matrifocality does not imply a pattern of male subordination; rather, symbols and practices of male dominance rule the village. However, matrifocality involves constant challenges between men and women in their everyday practices, with greater autonomy for both. So, if I were to point a pattern, this would be a vital and constant engagement in these challenges aiming to maintain the autonomy of the family, as according to Vitalina, it is stupid to withdraw from these clashes.

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219 Clashes do not happen only within couples, but specific rules for gender relations allow “culturally organized” confrontations between males and females of different generations, in this type of family. Waldo’s daughter wanted to marry Juarez, against her father’s will. This challenge involves others in the village. Juarez was the son of Vitalina’s brother, and Juarez’s mother had given Nazir o primeiro leite, first milk. So, Nazir helped Juarez to plot a “stolen marriage”: When Juarez was planning to marry, people were not quite accepting his idea, but a moa, the virgin daughter, wanted to run away with him. So, he went to “steal” her. But he was the one to prepare her [to give her a complete outfit]; from head to toe, all the expenses were on him. He had already agreed with her: “such and such day we are going to run away to marry.” Then, he would “steal” her. If he could not make the expenses, he would not steal a virgin. But nowadays, they [young males] steal a virgin without any financial means! 10 Juarez stole her. We had organized it all. Everything was ready. We had to have an older person, to speak. From Juarez’s side, everybody already knew, and I guess some from the side of the moa too. That night she stayed with an older person, responsibleAt five o’clock in the morning, we started to prepare the wedding, the banquet, and after the banquet, we went to the moa’s houseEverybody had to get together again, to take her to the father’s house. The reason to have a whole lot of people is that in this way the father could not do anything, he would be embarrassed With that unique sense of humor and collectivity, people led the father to give up his power over the daughter. Nazir had helped Juarez in the scheme, so when Xexu, a 20 year-old son of a non black family, stole her own 13 year-old daughter, she just said: Listen, everything I did to Waldo, I had to pay back! The people knew that they [Lcia and Xexu] were making plans; the only one who didn’t know was me. I 10 Although clothing and other consumption goods are increasingly available to villagers, until as recently as less than two decades ago, people used to have just one better outfit, which they used for parties or to go to town. Usually, this was substituted for a new outfit once a year, and the old one used for winter working activities. Otherwise, young peers would make fun of Sebastio conhecido, a nickname for an old and well-known outfit worn to go to parties for more than a year (usually, major villages have one major annual party). This situation remains the same for those in the worst financial condition. But for a wedding, brides of all means expect a new dress, underwear, and shoes, in addition to soap, perfume (AVON would be an appreciated brand) and, if possible, a chest or suitcase.

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220 knew that they were staring at each other, butWhen I called: “Eh, Lcia! Eh, Lcia!” the people all over here were quiet, saying nothingThen, Nonata said: “If Lcia walked well, she is in Lima Campos [town] now.” I fell mute. I did not know what to say! But, then, mom [Vitalina] began to fight, she said she would get her back; that Lcia no prestava pr casar, was not supposed to marry. 11 Then, they went after Lcia’s father. [Vitalina wanted Lcia’s father to go after the runaway couple,] to get her back from Xexu, because she was not supposed to marry. At that moment, the whole people got together: “No, you know she is already gone, she is already there, porque vira, porque mexe, acaba que entorna, because if one messes around too much, one ends up losing it altogether.” So, the next day, we sat to think. Lcia married within five days, in which she stayed in the house of a respected elder, and Xexu in another house. Nazir went to Lima Campos to sign the papers, and they had a banquet in the village. This narrative represents to me the most beautiful expression of how multiple forms of gender relations combine and evolve in specific trajectories of village formation and struggle, because it shows how power is distributed and managed among a nonegalitarian people that have neither formal chiefdom nor state regulations, but prevent power concentration in specific families. This is how a little girl and a non black young man faced the power of the elder Vitalina and even of the spirits themselves, with the help of a whole network of people. Through the rules of “stolen marriage,” 12 trajectories benefited by privileges achieved by compadrios with landlords, power of specific ascendancies, and religious constraints are diluted in the village. 11 Here I am not sure whether the correct translation is “she was not supposed to” or “she was not ready to” marry. Besides the fact that Lcia was only 13 years old, and marrying a non-black was not the expected, she also was known to be sensitive to spirits. “Since she was in my womb, the spirits took over the house. I [mother] was in the room and it became crowded with them. I had never had this kind of things, and after delivery never had them again, but at that time I could feel remoo all the time.” Remoo are whispers, impressions, shivers, shades, while aparncia is an actual vision. Since she was born, Lcia goes through periods in which “the spirits take over her” and she may wander around, or drink a lot, or fall in lethargic states. “She needs to solve her things with them” going to terecs, umbanda gatherings. In 2001-2002, she built a large salon to receive the spirits. 12 Marriages are not the only form through which age, ethnic, and gender relations intersect to defy established forms of power relations within a village. Many daughters represent babau breaking as a form of resistance against dominant fathers, as this income gives them greater

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221 Nonetheless, these gender relations are not combined and evolved in isolation, but to constitute a village and obtain the cohesion necessary for the struggles it had to face. They were not restricted to the internal matters of the village; interactions with other segments were a constant. I use the transition from peasantry within formal slavery to peasantry in the realm of a post abolition society to identify diverse relations forming gender in Monte Alegre, which involved families of different social segments. At this point of my analysis, we can see how trabalho livre, in that period, in its complete expression as a unique form of labor from which gender cannot be dissociated, was articulated to the economic transformations surrounding Monte Alegre. However, a step back, to look at gender relations on the side of the masters, may help us to better realize the intrinsic connections between the Andrade slave family, and the Parga master family, and start, from there, to discuss a more relational, articulated, and critical contribution to a plural conceptualization of gender. The Pargas in the Construction of Gender in Dona Vitalina’s Family The available documents about Vitalina and her family were restricted to registration of baptisms. 13 However, we can learn more about gender in her family through the relations she had with the better documented white Parga masters. Following the “method” of Artemidoro (Foucault 1985: 35-42), a Greek interpreter of sexual flexibility in negotiating their autonomy. “In that time when we did not break babau, there were many moas, virgin daughters, subordinated to their fathers. . .que no eram libertas, they were not freed” (M. Alades, Ludovico). 13 It is important to remember that these registrations were intended to keep control over the slaves, as just a year after the previously mentioned law, a new Law number 236, of August 20, 1847, prescribed that all slave owners should report the number and names, age, color, and other characteristics of their slaves to the Justice of the Peace, who would send these reports to the Police Chief. From then on, “(article 1) in all places of the Province there should be Capites do mato, Captains of the forest, to capture runaway slaves.” About that time there was also the guarda campestre for about the same ends (Law 98/1840 and 144/1843).

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222 dreams, to make interpretations about gender relations, we must read these documents in their relational aspects. 14 Artemidoro urges us to identify the social position of the actors, their social profiles, and scrutinize their social relations, aiming to understand the relations of subordination and domination involved in gender matters. The subject of a gender relation is above all a social subject. Therefore, we need to analyze these sources of historical data, either a registration of baptisms or a registration of land donations, by decomposing their social elements. We cannot conceptualize gender as an abstract definition from a manual, a frozen fragment of a discourse. Rather, we must look at “the social actor as a main focus, his/her way of being, his/her own situation, his/her relation with others, and the position s/he takes in face of these others” (Foucault 1985: 41). Through the Book of Data Registration of Sesmarias and Datas (extension of lands) and the Book of General Registration, from the 18 th and 19 th centuries, we can begin to trace the Parga masters’ family. 15 Identifying its position and situation, through the relations between its “ways of being” and the ways of life based on trabalho livre, we can learn more about how multiple forms of gender relations combined and evolved to form Monte Alegre. Raimundo Ferreira de Assumpo Parga, who I deduced was the father of Captain Vertiniano, was an Alfferes Ajudante in the Provence of Maranho. 16 In 1742, Raimundo received a letter from the emperor D. Pedro renewing his patente, and confirming “the 14 My reading of Foucault led me to read these historical documents as expressions of “symbolic dreams” of the authorities and privileged subordinates (again, symbolic here does not mean not effective). In a single piece of paper, an emperor defines that all natural and social lives within a given extension of lands will exist under the authority of his protg. To interpret the symbolic power of these documents, I followed the method of Artemidoro. 15 Documents about the Parga family in the Arquivo Pblico do Estado do Maranho – APEM and the Land Institute of Maranho – ITERMA were obtained through professor Cynthia Carvalho, with support and transcriptions by Maude Cardoso Salgueiro.

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223 salary that he currently receives, which will be paid through my Imperial orders, and he will enjoy all the honors, privileges, liberties, exemptions and free services” inherent to his title. 17 Later, on 09/15/1803, a Letter of Sesmaria (a letter from the emperor of Portugal conceding large extensions of lands) was emitted to him. 18 Raimundo was not the only one in his family to receive the emperor’s benefits: in 08.11.1786, a Letter of Sesmaria had been emitted for Balthazar Jos de Assumpo Parga, conceding to him and his “ascendants and descendants” lands in Itapecuru. 19 My point here is to demonstrate that, while Valeriana and other slaves were combining their multiple forms of gender relations, weaving their network throughout different fazendas, negotiating the construction of their families and village through relations with different slaves and masters, the white Pargas were also establishing their own family. Differently than the village where privileges in accessing the land were relativized by the collective appropriation of the land as a common resource, and powers were negotiated through different forms of gender relations, the Pargas were using marriages and compadrios to concentrate the wealth and power among themselves. Through relations with the royal family and the colonial authorities, in one way or another, the white Parga family constituted itself, and did so as recipients of patentes and owners of lands and slaves in the Mearim valley. In addition to advantages obtained from their compadres’ slaves, these privileges were further consolidated and perpetuated through compadrios among themselves, and 16 Alferes Ajudante was a patente, a military title conceded by the Emperor. 17 Livro 2 de Patentes, fl 2277, Secretaria do Conselho Supremo Militar, 23 de maio de 1842 and Livro 20 de Patentes, fl. 216, Secretaria d’Estado, 20 de julho de 1842. 18 Livro 7, nmero de ordem 2, Registro de Cartas de Datas e Sesmarias, 1776-1824, fl. IV. 19 Livro 2, nmero de ordem 140, Registro de Cartas de Datas e Sesmarias, 1776-1787, fls. 136 a 137 – APEM – Arquivo Pblico do Estado do Maranho, Setor de Cdices.

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224 for their descendants. For example, Major Hercolano Firmino Lisboa Parga, owner of fazenda Conceio, and his wife dona Francisca Rosa do Lago had a child, Anna, baptized by dona Clementina Ferreira Nina Silva and Alexandre Ferreira Lisboa Parga, the owner of fazenda Santo Antnio. Marriages and compadrios among Lagos, Regos, Viannas, Ninas, Ferreiras, Pargas, Lisboas and other better-off families consolidated their fortunes and lands. This network of nuclear families narrowly watched gender relations between husbands and wives, who were their close relatives, to maintain the extended Parga family. Therefore, although the number of “natural” pardos and mulatos, illegitimate offspring of white and black was highly significant (children registered under their slave mothers’ names in the Book of Baptisms), the book also indicates that these formal marriages between masters were often lifelong relationships. Women owning fazendas under their own names were not rare. Nonetheless, I learned that “there were rules [by men to women] at that time.” White women dealt with these relations of subordination in different ways. While there were situations of mistresses, willingly or not, adopting or godmothering the so-called natural children of their husbands, there were also accounts of jealous mistresses. “When the mistresses suspected love affairs between their husbands and slaves, the slave was imprisoned in a leather sac, tied up to her neck, and left outside, urinating and defecating inside the sac, until her death” (Parquia de So Lus Gonzaga 1990: 2). Contemporaneous to accounts related to the myth of the good master, 20 and registrations of mistresses helping with slaves to establish good compadrios, there were indeed also accounts about unspeakable relations with those who “get lost in life.” These 20 In So Luiz Gonzaga, in contrast with the majority of Portuguese masters, the French owners of fazenda Cancelar were described as good masters.

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225 infamous intersections of trajectories by masters and mistresses, black men and women, also took part in the construction of gender in Vitalina’s family, and the formation of the village of Monte Alegre. The gender here constructed is not only the fruit of social relations between a black man and a black woman, but involved the jealous and/or submissive wife as much as the indifferent white lover or rapist. Vitalina became the woman she is now, not only through the relations she had with her different black partners and children, and ancestors who protected her by arranging white compadres, but also through the relations lived by the white men and women who affected her life. And these were the relations that led her to build gender relations based on trabalho livre aiming at freedom from cativeiro. Cativeiro can be seen here as the very result of how white men and women lived their gender relations as masters and mistresses. By the same token, the mistress was the woman she turned out to be not only through the gender relations among the white fazendeiros and fazendeiras, but also through the gender relations among black slaves and between them and slave owners negotiating their notions of race, economies, and politics. Therefore, I needed to review my worries about whether I was imposing a Western white notion of gender on the subjects of my research, and my pursuit of the “real” gender relations in Monte Alegre. The question was no longer whether I needed to choose between a white Western feminist or black feminist theoretical framework to explain how gender relations were combined to form Monte Alegre. The question became, instead, how social constructions of “woman” and “man” in dominant sectors are interlocked to constructions of “woman” and “man” in dominated sectors. I realized that any discourses and related methodologies that isolate the object of research, while fixing gender roles in static accesses, benefits,

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226 and control of fragmented resources, actually erase the subjects as political agents articulating their ways of life within dominant systems. They mask the contradictory social relations that take part in the construction of gender. They hide the dominant sectors as one of the subjects of the multiple forms of gender relations to be combined in the formation of a village. It is with this awareness on intersecting, articulated constructions of gender that I want to examine what happened to these gender social relations between and among former slaves and masters after the abolition of slavery. Searching for any actual ruptures in these ongoing processes of negotiation, I looked once more at the Parga masters’ family, in their post abolition activities. At that time in which slavery was about to come to an end, Captain Vertiniano had left his broken fazenda, and moved to the town of Caxias, where he kept receiving payments from the blacks of Monte Alegre. Members of the Parga family, such as Hercolano Parga and Igncio Lago Parga, were also present in the capital So Lus, where the former was involved in the immigration business to bring colonists to substitute for slaves. Igncio Lago Parga was one of the directors of the “Sociedade Auxiliadora da Agricultura e Indstria,” a company created a month before the declaration of the abolition, located in Camboa do Matto in the capital. According to Law number 1435 of April 17, 1888, this company was “in charge of sheltering the immigrants, receiving partial subsidies from the provincial treasure. No other expense will incur. The immigrant should arrive to this port at the expense of the general government under the ruling orders, and should be introduced to the interior of the province at the expense of those who contracted their services. The forementioned Society is charged with promoting the

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227 hiring of these immigrants through contracts. If the immigrants remain in their cultivation areas, soon an immigration wave will be established, like that which made the southern provinces of the empire prosper” (Annaes do Congresso 1888:8). After abolition, an extensive number of former slaves were either struggling to maintain themselves in the undocumented terras de preto, which they had worked or actually paid for, or searching for lands without landlords. Blind to them, the government and the many masters and compadres “Pargas” throughout Brazil promoted immigration to respond to the need for controllable and exploitable labor. Ways of life prescribed by gender relations based on trabalho livre were made invisible because, it had already been said that the black “only works enough to sustain himself” (Macedo 1855, cited in Lesser 1999:18), and they were looking for those who could sustain the emerging capitalist classes. In March 30, 1905, members of families that owned lands and slaves in the Mearim valley (Parga, Lago, Rego, and Bayma) were among the representatives in the Congress of Maranho, who launched the Repartio de Obras Pblicas, Viao, Indstrias, Terras e Colonizao, another project to bring in immigrants as the new laborers to sustain the state and public funds. Representatives wondered: “We know that the state of Maranho has a very poor agriculture, lacking workers who can, efficiently and precisely, using plows, to plant and produce, not only enrich the state, but bring money to the public funds.” “Who is going to plant?” “Naturally, colonists that are going to seek our lands. A project like this, no doubt, will attract those looking for jobscolonists or inhabitants of Piau, Cear and other states.” “And foreigners.” “Very soon we will have an agriculture to parallel our state with its other brothersMaranho is already known as the ‘Brazilian Manchester’, and certainly it will soon be a rival to the noble and powerful North America” (Annaes do Congresso 1905). Maranho became, instead, the poorest Brazilian state. Nonetheless, former masters occupied positions in the state government and were favored by creating several Public Services, which they directed, aiming to maintain their ascendancy in the new

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228 socioeconomic configuration. In our example, years later, the same Igncio do Lago Parga had left the closed immigration company, and was refusing a position offered at the Navigation of Maranho Company, as he was already employed in the Water Company of So Lus (Annaes do Congresso 1913:18). Immigrants came indeed, but the public budget was never balanced, and the State was never enriched. Meanwhile, at the national level, regional disparities grew because of international connections, and the Southern “brothers” of Maranho were creating the “world’s first commodity-producer cartel for its coffee in 1906” (Bushnell and Macaulay 1994:295). At the global level, the “noble and powerful North America” was extending its domains to other continents, impelled by its earlier industrialization. Although formal slavery was over, to respond to emergent markets, racism kept steeling “the nerves of the Manchester captains of industry as they lowered wages, lengthened the working day, and hired more women and children” (Harris 1968:106). In this way, a very specific context of expansion of capitalism was taking form, and this was the system (which included its own forms of labor and gender relations) with which trabalho livre (associated to its specific forms of gender relations) would be articulated. Meanwhile, to maintain their privileges, the former masters and emergent capitalists assumed national and international loans, setting up also an international net of financial connections, later transformed into so-called globalization, as another expression of capitalism affecting gender relations linked to trabalho livre. On February 5, 1913, the governor admitted that the state owed the double of what had been owed when he started, but refuted the newspapers “O Paiz” and the French “Le Brsil,” which

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229 were denouncing non payable international loans contracted by Maranho (Annaes do Congresso 1913:23). My intention here is to remind us that the answer to the question on how multiple forms of gender relations are combined and evolved to form a peasant village cannot be based on postulates that “predispose one to think of social relations not merely as autonomous, but as causal in their own right, apart from their economic, political, or ideological context” (Wolf 1982:9). Especially in terms of gender social relations, if we conceive them “as relations between individuals, interactions between individuals becomes the prime cause of social life” (1982:9). Certainly relations between female and male individuals within Monte Alegre by themselves, or between a black and white comadres by themselves, cannot explain the prime cause of social life in the process of its village formation and struggle. Therefore, to know how the multiple forms of gender relations were combined and evolved, we must look at compadrios within a set of fazendas, but, as the construction of gender relations are not frozen in a regionally restricted past, we need also to understand how other expressions of the dominant sectors affected this combination, in evolving articulations established in broader contexts. At this point I remind us of a good example for this dissertation of how politicoideological expressions of the dominant sectors were articulated to the struggles of the blacks in the period of the abolition of slavery. This is the example of how emergent Brazilian feminist movements dealt with the abolition of slavery. Through poems, 21 21 This excerpt from a poem illustrates how white women of dominant sectors perceived themselves as the main protagonists of the abolitionist movement: “Confiai em ns, que afrontaremos em vosso benefcio a fuzilaria dos soldados mercenrios e o ribombar dos canhes oficiais, se tanto for preciso.” (Ernestina Barros/ Ave Libertas – Herdeiras do Illuminismo 1885:100, cited in Ferreira et al. 1999). The abolicionist women encouraged the slaves to trust them, as they would face the challenges on behalf of the slaves.

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230 campaigns, funds and societies for manumission, women from dominant sectors found in the abolitionist movement, a propelling instrument to construct their own feminist movement. However, as Teles (1993) pointed out, the feminist movement displaced slave men and women as protagonists of their political movements, ignoring their tremendous struggles toward freedom, which included access to land. Whether masters or directors of Public Services, in the interior or capital, members of the dominant sectors were still enjoying the privileges conceded by a system that did not change much with the end of slavery. The proposed Public Services would not work against the national and international economic oscillations, and the organization of agriculture was no exception in the Mearim valley, where former slaves and immigrants continued to try to survive. 22 In 1930, the government authorized the promotion of foreign immigration to Maranho (Law 1395, of April 11, 1930), but did not present any policy concerning the situation of former slaves in the new society of classes. The struggle between blacks and whites seemed unchanged after abolition, although assuming new forms. However, looking for the intersections of gender relations among diverse social segments, and how they affected village formation in this historical transition, I had to review my narrow focus on white-black, master-slave dyads. To understand gender in our presently assumed multi-colored, free capitalist society, I needed a more inclusive and critical perspective. The Sakiaras in the Construction of Gender in Dona Vitalina’s Family Lesser (1999) has argued against a “black and white” view of the Brazilian society, which erases a multitude of social segments that, since they are non black or non 22 For example, to transport a bag of cotton from So Luiz Gonzaga by boat, “it cost 3:150 ris in the first year (1888) and lately (1901), 8:200 ris” (Annaes do Congresso 1901).

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231 indigenous, are made invisible, compressed into “white.” 23 Therefore, at this point of my research, to explain how the multiple forms of gender lived in Monte Alegre were affected by its articulation with the new capitalist system imposed on this multi-ethnic society, I focus on a family of Japanese immigrants. Choosing the narrative of my own ancestors is a research strategy I adopted to demonstrate that gender relations in the Mearim valley are articulated to gender relations in any other social formation around the globe. As Wolf (1982:385) concluded, “As we unraveled the chains of causes and effects at work in the lives of particular populations, we saw them extend beyond any one population to embrace the trajectories of others – all others.” 24 I myself began this research absolutely blind to my own connections to Monte Alegre previous to my first trip to this “exotic” place in 1986. Therefore, if I manage to demonstrate this articulation by connecting the allegoric trajectory of the “Andrade slaves family” with that of the “Sakiaras immigrant peasants,” the reader will find his/her own connections to gender in the Mearim valley. And then, we can properly answer my third research question, how multiple forms of gender relations have been combined and evolved to form the village Monte Alegre is today. By expanding the social visibility to involve apparently distant social segments, I aim for a more interconnected and self-critical view of my conceptualization of gender. I believe that the gender relations lived by the allegorical Sakiaras were in fact articulated with how gender relations associated to trabalho livre were lived in Monte Alegre, in trajectories intertwined with a complex general history. The history of these articulated 23 Some of the readings mentioned: Roger Bastides and Florestan Fernandes’ Brancos e negros em So Paulo ; Thomas Skidmore’s Black into White ; Carl Degler’s Neither Black nor White ; Lilia Schwarcz’s Retrato em Branco e Negro (Lesser 1999:11-12).

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232 inter ethnic trajectories has been denied and made invisible by the total history of development in Brazil, to justify the current relations of domination that organize our present society. Unmaking this continuous history, I attempt to find, in the disruptive ways of life, the explanation for the “invisible” gender relations I am trying to see. I focus on the Japanese peasants, among the many non white and non black ethnic groups integrating the Brazilian society, for three practical reasons: 1) their massive entrance at a time when eugenic discourses were widespread among Brazilian authorities, 25 2) its characteristic peasant family-based immigration, with a large number of women, 26 and 3) as a research strategy to involve the author in the analysis, as an invitation to the reader to join me in this virtual experience. Even before the abolition of slavery, to solve labor shortages in mono-cultural agriculture, the dominant sectors were already looking for ways to replace African slaves. The authorities aimed to form a Europeanized Brazil, needed “white hands” to “wash out” the “blackening” process already proceeding throughout the country. “There was a problem, though. European wage laborers were neither economically cheap nor socially servile. Soon a perfect new group was discovered. They came from faraway Asia” (Lesser 1999:12). If, in the beginning of the 19 th century, Brazilian leaders were worrying 24 I am not working with populations, but I believe that his statement is valid for ethnic groups as well. 25 By the beginning of the 20th century, politicians, Public Services’ authorities, and intellectuals (including anthropologists) were engaged in “improving” the Brazilian “race” by marginalizing the former slaves and controlling immigration. Boletim de Eugenia, Society of Friends, Central Brazilian Commission of Eugenics, and National Population Department were some of their means. In 1929, the First Brazilian Eugenics Congress debated non-European migration (Lesser 1999:72-73). It was a period influenced by Spencer’s social Darwinist ideas, such as “natural selection” and most “fit” social groups, applied to market relations, and the composition of social classes (Harris 1968:129-141). 26 94.5% of the Japanese entering Brazil between 1908 and June 1941came in as families; the men/women ratio was 128/100 – higher than any other group, and 98.8% were farmers (Fujii and Smith 1958:9-13)

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233 about the “Yellow Peril,” 27 and only a few Chinese could immigrate, by mid 20 th century, almost 200,000 Japanese had entered Brazil. Japanese diplomats promoted the Japanese peasants as “the ‘whites’ of Asia” (1999:82). Koyuki Sakiara 28 was born in 1891, in a Japanese peasant village, in Futami, in the city of Miyoshi, prefecture of Hiroshima-ken. She was born to a merchant and a daughter of a samurai. As the samurai could not accept the idea of having his descendant raised by a merchant, Koyuki was taken and raised by an aunt. At that time, the samurais had lost their power, and the family land was not enough for them. When she married Sakihara, he was searching for ways to get land of his own. Shigueru Osaki was born in 1903 in the town of Hasumachi, in the neighborhood of Hasugun, prefecture of Aichi-ken. His father was a sailor and his mother a dressmaker, and they had six children. He was able to study for 8 years in a public school and as he was a second son, he helped to care for the younger brothers, and with household chores. At sixteen, he moved to the town of Kawasaki . . . to become an apprentice of construction materials. At eighteen, he went to Osaka, to learn how to make sak, in the house of his sister, who had married a sak producer. Koyuki, Little Snow, was raised at a time when the samurais “used toothpicks even on an empty stomach,” so miserable and proud were they. In that shaky period in which Japan was dealing with Western impositions after two centuries of seclusion, 29 her grandfather endured price drops for agricultural products, heavy taxation to support industrialization, changes in political-administrative systems, and the dissolution of hereditary stipends (Bolitho 1977, Yamada 1999). By the end of the 19 th century, samurais, who once ruled rural production, were useless in a drastically changing 27 The fear was that either the “ugly and short” yellows would contaminate the Brazilian “race” or that they would not integrate at all, and leave taking wealth to their countries (Lesser 1999). 28 This narrative is a combination of one transcribed interview with my grandfather Shigeru in 1990, and conversations I had had with my now deceased grandparents Shigueru and Koyuki, and with my mother Kazuco Sakiara. When spoken in the first person, this is the speech of my mother. 29 The Japanese National Seclusion was a policy implemented by the Shogun, the governing leader of the samurais, who closed the archipelago boundaries from 1639 until 1854, when the U.S. forced its termination. The expansion of the U.S. economic domains was in plain course,

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234 political economy. Nonetheless, a male merchant (a lower rank in the previous system of castes) was still not good enough to raise the female descendant of a samurai, and a cohesive female network raised Koyuki as a woman of her village (Figure 4-9). My point here is that a specific combination of resilience and change in gender relations, combining social ranks, political economic situations, access to land, and international relations, were part of the formation of the “family” migrating to Brazil. So that, nineteen year-old Shigeru, a second male son, a noninheritor charged with house chores, benefited by his sister’s marriage, and was freed from the responsibilities of family business. A specific position for a male in the family rank defined his gender, allowing him to participate in the creation of a “migrant family,” and to find his way to Brazil. On the other hand, a specific momentum of capitalism expansion connecting Japan and Brazil, would place the labor of this woman and this man in an increasingly Westernized world (Figure 4-10). The characterization of this family and its gender relations was not only ascribed by itself, but also by how others perceived their identities (Figure 4-11). The poster illustrates a specific view of gender relations at that time. In the eyes of the Japanese emigration company, the breadwinner man carries his miniaturized wife and children to the new Promised Land. Meanwhile, Brazilian authorities were also debating on the gender of these immigrants. A member of the Instituto Histrico e Geogrfico Brasileiro compared Japanese women to African women, as they were “slaves to their husbands [and their] mothers-in-law” and acted as a “beast of burden” (Lustoza 1909: 84-85, cited in Lesser 1999). establishing new trading routes, and threatening Japan with warships to demand the opening of its ports.

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235 Figure 4-9. Koyuki (standing up) and friends dressed up for her farewell party Figure 4-10. Shigeru poses in Western clothes popular in the end of Taisho era (by anonymous professional photographers, in scenarios prepared for pictures, in 1922) Figure 4-11. Poster displayed in Japan, promoting emigration to Brazil in the 1920s 30 30 Emigration company (KKKK) propaganda poster (Courtesy of Centro de Estudos Nipo-brasileiros/ Museu Histrico da Imigrao Japonesa no Brasil, So Paulo – to dr. Lesser (1999:97)

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236 However, the contradictory practices narrated by my ancestors show that, to fit the demands of the formation of capitalism in Brazil, these relations were easily relativized and twisted. There, one day, . . . [Shigeru] read in the newspaper that the government would help those migrating to Brazil, and that the Kaigai Kougio Kabushiki Kaisha would be the company to take care of the migration process. 31 Shigeru went to apply for emigration, with three hundred other people from fifty families. However, the company did not accept families without at least three adult laborers. . . . By chance, he met Sakiara, a married childless man, who also wanted to leave for Brazil with his wife, Koyuki. They agreed that Shigeru would sign the papers as their son, changing his name to Sakiara. . . . The ship Kanagawa-maru left the port of Kobe in August, 1922. . . . They arrived on November, 1922 in the port of Santos, . . . they stayed for three days, until they left for the hiring fazendas. In 1958, a Japanese studying in the same Center at UF where I am now, wrote that, to deal with these emigration companies that required three “capable laborers,” “some people put together a temporary family consisting of adopted children, relatives, and even temporary spouses The difficulties arising from such family arrangements lead to serious problems and may damage the reputations of Japanese immigrants” (Fujii and Smith 1959:10). As a product of these arrangements, I would tell him that the difficulties my grandparents faced had not arisen from the “family” per se. Rather, furthering the “weirdness” of these family arrangements was the solution they found for the serious problems that arose from the fazendas system and racial discrimination. [In the hiring fazenda Vila Maria,] in addition to five Japanese families, there were Portuguese, Italians, Blacks, and Brazilians. They paid the colonists by coffee plant harvested, closing the balance at the end of each month. However, having to purchase food and other necessities from the hands of the fazendeiro, who always robbed them, the payment was barely enough for survival, and many adults and children died, because they were weak and could not resist malaria or its remedy, called Paludan. 31 “Late in 1917, Japanese immigration to Brazil gained impetus through the organization of the strong Kaigai Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha (Overseas Development Company). . . Beginning in 1923, the government made budgetary provisions for “emigration publicity.” . . . In 1924 . . . Japan concentrated her emigration efforts on Brazil” (Fujii and Smith 1959:6).

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237 Fifteen days after the arrival in that fazenda, Sakihara contracted malaria and died, because he was too weak from the trip and could not adapt to the different weather and food. Koyuki’s family sent her one conto for her return, but the ticket back to Japan cost seven contos, and besides, she had spent all the money they had with her husband. Alone and also sick, she was supported by her neighbors who helped her to locate Shigeru. He was traveling around, as he was designated to give shots to the sick, because there were not enough doctors to assist with the malaria in the rural area. Returning to fazenda Vila Maria, Shigeru was advised by his Japanese neighbors to marry Koyuki, because she had nobody else, and could not return to her family. They said it would be a good marriage, in spite of their 12-year difference of age. A year after Sakihara’s death, Shigeru and Koyuki married. . . . However, the Japanese embassy would never recognize this adoptive son as the widow’s husband. While the Japanese government ignored the unfair schemes set up by the emigration companies, the Brazilian government supported fazendeiros’ oppression of Japanese immigrants (Lesser 1999:89). Recalling the debates among the representatives in Maranho, warning against an on-going differentiation among states, we can see that the Sakiaras were the subordinated part in the booming coffee economy. This connected So Paulo to the international markets, contributing to the national scenario of regionally differentiated capitalist development. 32 In this context, Japanese were sent, and later moved by themselves, to different fazendas or colonies. Along with other ethnic groups, immigrants or former slaves and their descendants, they struggled with the conditions of their labor immobilization. However, these ethnically different groups were also differentiated by how their labor was appropriated. “The diverse groups brought together did, of course, make use of distinctive cultural forms to build ties of kinship, friendship, religious affiliation, common interest, and political association in order to maximize access to resources in competition with one another. Such activity, however, cannot be understood 32 This economic regional disparity reproduced throughout the decades still reflects the situation currently lived by the Andrade family in Monte Alegre, a place with one of the lowest HDI in the world.

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238 without seeing it in relation to the ways different cohorts of the working class were brought into the process of capitalist accumulation” (Wolf 1982:379). Indeed, neighbors and co-workers and, later, compadres of many colors helped the Sakiaras through the difficult times of their pursuit for a land of their own. A deep and intensive process of changes affected the Sakiaras as man and woman, and these changes were inextricable to changes in their perceptions of race, religion, and their social position in relation to the different segments, from the former black slaves to the Europeanized authorities. Many years ago, my grandmother had told me that, as a child, a circus once showed up in her village in Japan, and everybody was amazed at an African man shown in a cage, as no villager had ever seen such a “human-like being.” In the time span of her life, from such isolation and ignorance, she was soon getting lessons from many black partners to survive as a substitute for slave labor. Struggling on fazendas, she learned many strategies, including that of compadrios, which did not have a parallel in Buddhism. So, when their first and only daughter, my mother Kazuco, was born in 1928, in a taipa house in fazenda So Joo do Cazuca, with a midwife who was the middleman’s wifeit was a fazendeiro godfather who gave her a pair of calves (Figure 4-12). I found many similarities in the narratives of my ancestors and those in the Mearim valley: like slaves, “the fifty families who came together in the ship were sent to different fazendas and never met again;” the descriptions of what they ate: “pumpkins, beans, ground corn, jerked meat, collard greens, mustard greens, cucumbers, dandelion;” “the work started at five in the morning and lasted until sundown. There were no Saturdays, and Sundays were reserved for preparing the fuelwood for the whole week, for laundry, house cleaning, pork barn cleaning, and tool preparation.”

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239 Figure 4-12. Yellow and black workers in fazenda So Joo do Cazuca, em Conquista, Minas Gerais, where Koyuki and Shigeru worked as sharecroppers. Note barefoot women and child, in contrast with men in boots. The line of workers in the far background was probably of former slaves (by an anonymous photographer in 1928) Like many women in the Mearim valley, Koyuki “had an abortion and hemorrhaged, but was cured by medicinal plants.” Just like numerous maranhenses, they lost a child because of a simple disease. “He was the favorite of Shigeru, because he was a boyhe got sick with a cough, and there was no transportation to take him to the doctor on time.” These similarities affected the way gender was transformed in the immigrant family in these times of struggles: Japanese women frequently were separated, and had to rely on local women to learn the new ways to survive. Child mortality was high, opportunities for second and third sons more available, and male primogeniture reconsidered. Types of relations observed in Japanese villages, either in clan-type or in kogumi (community

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240 type), were transformed, and in Brazil, nihonjin kai, Japanese associations, were formed agglutinating almost every social group of Japanese peasants. 33 However, in spite of several similarities, the trajectory of my family, like that of many Japanese immigrant families, had a fundamental difference from those of enslaved, detribalized, and even from national immigrant families that constituted the peasantry of the Mearim valley. In societies conceptualized by Barth (1981) as a system in which multiple ethnic groups interact in their dependence on ecological and demographic adaptations such ours, the capitalist mode re-creates the heterogeneity of the labor force produced. It does so in two ways: by ordering the groups and categories of laborers hierarchically with respect to one another, and by continuously producing and re-creating symbolically marked “cultural” distinctions among themThe opposing interests that divide the working class are further reinforced through appeals to “racial” and “ethnic” distinctions. Such appeals serve to allocate different categories of workers to rungs on the scale of labor markets relegating the stigmatized populations to the lower levels and insulating the higher echelons from competition from below. Capitalism did not create all the distinctions of ethnicity and race that function to set off categories of workers from one another. It is, nevertheless, the process of labor mobilization under capitalism that imports to these distinctions their effective values (Wolf 1982:380) By stigmatized populations Wolf was referring to groups designated as “Indian” and “Negro.” Therefore, without need of any inter ethnic or intra class conflict, but by ordering differentiated forms of living labor, by playing with symbols meaningful to each social group, in spite similarities among them, “Andrades” and “Sakiaras” were articulated through hierarchical relations. Trabalho livre was either viewed as a “reserve army” of labor, or was simply disregarded and confined to social and natural environments of no interest to capitalism for the moment. Meanwhile, for the Japanese, 33 These forms of social organization were very strong among those who settled in the Amazon. In Maranho, Japanese groups were not so evident as those in the states of Par and Amazonas,

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241 racist criteria were balanced against the advantages of offering a type of labor perceived as subordinated and industrious, being gradually absorbed by the motions of development. This articulated ordering did affect how gender was constructed in Monte Alegre in two ways: On the one hand, it allowed a reasonably peaceful gap between “time of captivity” and “time of struggle,” the so-called “time of being owner of oneself,” in which multiple forms of gender relations could be combined and consolidated in trabalho livre as a unique form of labor. On the other hand, it also consolidated a capitalist society in which stigmatized values relegated the peoples living these discontinuous, disruptive forms of relations, to the lowest levels of citizenship. This permitted that police, judges, and the governor supported the capitalist entrepreneurs of CAMENA enterprise, who invaded the territories of Monte Alegre, against the villagers. Certainly the yellow Sakiaras had to negotiate their ethnicity and their own form of living labor throughout a long process, until they could find their places in the multi ethnic capitalist society. In several steps, my ancestors went through those loci of dispersion of points of choice, and because of each of them, for one reason or other, they ended up establishing the core of their living beyond the boundaries of their own social group. They lost the connections with the groups that gave them the meaning of their own ways of life, a people, a colony or a nihonjin kai. Initially, the Sakiaras were very tied to their ethnic group, or as Barth would say, in their criteria of belonging to a people, they ascribed themselves as insiders of an ethnic group, and were so ascribed by others. When the Sakiaras moved to a city, so that my mother could study, a network of Japanese friends helped them to install a small eatery close by the train station. but State Law 3.015, of December 28, 1969 authorized the executive to donate lands in Rosrio and Muruary to Japanese immigrants settled in Maranho (Shiraishi 1998:377).

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242 However, with World War II foreigners could not live within a 500 meter radio from the train station, and my father was forced to sell the restaurant within 48 hours. He exchanged it for 10 alqueires of land in the Fuji colony scheme, where we stayed for 2 years. But the soil was too sandy and heated easily, and cultivation did not work well. So, he began to raise silk-worms, building three large shelters. During the war, two contesting groups formed among the Japanese: [Doko-kai] the Kachigumi, the winners, who believed that Japan must continue to fight as it would certainly win; and the Makegumi, the losers, who thought Japan should surrender before further losses. I heard that the Winners were collecting yens, provided by the Jewish, planning to return to Japan to help with the war. 34 I believe there was bad faith, because the yen was soon devalued and many families were ruined. . . . The Kachigumi accused those raising silkworms, including my father, of siding with the Americans, because they said the silk would be used as airplane parts. 35 Forced to stop silkworm cultivation by his own fellows, my grandfather sustained the family by fishing in the Tiet river with other Japanese friends, but malaria got them, and he had to sell his tools and land in the colony. In 1946, through a well-connected Japanese friend, he met and began to work for Dr. Floriano de Almeida, a Microbiology professor at the University of So Paulo, who owned a former fazenda of slaves in Ilhabela, an island on the north coast of So Paulo (Figure 4-13). 36 With other Japanese families, my grandfather was planning to form a fishing business, while remodeling the fazenda’s casa grande for the doctor (Figure 4-14). 34 This part of the narrative illustrates how in that period of the capitalism establishment in Brazil, different forms of economies were articulated. See Weber 1950 for distinction of Jewish capitalism and Puritan capitalism. 35 “In 1942, Doko kai, a kind of totalitarian association, was organized to denounce the Japanese who were engaged in producing silk-worms and peppermint plants to export to the United States. The people in this association damaged the silkworm sheds and peppermint fields, in order to decrease production” (Sakai 1957:118-119, cited in Fujii and Smith 1958:49). 36 This is an illustration of the contradictory views on the introduction of Japanese immigrants in that period. Dr. Almeida hired Shigeru and sheltered Kazuco, who began to study in the college of Hygiene and Public Health at the University of So Paulo. Meanwhile, Dr. Arthur Neiva, another microbiologist who directed So Paulo’s Health Public Services, delivered “an anti-Japanese speech at the opening of the Oswaldo Cruz Nursery: . . . if we look for a solution to the problem of the lack of labor with scientific care and an eye to the future of Brazil, we will see that the Oriental races are unassimilable” (Vivaldo Coaracy, O Perigo Japons, in Jornal do Comrcio, 1942, cited in Lesser 1999:93).

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243 However, malaria was also there, and these families left the island after one of the families lost a sick daughter. But the Sakiaras could not return with them, as they had sold the land in the Fuji colony. Gradually, because of the effects of the war, malaria, and prejudice against the yellows, in search for their own land, my grandparents lost the everyday connections with immigrant Japanese groups, which had become their extended family. Koyuki then cried: “Shima nagashi ni sare chiata! I ended up cast away on an island!” Even so, Shigeru loved the island because it reminded him of the land where he was born in Japan, and above all, because there, in 1947, he finally was able to get his very own 22 hectares of land. Figure 4-13. Casa Grande, literally big house, of fazenda So Matias in Ilhabela island Figure 4-14. Kazuco in front of her taipa house, for the yellow workers who came to remodel the casa grande Like Vitalina, he used to say: “This is the place where I am going to stay until the end of my life.” And when people asked him: “And what about the mosquitoes?” “Ah, the mosquitoes are good because if it were not for them, I could not buy my piece of land.” With their land and without their own people, the Sakiara family finally met the allegorical “Andrade family” of their lives. The Sakiaras begin to interact with the many

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244 descendants of slaves and Indians, among the caiaras, peasants living on roas and fishing, in villages surrounding the former casa grandes and throughout the island. Many caiaras had never left the island. They walked barefoot all the time, and if they happened to step on a spike, they simply took it out with a knife. The soles of their feet were thick as shoes. They lived on fishing, cassava, beans, sweet potatoes, sugar cane and fruits like bananas, oranges, jackfruits, mangoes, anans and cashew. They were not used to eating garden vegetables, only a little collard greens, chuchu, pumpkin, and lima beans. They raised chickens, and some had pigs and cows. The heads of households went once a month to sell bananas and buy cooking oil, coffee, sugar, and medicines. Cassava flour was made on their own lands. The clay stoves were made on the floor, fuelwood was little sticks gathered in the surroundings, and water was from the waterfalls. It took years until my grandfather could plant his own roa, because of his “war” against the ants and the hard grass, which covered the land degraded by the slave-based monoculture system. So, the Sakiaras began to produce seaweed sheets for sushi, to sell to Japanese restaurants in So Paulo, trying to remember how it was done in Japan, and adapting to the island resources (Figures 4-15 and 4-16). Here is the point where I resume my analysis of interconnected constructions of gender relations among differentiated social segments: My father hired his caiara friends Vitalino, Maneco and Tiozinho, who helped him to bring bundles and bundles of hard grass, which were cut, pealed and woven. My father made a loom, and my mother and I wove about 500 mats in a year. 1 On the day we agreed with the caiaras to work on the seaweed sheets, we used to wake up at 3 in the morning, or at ‘the first crow of the rust’ as we agreed with the caiaras, who did not have clocks. My father prepared bamboo torches, so that they would come through the trail from Portinho where they lived, to Ilhote, as there were no roads at the time. 1 To make seaweed sheets, square frames of wood were placed on open mats made of sap hard grass straws, which were hand-woven with cotton threads. A mixture of water and seaweeds were spread on the mats, within the molds that contained the mixture. The water dripped out through the straws, and contained by the frame, the seaweed attached to the mat. The mats were placed in the sun on inclined structures made of bamboo and sap grass, and once dried, the seaweed was taken out as a sheet.

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245 Figure 4-15. Koyuki, Shigeru, and the caiara workers, designated in the caption originally written by my mother, as funcionrios (employees) of the fbrica de nori, factory of seaweed sheets (1954) Figure 4-16. Maria de Bamb, a descendant of Indians, and Pedrina Ribeiro, a descendant of slaves, who worked for the Sakiaras (without date) About ten people would come to work with the seaweed, and by the end of the day they would take other torches prepared with kerosene, for the next day. It was delightful to see the row of torches moving in the night, people arriving to work with the seaweeds. We had a gramophone and my mother used to buy records, from that time of the 1950s, 1960s, by Nelson Gonalves, bolero, tango, which we played while we worked. Each time she traveled, the caiaras waited anxiously for the new music. I am not sure how the caiaras perceived this idea of awakening in the middle of the night to work for the newcomers, but in the Mearim valley, “the night was left for the animals to walk, it is not for people to mess around.” I did not yet research adequately my grandfather’s bookkeeping, but the payments in cash and striking of balances were registered. 2 I do not know the exact details of how the surplus labor was extracted from the caiaras and from the self-exploitation of the Sakiaras themselves. The work was performed from period to period, according to seasons, and it is unlikely that by itself it 2 “Capitalism is present wherever the industrial provision for the needs of a human group is carried out by the method of enterprise, irrespective of what need is involved. More specifically, a rational capitalistic establishment is one with capital accounting, that is, an establishment which determines its income yielding power by calculation according to the methods of modern bookkeeping and the striking of a balance” (Weber 1927:275).

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246 could alienate the hired caiaras from their own means of production. Besides, as the narrative goes, joined labor and exchange of goods and services were also performed: My parents were the godfather and godmother of many baptisms and weddings. My father enjoyed planting vegetables and distributed them to his friends, who were not used to planting them, and he received many seedlings of coconut palms from people of Pombo and Julio. My father had many caiara friends who used to fish together in canoes, to weave nets and make traps. Antonia de Belm, who has passed away, was a great friend of my mother, and we still have a rose plant that she gave us when I was young. Dona Mariquinha became comadre with my mother; Abigail was her goddaughter, and so was Ditinho, son of Aristides of Portinho. She was also the wedding godmother of Maria, wife of Japo, a light mulatto who had eyes of a Japanese [a descendant of Indian and black]. So were many others whom I can no longer remember. Between 1945 and 1948, especially in Portinho, in the southern part of the island, there were many cases of leprosy. I went to meet with three families in which the sick no longer had noses, the lips were nibbled, the fingers rotten. There were so many caiaras with malaria that, many times a line formed in our house so that my father could give shots. On stormy days, he went to their houses, to medicate those who could not move. However, parallel to this exchanging of services and goods, a specific form of relations of production took place. The fact is that, at the very bottom line, it was through the seaweed business that the Sakiaras became micro-entrepreneurs, and could establish the gender relations that constructed their daughter as a self-reliant, college graduated, woman. It was through these relations of production that the Sakiaras managed to legalize, maintain, and improve their means of production, including the regeneration of their land. Meanwhile, the caiaras, like most descendants of slaves in the Mearim valley, one by one, ended up “selling lands, losing their canoes, and most of them turned into housekeepers of the rich people who were buying the whole island.” While men began to work as gardeners, women served as maids. The cativeiro had returned, for the so-called blacks and Indians, while through the articulation of their specific economic

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247 combinations and socially differentiated labor, the Sakiaras could move forward in the economic scale. After she graduated, my mother Kazuco got a job in Public Services in a large city, and in 1955, married my father Miyasaka, an agronomist also in a governmental job. Joining the multi-ethnic Brazilian middle-class families, they raised their five children with the support of several black maids, who passed through our lives “as if they were of the family,” without ever really being. At this point of the Sakiara Miyasaka family’s trajectory, a sensitive passage in the whitening process of the “yellow peril” was overcome, as they were integrated to the development forces of Brazil. My grandparents remained on the island until my grandfather “died in May 1994He came home from the garden for a coffee break, sat by the little lake in the backyard, took off one of his boots, and silently died of a stroke, with his hands dirty with the land he loved.” My parents worked in Public Services until they retired, and gradually our childhood on the island became an almost folkloric, sparse memory of the years we lived with the sons and daughters of seu Vitalino, dona Maria, seu Manezinho, and other caiara compadres of my grandparents. We became part of the multi-colored national society as a nuclear family, keeping many categories and relations that evolved according to interactions related to our origins, but as integral parts of the continuous order and progress of Brazil. The fundamental difference is that the Japanese immigrants never passed through slavery. In addition, differently than many non white immigrants and the descendants of slaves subject to racism, the discrimination against Japanese also had a strong reaction from Japanese and Brazilian politicians and authorities (Lesser 1999). It became a matter

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248 of public debate. The social position of the Sakiaras, early debated as race, and later as ethnicity, found its placement in the Brazilian society of multi-ethnic classes. A process of de-historicization led to a hierarchical placement that valued the Japaneses’ labor, while sending the blacks to the lower social ranks throughout the country, and invented the interior of Maranho as an exotic, isolated place, inhabited by “very black people.” This process of de-historicization led me to grow completely unaware of the hardships my ancestors endured. I came to know about the bizarre marriage of my grandparents, the meaningless death of their son, and their challenges, only as an adult. My family never admitted being an object of racism, in the same way its perpetrators never admit being subject of racism, and in this tacit agreement, subjects and objects perpetuate the instrumentality of racism. In this way, we naturalize the situation of its present victims. This same process of de-historicization naturalizes blacks in certain places, doing certain things, behaving in certain ways, and above all naturalizes the hierarchical placement of the anthropological Other. Therefore, the contrast among the allegorical families Andrade, Parga and Sakiara aims to de-naturalize and historicize the contexts in which they were articulated, and combined their multiple trajectories. As an anthropologist, I must recognize that, the understanding of myself as a woman and an author was constructed in the context of a family, which emerged through the articulation among diverse, hierarchically positioned, segments. My own gender cannot not be dissociated from the capitalist labor, in a system that while incorporates my family in a multiethnic society, promoted a naturalization of the devaluation of the blacks’ labor, especially trabalho livre. It is with this specific internalization of gender relations that I was raised, went to college, married a descendant of white immigrants,

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249 ended up working with the people of Monte Alegre, and became an author who writes about gender in the terras de preto, now made into my anthropological Other. Conclusion In this chapter I examined the construction of three families: the Andrade slaves, the Parga masters, and the Sakiara immigrants. My objective was to study the construction of gender in each of the families, and the relations interconnecting them. Attempting to expand narrower black-white, slave-master views of the slave-based society, the contrasts among the constructions of gender in the three families helped me to better visualize gender in the Mearim valley within our so-called multi-ethnic, free capitalist society. An analysis of class formation, in the transition from slavery-based to the Brazilian society of classes, helps us to understand the differences in gender relations in the first contrast presented (between the families of the white masters and black slaves). However, other instruments of analysis are needed in the second contrast (between the former slaves and introduced peasant immigrants), because categories and relations of capitalist production were not always fully present in their interactions. Ethnicity is a concept to delineate the differentiation among the groups, and interconnected gender relations can be examined in the interactions performed in social scenarios placed in their ethnic boundaries. Nonetheless, the fact that among all social groups, in the Mearim valley and throughout Brazil, ethnic groups formed by black descendants of slaves have been continuously at the economic bottom of the working class, demands further discussions on the concept of ethnicity. Looking at the differences and similarities between former slaves and those who came to substitute for the slave labor, and the criteria defining their

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250 ethnic boundaries, we can detect how constructions of gender relations in one ethnic group were privileged against the other. This would make the “black peasant woman engaged in trabalho livre in a land of common use,” a construction subordinated to the construction of a “non black woman engaged in capitalist labor in development.” In this chapter, therefore, we have seen that constructions of gender relations are not only diverse and interconnected among the groups, but also and above all, are interconnected by relations of domination/subordination. Such relations may not be so visible as those in master/slave, white/black relations, but certainly permeate interactions in our everyday, multi-ethnic, free and competitive lives in the capitalist society of classes, because these are the relations that have formed us as the men and women we are. They are indeed present between the never sufficiently criticized tycoons of capitalism and the neo-enslaved sweatshop proletarians. But they are also present within the social movements and community-based sustainable development projects. Searching for the meaning of gender in dona Vitalina’s family, these relations found between the subjects of my research in Monte Alegre and my Self, allowed me new visibilities, and gave me insights to an expanded, and yet, self-critical, conceptualization of gender.

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CHAPTER 5 A QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS OF GENDER RELATIONS IN A PEASANT ECONOMY IN THE MEARIM VALLEY Introduction Through the first four chapters of this dissertation, we have discussed how ways of life in the Mearim valley are centered on trabalho sem patro, both a material and symbolic set of social relations from which gender relations cannot be dissociated. We have learned that these ways of life have emerged from multiple life trajectories, delineated through dispersion of points of choice, but interconnected in the formation of a people, from slavery through the struggle for land and political resistance, and “development” efforts. We have seen that multiple forms of gender relations have been intertwined with a general history, which has been denied and made invisible by the total history of global and national society. These discussions were based on ethnographic accounts of social situations related to contexts in which access to land and forests were managed in one way or another. This chapter examines some quantitative data regarding these situations, to consolidate some of the concepts obtained ethnographically, before we depart for situations at the margins of the social movements, where access to land and forests are rare, in villages where I had never been before. Examining diverse trajectory in different contexts, I have discussed ways of life centered on trabalho sem patro, both a material and symbolic set of social relations from which gender relations cannot be dissociated. In Chapter 1, in present the peasant concept, I have discussed how the peasant economy in the Mearim valley 251

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252 diverges from the capitalist economy because of its basis in this trabalho sem patro, relations of production in which labor surplus is not necessarily extracted from laborers and turned into capital. In this chapter, I want to demonstrate that the peasant economy in the Mearim valley also differs from other peasant economies for which the unit of production coincides with the unit of consumption, such as those discussed in Chayanov’s theory. In the Mearim valley I observed that, while for production matters, the unit of analysis is the household, consumption should be analyzed at the village level. In this economy with unmatching units of analysis, I learned that gender relations assume a central role in establishing the economic logic and practices linking families with diverse trajectories to the village, as a peasant social unit. My intention in discussing the significance of gender in understanding, through quantitative methods, this type of economy is to critically review dominant and utilitarian discourses, promoting what has been labeled as “sustainable development” and “gender and development.” By examining variables delineating family and village economic processes and disaggregating these data by gender, I expect to contest some common assumptions based on narrow views of gender categories, such as generalizations about men’s invariable privileges against women, and a strict focus on gender relations between wives and husbands. These assumptions mask the most relevant aspects of the material and symbolic effects of the male dominance. Methods In order to accomplish this, I explore observational data gathered in eight villages of the Mearim valley, which quantitatively measure subjects’ responses on the variables related to the material conditions delineating their economy. I delimited my survey areas within contexts circumscribed to the specific social and environmental realms with which

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253 I was already acquainted. First, I delimited my research sites to ecosystems related to the Cocais ecological zone, as it would control for some economic and ecological variables. Second, to formulate the first concepts, later tested against other social situations, I took only villages where a significant number of peasants had relatively secure access to land. 1 I selected villages fitting these conditions as clusters, interviewing most of the families of each cluster. By analyzing these data, I intend to clarify the economy in which and through which symbolic and perceptual aspects are constructed to link the families together and form a village, and also how the resulting “effect of trabalho livre at village level” influences the families. What I am calling the “effect of trabalho livre at village level” is the economic expression of specific social constructions that turns physically aggregated households into livelihood units identified as centers or povoados, villages, in the Mearim valley. Rather than standardized sets of individualized households, differentiated by the number of residents or volumes of production or consumption, the village here considered is the interaction, negotiated in political grounds, between its dwellers’ agency and the conjunction of its historical, ecological, demographic aspects. The data consist of 103 variables related to demography, agricultural and extractive production and consumption, health, reproduction and other gender issues, education, social organization, and social security. The survey was carried out through 434 structured questionnaires applied to the male or female head of household to cover the intended population. This represents approximately 3% of the residents of the Mearim 1 My research design proscribed quantitative methods to deal with villages where the most significant social situation was the lack of access to the land, because of the paucity of my little previous contact with them. Discussion of this aspect of my research will be presented in the concluding chapter.

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254 valley, which had around 15,246 rural establishments (a proxy for families), in the designated rural areas (IBGE Censo agropecurio 1996), totaling approximately 69,256 people (IBGE Contagem da Populao 2000). Most of the variables examined were not dichotomous, but I took 434 as a satisfactory size of the sample for this population size at a 5% confidence interval based on Krejcie and Morgan’s (1970) formula, as my ethnographic fieldwork allowed me reasonably secure interpretations. Theoretical Perspectives I chose Chayanov’s theory of the peasant economy to guide my data analysis, because of his clear step-by-step demonstration of the distinctiveness of such an economy using quantitative economic data. This may be a contested choice, though. Critiques on the populist romantic views imbued in his neoclassical study point out a certain trend toward “right wing” intentions, and advantages in sustaining the idealization of peasants as distinct “noble savages” enjoying a coherent bucolic rural life (Kearney 1996:76-77). 2 In addition, by privileging individual families as units of a static analysis in his methodology, Chayanov minimized Marx and Lnin’s conceptualization of the antagonisms and conflicts involved in social differentiation, working primarily on an ahistorical examination of family life cycle stages. This would erase the complexities of social relations between families within and among villages and between them and other sectors of the society. Instead, examining censuses as old as 1767, Chayanov pointed out that social differentiation among peasants had existed for quite a while without essentially altering its unique economy. Although recognizing that capitalist markets can 2 Chayanov responded to similar critiques of idealization and romanticization of peasants’ petty bourgeois mood, resistance, and historical stability, in his 7th chapter of the Theory of the Peasant Economy.

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255 cause social changes, he focused on demographic factors, mainly variation in family size throughout its life cycle, as the major factor for social differentiation. I recognize that these limitations to the Chayanovian approach undermine the possibilities of a theoretical foundation for an economy like that of the Mearim valley, which is so intrinsically a product of social antagonisms. Nevertheless, my choice is based on a characteristic of his methodology that was very necessary to this quantitative step of my research: the ability to formulate grounded concepts, extracted from basic data and notions, counting on detailed censuses, and starting from the empirical evidences collected in a long-term, in-depth research process. These methodological procedures helped me to avoid overinterpretations as an author and prevent overintellectualization of material practices. I am working on perceptions and interpretations, which will be better understood if I have a clear visualization of the material that the subjects are perceiving and interpreting, so that I myself can state my own interpretations contextualized in an adequately examined material realm. Applicability of the Gender Concept In the Mearim valley, the fact that women are the drivers of extractive activities aligned their social movements to mainstream discourses of so-called sustainable development and gender and development. Leaders of ASSEMA, Movimento Interestadual das Quebradeiras de Cco Babau, Cooperatives and Associations have found, after much effort, support from international and national agencies of cooperation. The establishment of this joint process allowed increasing public expression and advances in their political emancipation. Notwithstanding, these articulated efforts happen in a field bursting with development discourses. And, as Kurian (2000:130) warns us, if we scrutinize them at the ideological level, we will learn that the values promoted

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256 by these discourses are “based on a flawed value system, namely utilitarianism.” Utilitarianism is the validation and vindication that give reason to the goals of the enunciators of these discourses. My point here is to call attention to the fact that the utilitarianism sustaining discourses of development may pervade the processes promoted by the leaders of social movements and agencies of cooperation. I have observed situations in which the demands of these processes have induced rhythms and postures that have also made the political significance of their trabalho livre, as everyday gendered economic relations, invisible. The recognized social movements have paid little attention to the effectiveness of the links established through gender relations at family and village levels against the antagonistic relations with dominant sectors, ignoring these as forms of resistance and foundations for genuine political advancements as peoples. The invisibility of the modalities of trabalho livre, as forms of resistance operating these links, leads to an impasse, once the economics of these links begin to collide with the utilitarianism sustaining the development discourses. In situations in which the utilitarianism permeates the projects (carried out by village members participating in these recognized movements and by agents of cooperation), trabalho livre may become more vulnerable, subordinating gender relations that cannot be dissociated from it. Therefore, although the discourses development has promoted “gender” as instrumental to its goals, and because the projects carried out by social movements and agencies of cooperation are placed in a field mined by these discourses, a constant and intense effort is needed to rescue the visibility of trabalho livre as a form of resistance lived by the people of the Mearim valley.

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257 Although actions funded by institutions such as the World Bank (e.g., Northeast Rural Development Project) 3 seem apparently parallel to the relatively minor actions promoted by the social movements, their effects are intertwined in the field of development. These institutions represent compromised interests in a dialectical system, which while having some interests coinciding with those of the peasants, such as forest conservation or economic improvements or promotion of gender equality, often have divergent views on them. The responsibilities of the social movements and agencies of cooperation to the peasantry are key to deal with these coincidences and divergences. A good illustration is the most current and significant World Bank project for the State of Maranho, “Rural Poverty Alleviation Project,” a loan of U$ 80 million equivalent (with additional 25% of state government counterpart). According to the project, “the Bank will seek stronger sustainability of the poverty projects, including increased cost recovery, project designs that increasingly target development of the poor and not only poverty relief” (World Bank 1997:12). What does exactly “development of the poor” mean? How are they going to “recover the costs”? Is a “developed poor” one who is able to pay back the costs? I believe this project, which affects the field of development where NGOs and grassroots organizations circulate, is a challenge to social movements in the Mearim valley, as the project prescribes them as key instruments to promote its goals. This challenge is even more significant because “[A]s the principal donor engaged in a sustained, long-term partnership with the Brazilian Government to 3 This project, following the unsuccessful POLONORDESTE (1970s to early 1980s) loan, was known as Projeto Nordeste, created in 1985, reformulated in 1993, and extinct in 1996. It funded several economic projects through APCR, Program of Support to Rural Communities, in the Mearim Valley.

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258 address rural poverty issues in the Northeast, the Bank is particularly well placed to support this next phase of development initiatives for Maranho” (World Bank 1997:13). In terms of gender, within this development initiative, “women” are treated as a separate topic in the only paragraph addressing them in its 144-page-long document, as the project must “target groups and activities in which female participation has proven constructive” (1997:34). 4 Women I have interviewed do not think there is a single group or activity in which female participation has not been constructive, and their practices can hardly be separated from overall production. It seems that, “the Bank has indeed made some strides toward gender-sensitive social policies, but so far these appear more cosmetic than real. Bureaucratic inertia, an ideological commitment to economic rationality and an internal masculine culture resistant to feminist reforms have resulted in marginalizing both social and gender concerns in development policies” (Kurian 2000: 131). In terms of environmental sustainability, for areas perceived at the margins of the focus of the main Amazonian environmental concerns such as Maranho, poverty is the issue. Environmental aspects were treated in two paragraphs, as “the proposed projectwould not have a significant effect on the environment” (World Bank 1997:33). My ethnographic research led me to believe that, while for peasants forest conservation is a means to achieve the goals of ways of life based on trabalho sem patro, for the institutions mentioned, forest conservation is a means to achieve the goals of a development model in which trabalho sem patro does not have a defined role yet, if it 4 Most of the goals related to early WID (See Kabeer 1994) set in this project were already discussed and overcome by the current WID approach. The confusion regarding women and gender approaches within the World Bank was discussed by Moser/World Bank 1999, but not all sectors within the bank are updated or adopting the findings.

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259 ever will. Debates whether they are indeed distinct modes of production, or whether they are or are not articulated or integrated, are not conclusive yet, at in least in the practices of development projects. In sum, although with common interests, practices related to sustainable development as proposed currently collide with basic premises of peasant livelihoods. In the Mearim valley, these challenged premises are related to the agrarian and environmental issues of the peasant system of production, especially trabalho livre, which, as we have seen in the previous chapters, are the foundation for the construction of the meaning of being a man and being a woman, and gender relations. By struggling for means of production related to a specific mode of production, peasants aim for control over their own labor and products. However, such struggles are, at the bottom line, not only about labor and products per se, but about a whole way of life that prescribes self-determination in approaching land, forests and labor allocation. Although agents of sustainable development in principle recognize such self-determination, in the practicalities of projects, common use of territorialized land and free labor as a way of life still do not fit in the models dictated ultimately by market rationalities. My goal in this chapter is to examine a few aspects of the intricacy of this way of life, scrutinizing the economics of gender among their overall social relations. Assessing gender relations in the light of the economics of the family and the village in their struggles for the land and forest resources highlights the possibilities and limitations of relations between peasant organizations and institutions related to development. In the next section of this chapter, I focus on the links between family and village following Chayanov, and contrasting his findings with those in the Mearim valley. In the subsequent section, I introduce a gender perspective into this discussion, describing

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260 specific economic aspects throughout people’s life cycle. In the fourth section, I link material and perceptual aspects of their economy. In the last section, I summarize the chapter, integrating some qualitative findings with this quantitative data analysis. On the Economics of the Family and of the Village Chayanov’s cornerstone contribution for the study of the peasantry is the clear demonstration that peasants have an economic logic and calculus of their own, which is definitely not an earlier stage or undeveloped form of the so-called rational or capitalist market oriented economy in a formalist 5 sense. Chayanov argued for a sharp distinction between peasant and market-oriented decision-making due to a peasant’s goal in maximizing consumption demands of the family, and not those oriented toward profit. He analyzed how a family’s consumer/worker ratio evolved for the Russian peasants along their family life cycle, being one of the determinants of their economy, measured by variables such as area sown and volume of production. I needed some adaptations to his approach to deal with the specifics of the Mearim valley and of my own research design. I began by looking at descriptive statistics and experimenting with correlations and regressions between variables involving the following aspects. (1) Family demographics: gender, age, education, relation to the respondent; composition of household, number of previous marriages, control over children and possessions of separated couples, type and years of current marriage, causes of temporary separations, family size and origins, and location of members residing off-home. (2) Production: selected ecosystems, areas of cultivation, and amounts of rice, beans, cassava, and corn produced; number of members involved in extractivism, days 5 For the debate between formalists and substantivists see Herskovits 1952 and Dalton 1961. In short, formalists state that economies studied by anthropologists have mostly the same economic logic and institutions as the Western capitalist economy, so that the difference would be of degree, and not of kind. Substantivists affirm that these economies differ substantially.

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261 allocated, amounts of babau kernels and charcoal domestically consumed and commercially sold in both seasons, and ecosystems of gathering and extraction; areas in pastures and permanent fruit trees; and number of husbandry and livestock; days spent in each stage of agricultural activity. (3) Consumption: consumption index of each family member, amounts of consumed staples, meat, and basic industrial goods, such as kerosene, salt, oil, sugar, coffee, detergent and soap. (4) Income from wages: labor sold and purchased, nature of the transaction, type of activity, main and accessory activities performed, changes in labor allocation, date of access and use of social security. (5) Reproductive health: number of children born at home and in the hospital, number and causes of abortions and infantile deaths, age of infantile death, number, causes, location, year, performing doctor, and costs of sterilization, access to birth control methods. (6) Social mobilization: type of and reason for engagement in grassroots organization, by gender. Chayanov found that the area sown and the production obtained by each family were a function of its consumer/worker ratio, which varied along its life cycle. I therefore sought to replicate his analysis by finding the household-level correlation between the consumer/worker ratio and indicators of production and consumption. However, for eight villages I studied in the Mearim valley, the household consumer/worker ratio shows no significant correlation with slashed area in 1997, 1998, and 1999, or with rice production or consumption, or with the difference between rice production and consumption. Rather, data since 1988 have shown that average slashed areas have remained mostly around 3.4 linhas, or about 1 hectare, per family. Table 5-1 shows that the correlations between consumer/worker ratio and the suggested variables are weak. The p values show that there is a high probability that any association between them happens only because of chance. Therefore, consumer/worker ratio determines neither area slashed nor rice produced.

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262 Table 5-1. Correlation between consumer/worker ratio and production, consumption and production minus consumption of rice and slashed areas in three consecutive years in eight villages Slashed area in 1997 Slashed area in 1998 Slashed area in 1999 Rice producedin 1999 Rice consumedin 1999 Rice produced minus consumed in 1999 Consumer/ worker ratio Pearson correlation -.067 -.080 -.024 -.036 .020 -.050 P value .195 .121 .633 .475 .689 .324 N 373 380 412 402 410 397 However, my fieldwork did not allow me to conclude that the economy in the villages studied in the Mearim valley was not a peasant economy, nor did I assume that market forces were driving their production matters. I began to include other variables in the study, now guided by my observations in the field. The inclusion of other factors led me to realize that the family life cycle should be viewed within the village life cycle, and also that families must be studied within each village, which in its turn is a distinct, although integral, entity within the valley. Although I had tried to control for some environmental, historical, and geographic aspects through the site selection, I learned that each village has been combining and was affected by these aspects differently.This suggests that villages should be taken as units to be compared. Analysis of variance between means of the variables presented in Table 5-2 shows that each village differs significantly from the other villages. The significant F-scores indicate that there is substantial variation at the village-level in terms of every variable in Table 5-2. This suggests a ‘effect of trabalho livre at village level” in addition to intravillage household differences. For each variable considered, there is a good probability that the variability between villages is higher than the variability within each village, and it is not because of chance. The variance among villages is not observed only between villages with different consumer/worker ratios, but also between those with similar ratios. Bom

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263 Princpio and Monte Alegre, for example, have about the same number of members per family and similar consumer/worker ratios, but both their rice production and slashed area per worker were significantly different. Table 5-2. Descriptive statistics for some demographics and rice production Village Mean Bom Princpio Coroat Ludovico Pau Santo S.Jos Mouras Veloso Monte Alegre S.A. dos Sardinha F People/ family 5.75 4.90 4.86 4.11 4.35 4.05 5.87 4.07 4.763*** Children/ family 4.19 3.53 3.09 2.33 2.67 2.25 4.13 2.67 5.617*** Consumer /worker 1.23 1.20 1.29 1.25 1.22 1.35 1.26 1.54 3.588*** Produced rice/family 929 707 392 958 730 859 608 1130 3.946*** Produced rice/worker 342 301 148 377 316 472 206 918 2.521** Slashed area/worker 1.65 1.52 .94 1.82 1.42 2.11 .82 3.53 5.053*** Rice consumed/ family 702 594 809 920 743 722 793 617 3.699*** Rice produced consumed 221 123 -417 20 8 142 -167 510 5.497*** ***p<0.001, **p<0.01, *p<0.05 The F-scores above led me to further investigate this variance.Rather than looking at each family separately, Figure 5-1 suggests that the diverse shapes of the frequency distributions of families’ consumer/worker ratios in each village affect the production of rice. Also, my qualitative data indicate that outliers in the village, the cases representing extreme values for the variables studied, have effects on this relation. For example, in Bom Princpio there are families who produced close to 6,000 kg of rice in the researched year, when the average for this village was less than 1,000. For the variable consumer/worker ratio, Ludovico presented outliers with ratio of 2.77, while the average was 1.29. In Chayanov’s theory, this ratio taken at the family level is above all an indicator of how labor provided by the workers in each family is going to support consumers of that same given family.

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264 In the Mearim valley, however, labor allocation or labor capacity in a single family is neither the only nor the best indicator of consumption matters of that family. Rather, I suggest that villages must be considered as units of analysis because, as we will see later, social relations within and among families, especially gender relations, affect the circulation of labor and products in the village and therefore, consumption. Differentiated geography, history, and environmental conditions are indeed part of the explanation of why villages are distinct, but my field observations led me to consider people’s agency in combining village natural resources and their own human resources. I am calling the effect of how villagers integrate these natural and human resources within their territories as the “effect of trabalho livre at village level.” The figures below show three aspects of this effect: frequency distribution of family size, consumer/worker ratio and production of rice. In Table 5-1, we saw that there is no correlation between each individual family’s consumer/worker ratio and its production of rice, but the above visualization of the frequency distribution of these ratios throughout each village suggests a correspondence with the frequency distribution of rice production. Greater attention to the effect of trabalho livre at village level requires adaptation in methodological procedures. Analysis of variance detects difference between means, but at the village level we should look at the composition of frequency distribution among families, which drives the difference between means. Also, if we take households as units of analysis, we can disregard outliers, but taking villages as units of analysis, we can see that they are significant parts of the village as an organic entity.

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265 Number of family members14. PrincipioFrequency3020100Std. Dev = 2.56 Mean = 5.7N = 75.00 Consumer/worker ratio2.922.612.301.981.671.361.05Bom PrincipioFrequency403020100Std. Dev = .14 Mean = 1.23N = 75.00 production of rice kg/year576948463923300020771154231Bom PrincipioFamilies50403020100Std. Dev = 917.32 Mean = 929N = 75.00 number of family members14. Dev = 2.78 Mean = 4.9N = 60.00 Consumer/worker ratio2.922.612.301.981.671.361.05CoroataFrequency403020100Std. Dev = .14 Mean = 1.20N = 60.00 production of rice kg/year576948463923300020771154231CoroataFamilies50403020100Std. Dev = 627.38 Mean = 707N = 59.00 number of family members14. Dev = 2.18 Mean = 4.9N = 66.00 Consumer/worker ratio2.922.612.301.981.671.361.05LudovicoFrequency3020100Std. Dev = .32 Mean = 1.29N = 66.00 production of rice kg/year576948463923300020771154231LudovicoFamilies50403020100Std. Dev = 518.70 Mean = 392N = 66.00 number of family members14. SantoFrequency3020100Std. Dev = 2.77 Mean = 4.1N = 46.00 Consumer/worker ratio2.922.612.301.981.671.361.05Pau SantoFrequency403020100Std. Dev = .38 Mean = 1.25N = 46.00 production of rice kg/year576948463923300020771154231Pau SantoFamilies50403020100Std. Dev = 848.52 Mean = 958N = 30.00 number of family members14. Jose dos MourasFrequency3020100Std. Dev = 2.14 Mean = 4.4N = 48.00 Consumer/worker ratio2.922.612.301.981.671.361.05Sao Jose dos MourasFrequency403020100Std. Dev = .18 Mean = 1.22N = 48.00 production of rice kg/year576948463923300020771154231Sao Jose dos MourasFamilies50403020100Std. Dev = 639.51 Mean = 730N = 47.00 Figure 5-1. Family size, consumer/worker ratio and production of rice in eight villages

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266 number of family members14. Dev = 1.86 Mean = 4.1N = 56.00 Consumer/worker ratio2.922.612.301.981.671.361.05VelosoFrequency3020100Std. Dev = .47 Mean = 1.35N = 56.00 production of rice kg/year576948463923300020771154231VelosoFamilies50403020100Std. Dev = 778.61 Mean = 859N = 54.00 number of family members14. AlegreFrequency3020100Std. Dev = 3.20 Mean = 5.9N = 55.00 Consumer/worker ratio2.922.612.301.981.671.361.05Monte AlegreFrequency403020100Std. Dev = .32 Mean = 1.26N = 55.00 production of rice kg/year576948463923300020771154231Monte AlegreFamilies50403020100Std. Dev = 490.27 Mean = 608N = 51.00 number of family members14. Antonio dos SardinhasFrequency3020100Std. Dev = 1.88 Mean = 4.1N = 28.00 Consumer/worker ratio2.922.612.301.981.671.361.05Santo Antonio dos SardinhasFrequency403020100Std. Dev = .78 Mean = 1.54N = 28.00 production of rice kg/year576948463923300020771154231Santo Antonio dos SardinhasFamilies50403020100Std. Dev = 1685.50 Mean = 1130N = 20.00 Figure 5-1. Continued I give an example. At the village level, outliers like senhor Acio, a resident in Santo Antonio dos Sardinhas awarded a prize by Embrapa 6 and able to produce 400 alqueires of rice in 4 hectares, help to explain why some produce little and consume a lot, and can still survive. The rice produced by senhor Acio is consumed by his family and sold in the market, but also ends up on the tables of those producing less than they consume. Therefore, it would be a mistake to eliminate this outlier, assuming that the village average for consumption or production would remain the same in its absence. My field observations indicate that this distribution does not necessarily involve donations or market relations, but usually exchanges without surplus extraction. Looking at the village 6 EMBRAPA is the Brazilian Enterprise for Agricultural and Livestock Research.

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267 as an organic entity, outliers are essential to understand how a village sustains itself, as they are essential elements affecting the village life, and part of the balance of production vs. consumption. Therefore, the consumer/worker ratio of each individual family per se does not present the same significance as for those individualized farms studied by Chayanov, because inequalities between production and consumption are not necessarily explained or solved at the household level. Carrying out fieldwork in each village, I learned that the peasant economy in the Mearim valley is highly dependent on the economics run through gender relations, within the household surely, but also within the village, and between them and other sectors of the society. In the next section, I discuss how gender takes part in the effect of trabalho livre at village level, throughout stages in the life cycle, to demonstrate the connection between gender and peasant economy in the Mearim valley. On the Economics of Gender Throughout the Life Cycle Raising Boys and Girls: “Girls Are Put on Girls’ Work and Boys on Boys’ Work” As early as 7 or 8 years old, boys and girls are assigned to gender differentiated activities. Girls begin to accompany their mothers or grandmothers for babau breaking, and take over small tasks at the house. Boys follow men in their activities at the roa, or older brothers in babau gathering, and watch them deal with the livestock. “At that time there were lots of jaguars, and I used to go to the forest as a companion for me velha. When we arrived there, she used to break a babau palm leaf for me to lie down on.” “Who was me velha?” “I used to call my grandmother me velha, old mother: Me velha, tomorrow I am going to bring an ax! And the next day, my father sharpened an ax and gave to me.” “And how old were you?” “I was 6 to 7 years old. I could not break open the nut [for lack of strength], then, me velha broke it open in halves; she hit it again, breaking it in four slices and gave them to me. Then, I began to take out the kernels. She broke another fruit and another one, and put them there for me, and I kept working my way to get the kernels out with my ax. By the end of the day, I had half a liter of kernelsthe next day I went again, and what I know is that by the end of the week, me velha didn’t

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268 need to break open nuts for me anymore. I myself looked for those small fruits, with thin husks, fit for my strength. I fetched them close by my ax, and by the end of the week, I could already get one whole liter of kernels, which I exchanged for candies” (Lia, 58 years old). While girls are initiated in babau breaking, boys are assigned to what is called servio de menino, kids’ jobs, which are to serve as messengers, carry small volumes to roas, gather babau with older brothers, and then later, begin to take food to roa and participate in coivara, gathering of slashed branches and trunks and organizing them in alleys, and other activities of roa, until they are ready to slash at age 17 or 18. But dona Antonia, Monte Verde, tells how age appropriateness for each job is also a matter of the necessities of each family: My son began to slash at age fourteen. When my husband abandoned me, with my children, my father began to teach my son. They decided to have a roa nearby, na beira, on the margin of the forests [so he could watch him]. My father would mark a square where my son would slash. I helped them, selling my pig, or a chicken or a goat, using the money to pay a laborer to slash the thicker trees and slash the old leaves of the babau palms. So, my boy began to work too soon, do you believe that, my lady? Consistent field observations led me to realize that intergenerational relations have a strong connection with gender relations in economic activities, and they reinforce a gender division of labor, in the sense that, in the absence of the husband, the grandfather assumes the roles assigned to men: demarcating the land, deciding the first day to plant, and slashing. The same happens to grandmothers in the absence of mothers. It is interesting to notice that although the symbolic male role remains as the driver of roa through the grandfather, in practice, the mother needs to assume the costs of roa, paying laborers. Children are raised as men and women through these situations in which symbolic and practical meanings may not always coincide, and these contradictions are

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269 part of the construction of gender, which is then formed as a strategy to survive in antagonistic contexts. In addition, ethnicity also takes part in the construction of gender, as in the case of terra de preto, where girls assume tasks in roa longer and more consistently. Raising children by the way of working was assumed by the villagers to be a common task: IWe made a polito de criana, an army of children. It was a crowd of kids. Today, we are going to the roa of my dad, tomorrow to this other kid’s dad, and so on the whole week. We worked like that, only kids. NAnd who commanded that? IIt was like this: when we worked in a roa, in the roa of the father of this boy [for example], his father was who commanded. Next day, we worked for another. All the kids went together, and the fathers commanded, and in this way we worked a lot here. This is how we all grew up into rapaz and moa, male and female young adults. (Maria Amlia, Santo Antonio dos Sardinhas). Although boys are more engaged in roa than girls, in terra de preto girls are more related to roa than girls from other types of villages. Peasants who do not live in terra de preto recognize that becoming a rapaz and moa in terra de preto is a different social construction than their own: “pros pretos, a mulher pega na roa mesmo, de menina a moa, tudo criada na roa” (to the blacks, women work at roa for real, from girl to young female adult, they are all raised working in roa). In one way or another, children are taught to view and deal with economic resources and systems as managed through gender relations defined in the cultural set of the villages, and by the same token, to perceive themselves as boys and girls by the way their labor is assigned. Quantitative data can show the economic effects of this gender-based livelihood. As both daughters and sons start to work at about the same age, investing about the same time and energy and, although distinct, their tasks are interconnected, I attributed adult equivalents for labor and consumption equally for both genders, varying only

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270 according to age. The number of daughters (269) and sons (291) living in the studied households indicates that daughters leave their parents’ house slightly earlier than sons, and partially explains the lesser amount of labor provided by daughters. Marriage and schooling are the most common causes of this labor withdrawn. In my sample, women married on average of 4.08 years earlier than men. For a Chayanovian model, this means that at exactly the time when daughters are about to contribute labor in the household with an index of labor close to 1 adult equivalent, they are withdrawn from the calculus. Taking a village or set of villages as the unit of analysis, however, it would not really matter because they would be counted as 1 adult equivalent as they constitute new households within that unit. Taking 434 families, the average labor (measured in adult equivalents) provided by girls was 0.63, with std dev=0.99, and by boys was 0.81, with std dev= 1.10. Children’s labor is invested in several activities between roa and house, but central economic aspects are observed in agricultural activities performed in roa for the production of rice, and extractive activities to obtain babau kernels. In Table 5-3, we see less significant, lower correlations between the amount of labor provided by daughters, as compared to sons, and the size of the household roas in 1997, 1998, and 1999. On the other hand, the amount of kernels obtained either in the summer or in the winter are significantly more affected by labor provided by girls than boys. These findings indicate that gender influences the decision-making process related to strategies of production and, in this case, rates of deforestation. Controlling by age, if a family has more sons than daughters, it is likely the family will slash more forest. If a family has more daughters

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271 than sons, it is likely that the family will slash less forest and will have more income from extractive activities. Table 5-3. Correlations between labor provided by daughter and sons, and size of roas in 1997, 1998, 1999 Area slashed 97 Area slashed 98 Area slashed 99 Babau kernels sold (winter 99) kg/week Babau kernels sold (summer 99) kg/week Labor by girls 0.135** 0.095 0.109* 0.173*** 0.243*** Labor by boys 0.222*** 0.161* 0.213*** 0.075 0.116* ***p<0.001, **p<0.01, *p<0.05 Using regression models to measure how significantly labor provided by sons and labor provided by daughters can predict areas slashed for roas, we learned that labor provided by sons has a significant effect on the outcome, while labor provided by daughters does not, as shown in Table 5-4. Although the intensity of this significance varied throughout the years, probably because of variation in weather and land availability conditions, a consistent pattern indicates that gender does have an effect on amount of forest slashed. Table 5-4. Slashed area in 1999 regressed on labor provided by daughters and by sons Independent variables Model 1 Model 2 Constant 2.919*** 2.892*** Labor provided by boys 0.575*** 0.545*** Labor provided by girls 0.077 R 0.47 0.48 F 18.088*** 9.128*** ***p<0.001, **p<0.01, *p<0.05 Model 1 includes only labor provided by boys as the independent variable. Results show that boys’ labor has a positive association with slashed area, and is highly significant. Boys’ labor alone explains 47% of the variation in slashed area. The constant, unstandardized B coefficient indicates that for every additional labor unit provided by sons, the slashed area is increased by 0.6 linhas. Model 2 introduces labor provided by girls as a control variable. The R increases from 0.47 to 0.48, meaning that labor provided by girls accounts for only 1% of variation

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272 in slashed area. The value of F, highly significant in both models, shows that labor made available by sons better predicts the outcomes regarding area slashed than by daughters. In this model, we have a much smaller B value for labor provided by daughters than that for sons, and the effects it had on the outcomes for area slashed were insignificant. These effects of gender on area slashed can also be observed in the actual production of rice, shown in Table 5-5. Table 5-5. Production of rice (kg) regressed on labor provided by girls and by boys Model 1 Model 2 Constant 710.619*** 650.938*** Labor provided by girls 57.278 0.076 Labor provided by boys 116.203** R 0.005 0.026 F 1.873 4.913** ***p<0.001, **p<0.01, *p<0.05 Model 1 includes only labor provided by daughters, which does not have a significant effect on the amount of rice produced by their families. In Model 2, as we include labor provided by boys, there is a reasonably significant probability that for every additional son in the family, an increase of 116 kg of rice/year is observed for a family producing 650 kg/year. In these models, labor of daughters does not explain any variation in the production of rice, while boys’ labor accounts for 2.1% of variation. Similar results were found for effects of daughters’ labor on production of beans, cassava and corn. These findings, shown in Table 5-6, led me to examine the provision of babau for the household income, as this is an activity assigned to women, in the division of labor. Table 5-6. Regression modeling daughters and sons’ labor as predictors of amount of babau kernels extracted and sold Independent variables Model 1 Model 2 Constant 22.830*** 22.645*** Labor provided by girls 3.620*** 3.424*** Labor provided by boys 0.385 R 0.45 0.45 F 16.556*** 8.355*** ***p<0.001, **p<0.01, *p<0.05

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273 In model 1, which includes only labor provided by girls, a highly significant F score indicates that girls’ labor can better predict variation of babau production than boys’ labor. For every extra daughter in the family, an additional 3.6 kg of babau kernels/week (averaged between rainy and dry season production) will be produced, while for each extra son in the family, we will observe only an additional 385gr of kernels. While girls’ labor explains 45% of the variation in the amount of kernels obtained, the unchanged R indicates that boys’ labor does not account for any variation. 7 We can conclude from this that labor from children is assigned, according to gender, to specific activities, and that this assignment is reflected not only in the strategy of land and forest use the family will adopt, but also in the degree that these strategies affect family income and the sustainability of the ecosystems used. Children learn the meaning of being a man or a woman with this strong connection with what he or she does (Whitehead 1991), and for that reason, the economic realms of roa and babau extraction are understood and defined as male and female realms. We will further pursue this discussion in the concluding section. In the next section, we will examine gender differentiation in the allocation of teenagers’ labor in productive activities against schooling, which also is part of the effect of trabalho livre at village level in a next stage of the life cycle. Growing as Young Women and Young Men: “The Older Ones Tried, But as the Work Got Heavierout of School!” Education became part of my research because there were indications that teenagers had poor performance or withdrew from school to attend to labor demands. I 7 This does not mean that boys are not relevant in babau production. They are important in transporting babau fruits, which will be broken by women at home. But once they do this work, women will invest their saved labor and time in something else besides breaking more babau.

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274 examined the gender differential between education among adults, and boys’ and girls’ opportunities to leave work and get education. The survey involved sex, age, and level of education of 434 couples and 3,906 children and unmarried youth, with 1,266 of them currently attending school. Table 5-7. Descriptive Statistics of years of successfully completed school years, by gender Test value=0 N Mean Std. Deviation T P Women 359 1.57 2.11 14.057 .000 Men 322 1.51 1.97 13.727 .000 Girls 570 2.28 2.27 Boys 696 2.02 2.19 Regarding adult male and female heads of household, women have spent slightly more years at school than men. This coincides with the census at the regional level. Among children, the average of successfully completed grades in formal education is very low for regional and national averages in present days. However, respondents have stated that both supply and demand for formal education are increasing in the researched area. This is also consistent with the census obtained at the regional level. The illiteracy rate was 33.5% in 1989, 23.9% in 1995 and 12.7% in 1999, but this is still far behind the Southern regions, which present around 1.4 %. 8 Although keeping the same interregional disparity, 9 the percentage of children out of school in this region decreased from 15% to 5.9% (IBGE/PNAD 1999). However, for the surveyed villages, as we can see in Table 8 The document, Fatos sobre a Educao no Brasil, by the Ministry of Education, which refers to 1994-2001, affirms that regional, economic and racial differences are significantly decreasing. 9 The Ministry of Education launched a program named Recomeo, Re-start, to stimulate 15 to 29 year-old young adults to return to school, in the poorest 1,255 municipalities in Brazil, which are located in Northern and Northeastern regions, and have the lowest HDI, according to the UN. The IBGE Census also showed that illiteracy rates were higher in these municipalities, and the federal government is proposing Projeto Alvorada to promote the universalization of elementary and middle school education (Jornal Estado de So Paulo 8/4/2001).

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275 5-8 below, there are some gender effects on these percentages (I coded value 1 for girls and 2 for boys). While order of birth does not affect years of school for boys and girls, gender and age have a significant effect on years of school completed. Table 5-8. Years of school completed regressed on order of birth, gender and age Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Constant 2.231*** 2.644*** 1.940*** Order of birth -0.194 -0.203 -0.051 Gender -0.264* -0.282* Age 0.044*** R 0.002 0.005 0.042 F 2.410 3.413* 18.331*** ***p<0.001, **p<0.01, *p<0.05 Analyzing order of birth only, for both boys and girls in Model 1, the negative association is not significant by itself. Model 2 adds gender as a control variable, and there are some significant variations between boys and girls as compared to variation within each category. As I assigned value 1 to girls and 2 to boys, the results are negative, meaning that girls have a third of a school year more than boys. Model 3 introduces age as a third explanatory variable, and as expected, age is highly significant in explaining variation of schooling for both girls and boys. There are 18 times more difference between than within each age group. It is important to notice that although age can explain 3.5% of the variation, for each extra year of age, only an additional 0.04 year of schooling is observed. This significant, but absolute small variation, is because there is not much variation in schooling for children in extreme ages. The variation is so little because, for the youngest, preschooling is almost nonexistent, and for the oldest, either because there are no middle schools in the villages and those who left the village for continuing studies in town were not included in my survey, or because when they were of school age, rural education was not so targeted by the government.

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276 In sum, although not strongly significant, there are indications of gender inequalities in school attendance, favoring girls against boys. This is observed in the field, as culturally assigned tasks for boys demand intense labor concentration in specific periods, while babau breaking and female tasks in roa allow greater flexibility for girls’ labor allocation. Field observations on oldest sons’ work in roa led me to check on order of birth separately for boys and girls, and results are in Table 5-9. “There are two [sons] there at home that will be left behind. It was not that they did not want [to study], but with seven children, it is hard to care for all of them. So, the two older ones studied up to when they needed to workthey came late from roa, running, when there were tests, they did not study because there was no time” (Otavia, 47 year-old, Lago dos Rodrigues). Table 5-9. Education regressed on order of birth for boys only and for girls only Independent variables Model Constant 2.222*** Order of birth for boys only -0.422** R 0.009 F 6.503** Constant 2.243*** Order of birth for girls only 0.063 R 0.00 F 0.111 ***p<0.001, **p<0.01, *p<0.05 The gender effect is more strongly felt when we consider order of birth separately for boys and girls. First and second born sons are significantly more deprived of educational opportunities than their siblings: 0.42 year of schooling less, in most of the families, but especially on female-headed households that correspond to 19% of the households. They tend to withdraw from school, and even postpone their own marriages. This is another aspect that reinforces the intergenerational character of gender relations, in a situation in which male labor (older son) is subordinated to female control. The F score indicates that the variability of schooling between the first two sons and the rest of

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277 the brothers is 6.5 times the variability within each group. This does not happen among girls. In addition, young females have more opportunities to continue their middle and high school studies in nearby towns, as there is a demand for part time female housekeepers. 10 At any rate, this section suggests that generalizations that are heard in many meetings in women’s groups in the Mearim valley, such as “girls have less access to education, because parents did not want them to write letters to boyfriends,” do not accurately portry gender inequalities everywhere. Rather, they worsen the inequality as it makes invisible deprivation of rights by other categories not so fashionably targeted by international and national institutional agendas, such as boys in woman-headed families. These inequalities suffered by both women and men, girls and boys, are part of the peasant way of life as much as they are part of the social exclusion exerted by the dominant sectors of the national society. Overall, these gender inequalities are part of the effect of trabalho livre at village level and are observed in other stages well beyond school age. Becoming Men and Women: “When You Marry, Then, the Roa is Yours; You Are the Owner of Yourself” In the previous sections, we have seen that, from childhood, the effect of trabalho livre at village level acting through gender relations does affect economic and environmental conditions, because men and women, composing a village, construct 10 Obviously, years spent at school should not be the only measurement for education. In addition, the opportunities to work as maids, having food, shelter and some gratuities in exchange for schooling are not always advantageous. Rather, abusive relations with patrons and unwanted pregnancies are attributed to this situation. Besides, further research is needed to correlate years at school and the gender differentials in opportunities to learn and to use what they have learned. As an indicator, at the national level unemployment rates have increased from 1998 to 1999, and are higher among women than men (IBGE/PNAD 1999).

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278 social assignments differentiated for boys and girls. These assignments result in differentiated rates of income from roa and extractive activities, as consequences of differentiated rates of slashed areas and babau collection. In this section, I focus on a stage in the life cycle in which the social conditions are more clearly expressed. Carrying out a text analysis of my interviews, I learned that only when a person marries and constitutes a family, is she or he considered a complete social being, “owner of yourself,” entitled to handle the social relations of production necessary to fulfill the main goals of this peasant economy: material and social survival through trabalho livre. Men and women become agents of this way of life, by interpreting and expressing cultural assignments through practices designated to each gender, regarding both production and consumption. Both men and women work at roa; however, men are presented as the mentors and organizers of this essential activity. A man may negotiate the location of his roa, the maintenance of trails to it, and the number and time of exchanging working days with other producers, but his own roa is always under his command, no matter how poorly he is doing in his economic life. Again, it is important to stress that such processes are neither individual planning coordinated by the male head of household (like a Chayanovian farmer), nor collective/community planning coordinated by a main chief or hierarchically superior party (like a tribe), and nor a result of tight competition for resources (like a capitalist system). Rather, the power to chose a place for roa, to select partners for certain activities, to gather them in specific times of the season, etc. is defined through one-to-one negotiations among household heads dealing with roas, and this is what it means to be an adult man.

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279 Women are presented as the main actors in conducting babau extractive processes, although men help with transporting and, because of land constraints, increasingly with breaking babau. It is interesting to note a significant negative correlation between babau production and the consumer/worker ratio (r varying from -.217 to -.215, depending on the village, with p = .000). Rather than assuming that the activity is not under a peasant economy, once we incorporate gender effects in the explanation, we can see that activities assigned by gender behave differently throughout the family life cycle. The consumer/worker ratio is high when a family has many younger children to feed, in relation to working youth or adults available to work. The number of little children at this family life stage coincides with women’s reproductive phase, in which they are withdrawn from time to time from their extractive activities for resting periods, resguardos, and post natal childcare. 78% of the families have 1 or 2 adults breaking babau, and 4% have 3 or more, 11 and among them, less than 13% were stated to be men. The gender division of labor is reinforced by taboos regulating babau breaking as a female activity, as they say that men’s butts grow if they break babau. Babau breaking by older male teenagers is discouraged by men and women adults, as they should engage in roa, and not in servio de mulher, a women’s job. As an enchantment, 11 In addition to the 413 adults, 249 young or teenage daughters and 93 children were stated to be babau extractors. Field observations led me to believe that these numbers are understated. One reason for this underestimate may be the fact that cash earned by teenagers and children is frequently spent on their own clothes or school supplies, and is not considered work for the family as a whole. Another reason is that “now the government is saying that children are not supposed to work” (Antonia, 45 y-o, Pacas) and respondents may have incorporated this discourse in their answers. Also, children’s labor is not related to production as work in the complete sense of the word, as text analysis of the term “servio de menino,” kids’ job, indicates a distinct category of labor. Considering labor as the fruit of a social relation, children’s labor indeed has another origin and nature, as it is neither extracted by a capitalist, nor through a peasant relation among fully complete social beings. Rather, it is more a matter of initiating a person in a way of life.

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280 if a man begins to distract himself breaking babau, he will forget about roa, and when he realizes it, time has passed, and his roa will be too late. Both men and women state roa as the essential activity and babau breaking as the complementary, accessory activity, and a social hierarchy with male dominance is related to it. While rice is viewed as the assurance of a whole way of life, babau is related to income necessary to buy “mistura” or “as coisas de casa,” home stuff, things that you can manage without. In fact, kernels are exchanged by the end of the day, or by the end of the week for sugar, coffee, matches, cooking oil, soap, salt, and other industrial goods, or are sold for cash to buy notebooks and pencils, or to pay for clothes, pieces of furniture, medicines, etc. In spite of the importance of these goods, in their descriptions, babau is still perceived as a complement. Quantitative analysis confirms the hierarchical order of this complementing. Table 5-10 shows that the amounts of babau sold in the summer and in the winter do not predict the slashed area or production of that given agricultural year (1999), as shown in Table 5-11. Table 5-10. Area slashed in 1999 regressed on amounts of babau produced in the summer 1998 and winter of 1999 Independent variables Model 1 Model 2 Constant 2.990*** 3.001*** Babau extracted in the summer 1998 0.015 0.020 Babau extracted in the winter 1999 -0.007 R 0.009 0.010 F 3.360 1.726 ***p<0.001, **p<0.01, *p<0.05 Table 5-11. Production of rice in 1999 regressed on average amount of babau produced in the summer 1998 and winter 1999 Independent variables Model 1 Constant 673.901*** Amount of babau produced 2.25 R 0.002 F 0.791 ***p<0.001, **p<0.01, *p<0.05

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281 The models above show that neither the amounts of babau extracted in the summer nor in the winter predict the area slashed for roa and rice produced. Qualitative interviews led me to interpret that, for the families of this sample (those with access to land and forest resources), the limited availability of land in terms of forested area, conditions of the ecosystem, and gender of laborers are what more strongly define how much to slash, and consequently, how much rice will be produced. Therefore, in the combination of agricultural and extractive activities, babau does not fill a predicting role. The costs of labor (e.g., the resources needed to feed the laborers), provided by babau breaking, do not predict the outcome (amount of rice produced) because the agrarian and ecological constraints have conditional prevalence. Taking the condition of the ecosystem as an illustration, I observed that when limited availability of land forces men to plant in a patch of the forest that is not in the ideal stage to slash, roas will not be so large, as men know that they will not be able to deal with the excessive weeds that show up in this ecological situation. So, looking onwards, taking babau as a predictor for roa, no matter how much babau they have to supply for the costs of labor for roa, given the limitations mentioned above, it will not be cost effective, and therefore, will not induce greater slashing areas for roas. Looking backwards, once these conditions are already given, taking roa as a predictor for babau production, I had assumed that women whose husbands were not able to produce much rice would break more babau, so that they would compensate the lack of rice from roa, with rice bought with cash from babau. However, this also does not happen, as we can see in Table 5-12. The area slashed in the previous year (roa

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282 1998) had only a slight effect on babau production. If we consider the area being slashed (roa 1999) at the time the babau is being produced, extractive and agricultural processes seem quite independent regarding how much to produce. Table 5-12. Amount of babau kernels produced regressed on area slashed in the previous and current years Independent variables Model 1 Model 2 Constant 23.491*** 23.287*** Area slashed in 1998 .568* .550 Area slashed in 1999 -0.027 R 0.013 0.013 F 4.799* 2.394 ***p<0.001, **p<0.01, *p<0.05 Model 1 shows that the size of the area slashed in the previous year predicts the amount of babau to be broken in the following seasons. However, the significance of this effect is not so strong, as it explains only 1.3% of the positive variation in kernels per week extracted. Model 2 gives a better view of the complementarity between roa and babau. When roa 1999 is considered, the effect of roa 1998 loses its significance. Therefore, men and women have to deal with these prior constraints in access to land and forests in other ways than increasing babau production when roa does not produce what is necessary for the family’s consumption needs. Here we get to the point in which married men and women express in full the effect of trabalho livre at village level that characterizes the peasant economy in the Mearim valley. They respond to these constraints on their means of production not through further extracting labor surpluses from those with less access to means of production, as would capitalists, nor through further self-exploitation of each individual family by increasing its drudgeries, as Chayanov would suggest. Rather, through specific gender relations practiced within the village, they respond with economic arrangements not only for production, but also for consumption matters at the village level.

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283 The size of the family is what most significantly causes variation in consumption, significantly more than the area slashed by the family or than rice they produce on it. The area of roa in 1999 and rice produced and consumed in the same year illustrates this relative difference. Table 5-13. Consumption of rice regressed on family size, area slashed, and rice produced Independent variables Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Constant 256.075*** 211.721*** 210.547*** Family size 95.716*** 87.920*** 87.723*** Area slashed 24.149*** 20.514* Amount of rice produced 0.020 R 0.554 .576 0.577 F 169.51*** 94.805*** 63.235*** ***p<0.001, **p<0.01, *p<0.05 Model 1 includes only family size as the independent variable and shows that it has a positive association with consumption, indicating that the household is indeed the locus of consumption. Family size alone explains 55% of the variation in consumption. The coefficient indicates that for each additional member in the family, consumption rises by 96 kg of rice per year. In Model 2, we can see that, although significant, slashed area only increases the variation explained by 2.2% (R=0.576 R=0.544) of the variation in consumption, given the family size. Model 3 indicates that the actual amount of rice produced by each family has little to do with the amount of rice it consumes, as it accounts for only 0.1% of variation, and does not have significant power for explaining consumption. While the slashed area can significantly predict the amount of rice produced, it is a weak predictor of the amount of rice consumed, indicating that families are consuming amounts independent of amounts they have produced. This would lead one to think that these families are tending to be introduced into wage labor relations, with increasing dependency on external consumption goods and labor markets. Observations in the field

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284 do not lead to this conclusion. Although throughout the years I have observed a few trucks loaded with rice leaving the village in the summer, there were no massive entrances of rice into the villages. 12 As sources of income, I found a combination of production from roa, babau breaking, retirements, occasional selling of labor, and recently, specific credits from projects such as PROCERA. From all these sources, production from roa is materially and perceptually the most important source for consumption. So, why, although there are families without roa or with poor harvests, did I not observe families without rice on the table? How can some families survive if they do not produce as much as they consume? Or, in other words, how can they accomplish their goal of responding to family consumption demands, even though they do not have enough production and there is no significant correlation between families producing less rice and greater production of kernels or greater access to retirement or credit? 13 My qualitative data shows that gender relations have a crucial role in organizing social relations that define distribution of rice among villagers. Dona Teresa (65 years old, Monte Alegre) explains this situation to me. She affirms that nobody in the village goes without eating: “If he [her brother-in-law] has [rice] and I do not, he gives [rice] to me: ‘Here, dona Teresa, you are going to eat.’ Then, I keep working, struggling, and he keeps giving me [rice] and I keep eating. Then, [when harvest comes] I have [rice]. So, if this year he doesn’t have and I do, I say: ‘Here you are, seu Delfino’, and we eat from the beginning to the end out of my production. We eat, because I ate from the beginning to the end of his production.” 12 Systematic data obtained by Roberto Porro researching in the same area confirm the relative insignificance of sales or purchases of rice within and outside the villages.

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285 Testing this assumption against families in diverse situations, I learned that both men and women may participate in such distribution. However, symbolically, women are the ones in charge of dealing with goods within the house and their distribution within the village. “Once it [rice] passes through the door, once it is inside the house, it is hers. She is the one who knows what to do. While it is in the roa, in the tijup, storage shelter in the field, the man commands, but once it enters the house [it is under women’s command]. . . . ” (Raimundo, 37 year-old, Santo Antonio dos Sardinha). Besides, by the time people begin to get short of rice, most of the families have their harvest already under their roofs, meaning under women’s domain. I observed that these exchanges were not always binary or reciprocal relations, nor always in the same kind or the same amount. Also, a family may share rice knowing that there will not be enough until the next harvest even for themselves. My qualitative data have shown evidence of a system of distribution involving neighbors, relatives, and compadres and comadres, circulating diverse products, resources and services, without specified deadlines for repayment, which can take longer than a year, and sometimes, even from one generation to another. There are a significant number of cases of godmothers and grandmothers supporting young mothers with children, and similarly significant number of grandsons living with them, and providing them with labor. Compadrio, sickness, female head of household, or friendship are part of these rules. Such distribution is neither a simple donation nor a capitalist transaction, but it works according to specific rules set at the village level, and often commanded by women, as the ones responsible for consumption matters. Reinforcing this trend, there is a certain 13 See Gudeman’s (2001) The Anthropology of Economy.

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286 tendency to feminization in single headed households (19.1 % headed by females against 3.9% by males). The graph below shows the differential between families’ production and consumption in a given year in eight villages, indicating that only about half of the families produce as much as they report consuming. The other half either produces more or less than they consume. In addition, the fact that neither massive purchases nor sales bring rice in or take rice out of the village indicates that those who produce more, somehow provide rice for those who produce less. -2000.000.002000.004000.006000.00Rice produced minus rice consumed 255075100125Number of families N=397Mean=15.47Std.Dev =813.68SkewnessStat= 2.82Std. Error= .122 Figure 5-2. Annual production minus consumption in eight villages In their symbolism, men dominate the sphere of production and women dominate the sphere of consumption. If the unit of production coincided with the unit of consumption, consumption would be materially subordinated to production. However, as we have seen, taking the village as the unit of analysis, this does not happen. While

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287 married men knit the social relations in the placement of roas, and labor allocation exchanged among families, married women work actively in a system of distribution of consumption goods.However, although men and women have essential roles in the social relations knitting the village together and in its material survival, because of the symbolic centrality of roas, men directing them are placed hierarchically above all other categories in the village. This gender hierarchy as part of the effect of trabalho livre at village level is more strongly felt during people’s productive years. Even so, in the last stage of the life cycle examined below, we are going to discuss how external inputs can affect this order of the effect of trabalho livre at village level, when peasants get older. Getting Old: “The Old Woman Having her Little Social SecurityIt Doesn’t Solve Everything, But It Helps at Lot!” In this stage of the life cycle, we can observe how men 60 years and older, and women 55 years and older contribute to the effect of trabalho livre at village level without themselves actually providing labor to its economy. According to 433 respondents, 125 families (29%) have received at least one monthly social security check. According to Porro (1997), there are villages and even municipalities in the area studied that have more financial inputs coming from social security than from any other external source. In my interviews, education and social security were themes that appeared spontaneously and consistently. Interviewees refer to roa and babau breaking as their means to live, while education is always referred to as an ultimate and long-term goal to change the quality of this living. Social security was mentioned as one of the important means to maintain themselves in their old age, but also an important means to support their adult children in the costs of roas, and to keep their grandchildren in school. Therefore, social security

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288 also helps to mold this way of living. Since social security was allowed to rural elders, their social status within the villages has changed. Although a culturally built respect and support for elders was traditionally maintained, in this time of such scarcity and growing economic pressures, access to social security brought different perspectives to intergenerational relationships. As a negative aspect, during my research period, I registered two murders, which occurred in neighboring villages involving robbery against elders who had just gotten their monthly checks. Also, some people act as “middlemen” to deceive the elders. Nonetheless, in general, elders gained more voice in household decision-making. Many village activities such as meat butchering, transportation to town, payment in the cooperative’s post or merchant’s post, have come to be associated with the day the elders go to receive their money at the bank. Several villages presented greater income from social security than from the sale of agricultural products, and this situation leads to changes in gender relations. In the villages studied, women may seem favored, as my data shows that women are managing to access their social security more than are men. Among 405 families interviewed, 72% did not receive social security checks, 15.5% had women receiving these checks, 6.7% had men, 5.7% had both a man and a woman receiving them, and there was one household receiving more than two checks. The difference between male and female life expectancy may be part of the explanation for such a gender disparity as, in this region, it is respectively 62.4 and 68.5 years of age. Also, social security is allowed to men only at age 60, while to women at age 55. Thus men on average would collect only for 2 years, while women might collect for 13 or 14 years. The large number of women in charge of this monetary resource

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289 distribution reinforces the importance of gender issues in the system of production and consumption. Examining the effect of social security on the amount of rice produced by workers of the same family receiving social security checks, I learned that social security negatively affects the production of rice, although the association is weak. This is expected, as older heads of household do not plant much roa anyway. However, tracing the destination of this money, I found that 65% of the secured elders spent their benefits on groceries, and shared or exchanged their purchases with their adult children or neighbors who do plant roa, and 6% actually hired labor for planting roas. Either in goods or in cash, this value circulates within the village, affecting its economy. In Table 5-14, I compare each village with the village of Bom Princpio. Rice production varies among villages, and is especially low in Ludovico. Looking at social security within the situations related to each specific village, the negative effect of social security on rice production decreases, and for all the villages, but Ludovico, it actually loses its significance (p-values are too high). Table 5-14. Production of rice regressed on social security and village Independent variables Model 1 Model 2 Constant 813.628*** 931.752*** Social security -222.000* -176.492 Coroat Ludovico Pau Santo So Jos Veloso Monte Alegre Santo Antonio dos Sardinha -169.840 -468.740 126.228 -171.720 -260.297 331.992 R 0.015 0.081 F 5.981* 4.119*** ***p<0.001, **p<0.01, *p<0.05 Model 1 shows that for each retiree receiving a paycheck, a constant of 814 kg of rice produced per family will decrease by 222 kg. This negative effect, however, explains

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290 only 1.5% of the variation in rice production, having a weak relationship. Once we look at each village separately, we can see that explanatory power increases (R= 0.081 vs. 0.015), and the F score in Model 2 indicates that there is four times more variation associated with the effect of social security in rice production between villages than within each village. Informal interviews led me to believe that social security does have an indirect negative effect on the drudgery to make up for the costs of rice production in the village as a whole, as cash from social security circulating in the village alleviates the pressure for women to break babau and men to leave the villages for wage labor in fazendas. 14 45% of the interviewees stated that men in their families had sold some labor throughout the agricultural year. Among them more than half worked from 10 up to 60 days, and 88% of them made between R$4 to R$6 a day (1U$=1.78R$, in July, 1999). While 38% of them worked mostly for fazendeiros or merchants, 36% sold their labor mostly to relatives, neighbors and compadres, and 26% for governmental and nongovernmental institutions (mostly temporary jobs). It is very likely that cash and goods provided by social security circulate among those working for their own peers. Again, as men’s labor is primarily to produce rice up to the limits imposed by the available land and forest resources, there will not be much variation in the production of rice itself, because these limits have been reached (land and forest are now scarce resources). However, social security affects other activities, such as sale of labor and babau breaking, performed to supply what is not provided by roas. In Table 5-15, taking Bom Princpio as a reference, the base value for labor sold is 14.8 days a year. In

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291 Bom Princpio, families receiving at least one social security check are not going to sell labor, while in Santo Antonio dos Sardinhas, they will still sell 14 days of labor a year (14.8 + 24.35 – 25.03 = 14). In Ludovico, those with social security will sell 44 days of labor per year, and those without, 69 days. Table 5-15. Labor sold regressed on social security and villages Independent variables Model 1 Model 2 Constant 28.157*** 14.833** Social security -19.900*** -25.037*** Coroat Ludovico Pau Santo So Jos Veloso Monte Alegre Santo Antonio dos Sardinha 2.414 53.947*** 39.449*** 11.155 2.837 -1.021 24.346* R 0.031 0.187 F 12.495*** 11.102*** ***p<0.001, **p<0.005, *p<0.05 In Model 1, which considers only social security as a predictor for labor sold, for a constant of 28 days of labor sold in one year, the presence of a retiree in the family would decrease this amount by 20 days. However, the association between social security and days of labor sold is not so strong, as it explains only 3% of the variation in labor sold. Introducing the village component in the analysis strengthens this variance, as Model 2 explained 18.4% of the total variance in labor sold. In this Model, we learn that in Ludovico, Pau Santo and Santo Antonio dos Sardinhas much more labor is sold, but that is partially offset by social security. This is not valid for the other villages, for which social security has no significant effects. Similarly, social security has significantly greater negative effects on the variation of babau produced in the retirees’ households, as it can substitute for the cash provided by babau in the purchase of weekly consumption goods such as coffee, sugar, kerosene, 14 The highly significant negative effect of social security in the village of Ludovico can be explained by a combination of lack of access to land and relative abundance of babau in the

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292 salt, etc. But, again, as shown in Table 5-16, introducing villages in the Model better explains this effect. Table 5-16. Babau production regressed on social security and days of labor sold Independent variables Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Constant 26.517*** 28.115*** 31.222*** Social security -7.119*** -8.367*** -7.265*** Days of labor sold -0.056** -0.031 Coroat Ludovico Pau Santo So Jos Veloso Monte Alegre Santo Antonio dos Sardinha -5.259 -18.170*** -0.626 -10.759*** 0.999 -14.099** R 0.034 0.061 0.181 F 12.776*** 11.631*** 8.696*** ***p<0.001, **p<0.005, *p<0.01 Model 1 shows that for each retiree in a family breaking 27 kg of babau a week, a decrease of 7 kg a week is likely to happen because of his/her pay check and not to chance. However strong the probability of this event, it explains only 3.4% of the variation in kernels sold by week. Model 2 includes labor sold. In a retiree’s household, for each extra day of labor sold, it is very likely that women’s work on babau will be affected only slightly. Including the effect of trabalho livre at village level in Model 3 allows 18% of the variation explained, and we can see that while for Pau Santo, Veloso and Santo Antonio dos Sardinhas, where access to palms is more difficult, social security affects production of babau, it is unlikely for the other villages. It is important to remember that the results above were obtained considering all the families, whether or not they had access to land, and how much rice they have produced. My sample encompasses villages with assured overall access to land and forests, but surely families without access to land live in them, and do take part in the effect of trabalho livre at village level. Selecting only families who could not plant roa and, surrounding pastures.

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293 therefore, did not produce rice at all, the effects of social security and babau breaking on labor sold were different, suggesting an interdependency and hierarchy of priorities in activities performed. Table 5-17 refers only to the 50 families with no rice produced, among whom half sell 15 to 50 kg of kernels/week and 30 families have retirees’ as a member. For these families without roa, the social security effect observed in Model 2 is more than two times the social security effect in Table 5-15, which included families with roa. This reinforces the importance of roa as a decisive factor in labor allocation, but babau also plays a role. Among families without rice produced, for every additional kg of babau sold per week, 1.85 less days of labor will be sold in that year. Table 5-17. Labor sold regressed on babau production and social security, for families without roa Independent variables Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Constant 42.993** 72.245*** 78.818** Babau production -1.285* -1.543** -1.845** Social security -45.415** -44.212** Coroat -9.497 Ludovico 33.371 Pau Santo -45.341 So Jos dos Mouras -32.064 Veloso -30.141 Monte Alegre -19.645 S A dos Sardinhas -31.559 R 0.091 0.220 .404 F 4.889* 6.751** 3.093** ***p<0.001, **p<0.01, *p<0.05 Note: This table includes only families who have not produced rice in that given year. Model 1 includes only babau as an independent variable, and for each kg/week of kernel sold, the family without rice from roa is likely to sell 1.3 days less of the number of days it would otherwise sell, 43 days. While babau alone explains 9.1% of the variation in labor sold for these families, together with social security, its explanatory power reaches 22%. In Model 2, we learn that with social security checks, a family without rice from roa would sell babau to prevent selling labor outside, and for each kg

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294 /week sold, 1.5 days of labor would be saved. For these families, the fact of having a retiree at home would prevent the sale of 45 days of labor in one year. In Model 3, which takes villages into consideration, the significance of babau production as predictor increases, while that of social security remains the same, which was expected as access to forest resources varies from village to village and distribution of social security among elders varies little. It is interesting to notice that, as we are dealing only with families without roa, probably those who did not have access to land to plant, the significance of which village they are in is very weak. Since they do not have roa, the detached character of the sale of labor, minimizes the effect of village. However, considering that this regression accounted only for variables related to production, it is important to remember that variables related to consumption depend on village connections, because of the social relations driving the distribution of production that happens at the village level. Further research is necessary to figure out the specific gender effects on social security and vice-versa; however, knowing that almost twice the number of women as compared to men receive and direct this income, for longer periods of their lives, and that it has significantly affected economic activities in their villages, reinforces the importance of gender also at this stage. I believe that the unfairness of both lower life expectancy and later enjoyment of social security on men’s side, and pressures to cover for gaps of income in the younger generations on both men and women’s sides, make the distribution of this income by elders even more relevant, and its role in the effect of trabalho livre at village level more significant.

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295 Shared Notions and Symbols in the Construction of a Gendered Economy Throughout their life cycles, we can see that the subjects of trabalho sem patro elaborate on means and resources that, through social relations in absence of a coordinating patro, result in coordinated processes of production and consumption. In each phase of the cycle I learned of specific forms of viewing and sharing space, time and values composing this coordination, and informing what I have called the effect of trabalho livre at village level. According to Harvey (1990), time and space form a complex of social power. In the Mearim valley, shared notions of time, space and values form this power that sustain a village together. Shared notion of time. In capitalist enterprises, the costs of production are calculated in terms of the time it takes to produce things, and employers submit proletarians’ labor under constant efforts to reduce the time spent on a particular task. ‘Economy of time,’ said Marx, ‘to this all economy ultimately reduces itself’ (Harvey 1990, discussed in Hoogvelt 1997:118). In capitalist systems, the patro defines the economy of time of his proletarians. In Chayanovian farms, the head farmer rules the family time. In the Mearim valley, each one is the owner of his/her time, but needs to negotiate it among households. “How do you know it is time to begin or stop doing this or that?” “Aqui, quem comanda o tempo. Cada um sabe o tempo. Here, who commands is the time. Each one knows the time.” According to Martins (2001:157), who also researched in the Mearim valley, “although the informants oriented themselves by the raining and dry time, they associate these seasons more to the activities they developed than to the correspondent months. The social agents’ conception of time is directly related to the activities they develop in

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296 “roados” and babau breaking, usually classifying the time as “time of slashing,” “time of burning,” “time of babau dropping,” “time of in-between harvests.” Only when one marries, is one considered able to take decisions about time, both in the sense of the seasons and in the sense of ability to negotiate with other villager’s “own time.” As each one knows his “own time” within the chronological, seasonal time, each one defines the exact day to begin slashing within the range of “time of slashing,” for example. This variation allows the practice of “troca de dias,” exchanging days of work, and “trabalho alugado,” rented labor (Martins 2001:160, Gudeman 1978), and spreads out the risks inherent in weather conditions. Time has, therefore, subjects defining it, not a boss coordinating its laborers, but full social agents negotiating their “own time” with others. Surely there is social and economic differentiation among villagers, but these are not translated into social relations in which one appropriates another’s time ownership, and these seem to me a form of practicing politics, and its respect for each one’s time in pressured contexts, a form of political resistance. Shared notion of space. We have seen that in a socially delineated time, women go after the babau palms when they begin to drop fruits, and similarly, men meander throughout the land, looking for a spot to plant that year’s roa. Just like labor is allocated according to each one’s timing socially negotiated within the village, so labor is also allocated in a space, which is socially regulated and delimited. In principle, the land is perceived as a space of common use, and for that men negotiate among themselves where to plant a roa each year, as they share firebreaks, trails from the village to the roas, ways to get the food to the workplace, and help each other in pressured times. A strong dependency on the rain regime and a narrow range of

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297 alternatives for selection of soils and related fallows to slash, implying diverse levels of vulnerability to disease and droughts, makes roa too risky for a family to survive on its own. Therefore, a family’s agency in managing specific social rules is essential to elaborate a combination of possibilities in selecting different spots, with different vegetation and topography, allowing different timing in labor availability and efficiency in using common means, so that more pressured demands in labor can be handled by more than one family. Respondents in a survey stated 23 combinations of variables related to the following self-elected aspects of places: type of vegetation (capoeira, mato, sabiazal), stage of vegetation (fino, mdio, grosso), stage of fallow (nova, mdia, velha), topography (plano, baixada, alto, chapada, morro, serra), type of human action (campo aradado, palhada, solta), type of soil (arenoso, barrento, pedregoso, piarra), condition of drainage (alagado, vazante). In the 3 years examined, only 5 families planted in the same type of ecosystem all three times; less than half of the families repeated the same type 2 consecutive years, and less than half of the families repeated in alternate years. This and field observations indicate that there is not a pattern in which the same families are always getting the same best spots, and not always with the same groups, requiring families to refresh their networks. On the women’s side, babau trees are also common resources, distributed throughout an undetermined, but territorialized space. To point out the specific view of space ruling babauais (babau palm forests) Shiraishi (2001) compares it with extractivism by rubber tappers. Although both are native resources, babau differs from rubber trees because while each given rubber tapper family appropriates a determined number of rubber trees, an undetermined number of families use an undetermined

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298 number of babau palms. The space in a seringal is perceived and regulated through the estradas de seringa, trails through the forests that define the territory (colocao). The space in a babaual is seen as a common space, where women and children use these common resources on a first-come-first-served basis. Similarly to roas, common use of babauais does not imply an open or unregulated space. Rather, culturally constructed views of space are expressed in forms to regulate access to the palms and its resources. Women neither own areas of babauais, nor formally state which part of it they are going to use in a given day, but through a network of communication, they distribute themselves throughout the different areas of the forest. Nobody piles up or ask their children to pile up babau fruits beyond their needs. They do not cut bunches, but use only what the palm has dropped, so different families may use fruits of the same bunch at different times. The view of the space as for common use is so established that even when a physical barrier such as the fence of a fazendeiro, supported by the law and government, is there to remind the women of new forms of land appropriation, women keep crossing the barbed wires. Composing the effect of trabalho livre at village level, the described notion of time and view of space drive and are driven by specific values. Shared notion of values. In this section I illustrate with the example of valuation of rice and babau, the necessity to consider values other than those apprehended by conventional economic analysis. Qualitative data show that rice is more than the basic staple in the Mearim valley, cultural and materially, and is an essential measurement for the purposes of our economic analysis on gender, because of its central presence in both roa and house scenarios. Especially in the present context of land concentration, the

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299 main objective of the peasant family as an economic unit of production is to assure at least production of enough rice for the family’s consumption demands for the whole year or, in the worst case, at least until the next rainy season. Just as with nature’s limitations on time and space, market impositions are also mediated by how social groups interpret them. For example, studies carried out in 1986 by May (1990) examined why increasing prices at the end of 1982 did not motivate babau kernel extractive workers to produce more. Kono (1982, cited in May 1990) concluded that the relative prices between rice and babau prevented the increasing supply of babau, as in 1973, cash obtained by 1 kg of babau paid for 3.8 kg of rice, and 10 years later, only for 2.3 kg of rice. May presented an alternative conclusion: only if babau prices went below acceptable opportunity costs for women and children’s labor, would the amount of kernels be effectively reduced. The observed stagnation in spite of increased prices was due mostly to the way extractivism is combined with agricultural production, babau being viewed as a complementary product to support the final goal of rice production. May suggests that changes in access and use of land and forests are more acceptable predictors for babau production (May 1990:223). My field observations led me to agree with the latter conclusion, and I want to further elaborate on the values behind May’s findings, in light of the current data. My ethnography was not about collecting systematic data on monetary values, but through interviews aiming to capture perceptions on economic values, informants elaborated on the ultimate goals of their economic activities: se garante o arroz, voc trabalha liberto, if you assure the rice, you can work as a free person. Testing the concept of trabalho liberto through 43 ethnographic interviews with men and women, I learned that they

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300 prioritize roa not only when selling babau compensates more in monetary terms than spending labor in rice production, but also when prices for babau go down, they keep extracting enough to pursue their goal of having roa running. The statistical tests on the hierarchy of roa on babau breaking and on sale of labor confirm that. What happened after the reduction of the import taxes for palm kernel oil from 18% to 12% and then to 2%, with the so-called neo-liberal policies in the beginning of the 1990s, illustrates the latter statement. Relative prices between babau and rice went down, and yet not much change in production was observed. Table 5-18. Production for babau and rice in the Mearim micro-region Year Amount (ton) 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 Babau 21.800 22.220 20.769 20.420 19.497 19.076 30.637 29.458 29.513 29.436 28.728 Rice 41.210 89.731 27.962 58.871 56.598 51.491 43.505 39.583 45.082 51.963 53.823 Table 5-19. Values for babau and rice in the Mearim micro-region Value (C$, CR$, and R$) 1990 (Mil Cruzeiros) 1991 (Mil Cruzeiros) 1992 (Mil Cruzeiros) 1993 (Mil Cruzeiros Reais) 1994 (Mil Reais) 1995 (Mil Reais) 1996 (Mil Reais) 1997 (Mil Reais) 1998 (Mil Reais) 1999 (Mil Reais) 2000 (Mil Reais) Babau 258.854 1.711.615 20.607.462 485.457 5.629 4.628 8.157 8.576 10.079 12.251 12.517 Rice 709.552 4.127.350 24.049.431 1.025.703 9.261 9.390 7.228 9.453 13.382 15.138 14.617 Rice/ Babau 0.69 1.67 1.15 1.36 1.76 1.33 1.60 1.22 1.15 1.43 1.60 Source: IBGE Produo Extrativa Vegetal and Produo Agrcola Municipal 2000 Even though variation in prices is observed for both products according to places within the valley and periods of year, compared to the previous decades, the purchasing power of babau in relation to rice has effectively decreased and fluctuated, and notwithstanding, production of kernels has been stabilized around 25,000 tons a year (std dev = 4,761) in the Mearim valley and around 109,000 tons a year (std dev = 12,469) in Maranho. During the 1990s, data show no correlation between the rice/babau price ratio and production of babau (Pearson correlation = 0.078, p = 0.820).

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301 Interviewees point to deforestation and lack of access to babau as causes of decreasing production, as compared to the previous decades. 15 In analyzing gender relations in the context of development projects, it is essential therefore, to further examine the shared values conferring the centrality of rice as a basis for a way of life in explaining their economy, and in learning how social relations and cultural interpretations capture and deal with monetary and nature’s impositions. Qualitative data consistently show the practical and symbolic significance of rice. For people to whom subjugation of their labor is the ultimate threat, having their own rice means freedom from daily forced labor. Besides, this perceptual importance of rice makes it representative of production in general, not only through the significant volume and expenditures involved, but also because forest and land use is primarily defined by rice cultivation. Forests in fallows old enough for slashing are assigned for planting rice; other staples will be planted in the succession. From a social perspective, once rice is planted and assured, a family feels free to invest their labor in other activities; otherwise, they would have to sell babau or labor to others in order to buy rice. This subtraction of labor and potential production of a family from the village’s stock of labor and products is not compensated by the meager daily wage earned by a single family. The family may suffice its needs for a couple of days, but the village is weakened as a whole, because, as we will detail later, bought rice is not distributed within the village as planted rice is. Therefore, even though quantitatively speaking, greater amounts of rice may be bought through cash obtained by labor sold than rice produced by labor invested on one own roa in some periods of the year, 15 In Maranho, in 1970, production of babau was 148,000 tons/years, increasing to 185,000 in 1980. Ten years later, 132,000 were produced, and in 2000, it was 108,000.

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302 qualitatively speaking, produced rice, even in smaller quantities, has different symbolic and material consequences for the village economy. Rice produced by a family itself is considered exempt from the alienation imbued in the rice obtained through wage relations. The ownership one has when rice is the result of one’s own self-directed labor defines the family economy, and when distributed among villagers through noncapitalist relations builds a village as the expression of a peasant way of life. “Esse da lavra” (this is from our own tilling), and therefore can be distributed to other villagers, tightening social relations and consolidating women’s role in this sphere. It is a mistake therefore, to assume babau breaking as the only female domain, and fragment this aspect of their lives in order to promote discourses on conservation and gender, at the expense of roa. Women will lose their power in directing consumption and distribution matters if roa fails, and people need to buy rice. “What does roa mean to you?” “A roa significa pra ns, a fora da vontade de se tirar muito legume para chegar o ano ao outro, sem t comprando. Aquele compra-compra que ruim pra ns.” (Roa means to us the power of will to produce a lot to reach from one year to the next, without buying. That buying-buying is what is bad for us) (Chico Crente, Ludovico). Although I asked the question to him in the singular, his answer came back in the plural, indicating a shared understanding of roa and purchase of rice. The same amount and variety of rice obtained from roa and of rice obtained through purchase are different, because they result from different social relations. Rice production and consumption, therefore, also reflect Marx’s distinction between things and relations, and it is such a distinction that in the Mearim valley gives meaning to the distinct economy pointed out by Chayanov.

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303 Conclusion Chayanov (1986:215) insisted that while in the capitalist farm the area plowed or the number of cows raised is determined by the profitability of marginal investments, in the family farm, the decision will be taken based on weighing the marginal drudgery against marginal utility or family demand satisfaction provided by the income from this marginal output. At this point of his rationale, he makes clear that such an interactive process is fundamentally subjective in character and subject to change, as the subjective evaluation of the values obtained by this marginal labor will depend on the extent of its marginal utility for the farm family. “The greater the quantity of work carried out by a man in a definite time period, the greater and greater drudgery for the man are the last (marginal) units of labor expended. On the other hand, the subjective evaluation of the values obtained by this marginal labor will depend on the extent of its marginal utility for the farm family” (Chayanov 1986:81). After working on my quantitative data, looking at the variables Chayanov indicated, I confirmed that the economy I was studying in the Mearim valley was indeed not a capitalist economy although it assumes some capitalist categories, but it was not a Chayanovian peasant economy either. In the Mearim valley, it is not the “subjective evaluation” of a head of household farmer that defines the economy, but social relations among peasants in a village, including gender relations. It is important to remember that families compose a village, but a village is more than the sum of individual families as Chayanov procedures might lead us to believe. The village is the dynamic result of relations among families, so as individuals or families withdrawn from a village, it may still be a village as long as the relations that defined it remain. Families leaving the village do not necessarily signal the demise of the peasantry, but the preservation of the

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304 face-to-face negotiations is necessary to the complex workings of a village. Therefore, it is with the awareness of this complexity that I want to view the scenarios and sequences offered by my quantitative economic data, pointing out the significance of gender in a peasant economy strongly defined at the village level. Based on these studies, I want to close this chapter by reinforcing five points: (1) The peasant way of life in the Mearim valley is centered on the concept of “trabalho liberto,” which emerged in social situations based on the common use of territorialized land and forests, not by individualized farmers, but by people constituting villages. Therefore, variables useful to household studies must be revised for economies based on villages. Current contexts of restrictions in accessing land and forest resources have induced strategies to deal with these changes, while aiming to preserve “trabalho liberto.” Analysis of my data suggests a hierarchy of priorities in allocating this free labor. The essential activity is roa, and since agrarian conditions have undermined the ecosystems’ capacity to renew itself, roas have been restricted to sizes insufficient to cover all family needs, demanding labor allocation in complementary activities: babau extractivism and sale of labor, in this order. (2) For those unable to access land at all, not even renting land, the order remains: greater emphasis on babau breaking than on selling labor in the market. This order is coherent with the ideals of trabalho livre. Roa is the full expression of trabalho livre, since there is no extraction of surplus either from the production or the consumption sides, as currently it does not go to the market. Babau is a result of trabalho livre from the production side, but is exchanged for cash, and surplus is extracted through the purchase of consumption goods priced by extractors of surplus. Finally, selling labor is the situation in which labor surplus is extracted in production (through wages) and consumption (through the price of purchased goods). In this order, babau breaking would be the buffer activity that serves to support roa as the essential activity. (3) The peasant economy in the Mearim valley is based on clearly defined gender assignments, and gender does have effects on economic and ecological outcomes. Current constraints in these contexts result in inequalities for both men and women throughout their lives. The inequalities are expressed through the practices themselves, but also in the symbolism that explains them. The centrality of roa as a male domain, and the supporting roles of extractivism as a female domain result in material burdens for both, and in the symbolic (which should not interpreted as not real) domination of women by men. (4) Dominant discourses on sustainable development and women’s emancipation that do not take into consideration links between men’s and women’s economic activities in the basic premises of their way of life, put in jeopardy an already

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305 threatened balance between production and consumption, and gender social relations sustaining it. Although babau breaking is symbolically the female realm, men and women have adopted roa as their essential activity because this is the foundation for their trabalho livre as the main strategy against cativeiro. Although very important in providing industrial goods, babau breaking is a supporting activity because it allows surplus extraction, as it is not consumed directly, but cashed. Women’s power in rice distribution in the consumption stage must be considered in strategies aiming to gender equalities. Gender inequalities provoked by the symbolisms of male dominance should be approached with caution given our ethnocentric focus on wife-husband relations. Intergenerational and interfamily relations may be as much or more relevant in the Mearim valley.

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CHAPTER 6 REFLECTIONS AND CONCLUSIONS: GENDER RELATIONS IN THE MEARIM VALLEY Introduction At the end of my journey for this dissertation, looking back to the field, I can still hear the echoing discourses defining gender. I have in my backpack samples of popular booklets and meeting reports specifying what gender means. I leave the field with the feeling that discourses attempting to deploy the diversity of ways of living gender have been powerfully put in motion. Similar to what Foucault (1990) had found about sex, there is now a proliferation of discourses about gender, an intrusion (or a demand for it) in each and every crevice of the development spaces. In every project, there must be a line or paragraph about women (as the term has been equated to gender), in many organizations, a program, or a secretary for gender issues. According to Foucault, for Western societies, the main approach regarding sex in the 17 th century was repression, as until the 18 th century, it served to control the alliances and transmission of wealth, through marriage and kinship. But, from then on, these relations of sex were not enough to control current economic and political processes. In the 19 th century, an exhaustive scrutiny on sex, a crude examination of sex in all social spaces took place, and in the 20 th century, parallel to a supposed tolerance toward sex, a proliferation of its discourses emerged, a compulsion to talk and think about it. The authorities enunciating these discourses deployed and controlled sexuality itself, suggesting powerful ways to take control over it (Foucault 1990:106-115). 306

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307 The reverberating discourse now is that “sex is nature’s differentiation of males and females,” and “gender is society’s construction to differentiate men and women.” However, after my fieldwork, I deeply know that, although essential, this discursive denaturalization of the relations between men and women, making gender a social construction, is definitely not the final answer to the contradictory practices of inequality between men and women. Without further qualification and fine-tuning, without a diligent and passionate hunt for what exactly this “society’s construction” means in each articulated and specific situation, these discourses are not only of little help, but may also cover up development practices furthering gender inequalities. Gender is indeed a social construction. However, the automatic and repetitive reproduction of this discourse, in manuals, booklets, conferences and workshops, may end in the deployment and control of how gender relations associated to trabalho livre must exist and be lived. At the end of my journey, I just know that I cannot hope to tell the truth about gender. I hope, though, that I have shown how I came to hold the opinion I hold. I hope to have given the reader the chance of drawing his/her own conclusions, as s/he observed my limits, prejudices, and idiosyncrasies (Woolf 1981:4-5). So, the opinion I now hold certainly does not have the pretension of counter-discourse, nor does it even challenge the enunciators of the discourses deploying gender. Rather, it has aimed at a self-critical, inclusive, detailed specification of gender as the social construction I have observed in the field. In chapter 1, I discussed how gender relations cannot be dissociated from trabalho sem patro, both a symbolic and material set of social relations that define ways of life in the Mearim valley. In chapter 2, I demonstrated that ways of life of the people in the

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308 Mearim valley have emerged from multiple life trajectories delineated through a myriad of dispersion of points of choice. Nonetheless, because of their disruptive character, certain forms of gender relations have been made invisible. In chapter 3, illustrating with social situations in terras de preto, I examined how, throughout slavery, struggle for land, and development actions, specific trajectories have resulted in village formation and struggle to compose a people. I learned how this people lived specific ways of life, taking part in a multi-faceted general history. In chapter 4, I discussed how multiple forms of gender relations, including forms lived by social segments apparently disconnected from the peoples of the Mearim valley, have been intertwined with this complex history, and often reversed and overturned during periods of conflict and struggle. In chapter 5, through quantitative methods, I worked on data including eight villages with relative access to land and forest resources. I demonstrated that these lessons qualitatively learned in Lago do Junco and Monte Alegre can also be significant to other villages. They were also part of that general history that has been denied and made invisible by the total history of global and national society. As I was about to leave the field, the hanging question was then “and what about this multitude of landless people in the terras de dono? What will be the fate of trabalho livre in these multiple trajectories still struggling with their limited choices, in this field of scarce possibilities?” In the first part of this concluding chapter, to consolidate my argument about ways of life based on trabalho livre as a product of specific gender relations in the Mearim valley, I discuss how, before leaving the field, I turned to further marginalized subjects of this general history. I wanted to check my findings on gender learned in villages with access to land and forests, by testing them against villages without such access. These

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309 were the villages where I had never been. In the second part of this chapter, having integrated the social situations, which were more familiar to me, with peoples and places considered to be at the margin of the recognized social movements, I finally respond to the three questions I set out in the beginning of this dissertation. Leaving the Mearim Valley One More Time Time was flying by, and days seemed to disappear from my field daily planner. Leaders and professional staff at ASSEMA were helping me in any possible ways. They were extremely busy managing the many projects carried out by the social movements in that part of the Mearim valley. Action Aid, Grassroots, Christian Aid, Coer Unit and DED had joined efforts, and further government-funded projects, PROCERA and PDAs, had been carried out. Even so, they took the time to explain to me all the changes going on, and to discuss my ideas before I left for the new places. Through their women’s program, we had invested in a joint research-action, combining ASSEMA’s actions and my research concerns, and discussing the results with the staff and board of directors had allowed us new perspectives. In continuation, to understand the situations where the movement was not yet known was also part of their interests, and it was planned with mutual support, as leaders went later to visit these new sites. Even so, my frantic search for the meaning of gender relations had its days numbered and counting down, and there was no evidence up till then that an answer would emerge from my backpack now full of tapes, films, maps, and field journals. With my head spinning with hanging questions and lessons learned, I left the places where I had been nurtured for years, and began to explore new villages, fazendas, roadside villages, and suburban neighborhoods. To gain time, I abandoned my usual field procedure of going with the flow, arriving in unknown places by trucks and other public

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310 transportation. I took advantage of the many cab-motorcycles now circulating even in small towns. “Can you drop me in a village where there is no electricity (So Loureno)?” “Can you take me to the brothel where dona X is working now (bairro do Diogo)?” “Do you know a village where there are many people renting pastures to gather babau (Angical)?” It worked wonderfully well, and I successfully contrasted my findings with diverse social situations, selected by aspects elicited as relevant in my research design. Motocab-riders were incredibly clued-in, and always picked me up on time after a day or two. Luciene, the teacher who had joined ASSEMA 13 years before and had been its staff coordinator for years, lent me her car (also her house, bed, and family), so that I could go to more distant places and finish my research on time. The freedom of this new field approach thrilled me, as I could stop wherever, whenever I wanted. Map in hand, I headed to the towns and villages I had selected as a renewed entrance in the field in this fieldwork wrapping up. Exiting the field, I needed to be more certain of what I had learned, as much as the immensity of what was still to learn. Rites of Death in the Land of the Landlords On an early morning in these last days in the field, I was driving on the highway leading to the municipality of Olho d’guas das Cunhs. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that familiar line of women with their cofos (baskets) hanging, bandanas on their heads, entering the bushes through a little trail, toward a house. I parked the car on the shoulder, and ran after the women: “Ladies, hi, I am Noemi, a student; I am learning about your work with babau. Do you mind if I spend the day with you?” The house was dona Teresa’s and seu Pacincia’s, a vaqueiro, a cowboy of a deceased fazendeiro, who had left his fazenda to his heirs, but had left that little house to

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311 the couple. With this post in between fazendas, and still providing small services to the new owners, seu Pacincia and dona Teresa help the women of their 2-mile-away roadside village of P de Pequi, by arranging with fazendeiros the permission for them to gather babau in their pastures. Here again we can see the strategy of individual privileges being collectively appropriated. In this village squeezed by pastures, with about thirty landless families, all the men were struggling to find occasional daily jobs to clear pastures, and women were desperately after babau to break. Leaving seu Pacincia, we began our journey, heading to the pastures behind the house. It was understandable that the women’s tiredness had accumulated, as they had been working in these pastures for many days, but I did not expect their silence. In all other situations in the newly-known places, either villages or fazendas, people were very receptive, and the uniqueness of each place was reinforced by the commonality of their openness and hospitality. But, on this fazenda, except for a more approachable dona Teresa and her little daughter Paula, the others were very quiet, and so I became also. Figure 6-1. Entering “authorized” places

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312 The entrance to the authorized places involved several passages. First, we went through a narrow trail forcing us to walk in line; then, one after the other, the six silent women crossed a muddy stream and trespassed two barbed fences, getting to where their working clothes were hidden underneath a fallen palm. A subtle, unexplained tension was in the air. As they all knew the anticipated steps to move from one passage to another, performing concatenated movements in silence, the whole act reminded me of a well-rehearsed ritual. Like reversed vicars, instead of wearing holy gowns to open the ceremony, they tied their hair with pieces of old cloth, and changed their clothes into very worn-out and ripped ones. The barbed fences we were about to cross in the main stage would tell me why. Figure 6-2. Changing clothes to enter “authorized” places From all types of fences I have registered in my field notes along the years, these definitely recalled a concentration camp: the spacing between the hard tensioned lower wires was not more than six inches apart, and as the last wire was more than 5 feet high, a

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313 humiliating contortionism was needed to pass through the widely more spaced openings between the higher wires. The more tired they became, the more frequently they got stuck with the barbed wires ripping the bottom parts of their clothes, in between their legs. Only the little girl nimbly climbed the fences, suggesting an allegoric hope. Figure 6-3. A rite of passage from above In some of the fences, which had no cancelas (gateways), the middle-aged women needed to squeeze bodies and faces against the ground to pass to the other side. Contrary to rites of passage, which elevate the subject to higher social or spiritual levels, aiming to consolidate the core meaning of a people, each passage in those pastures seemed to further bend the dignity in their dusty aged faces. The crushing positions performed to pass through these rites of humiliation, repeated day after day, consolidated the invisibility of a people.

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314 Figure 6-4. A rite of passage from below Soon I learned why they were in a certain rush, and not comfortable with my presence, not throwing out the usual humorous obscene curses at degrading situations such as this, as I was expecting to hear. One of the fazendeiros had ordered a massive devastation, and many cut palms were already laid on the ground. 1 The women were worried that I, with my camera, was there to check on the devastation and report to IBAMA, 2 messing with the precarious arrangement that would get them fed for at least a few weeks. Also, there were other groups gathering babau in adjacent pasture sections, and they saw that I was coming with them. 1 In the states of Maranho and Piau there are current laws protecting the babau palms. In Maranho, the State Law number 4.734/1986 prohibits cutting the palms without due state license. The State Law number 5.405/1992, the so-called Cdigo de Proteo do Meio Ambiente do Estado do Maranho does not mention specifically the babau palm. The Federal law number 4.771/1965, expressed through the Cdigo Florestal, does not specify norms for babau, as it does for rubber and Brazil nut trees. Decrees in 1994 and 1995 regularizing exploitation of natural resources in the Amazon have included the state of Maranho (Shiraishi 2001:55). 2 IBAMA, Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources.

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315 Figure 6-5. Tearing down unripe fruits from the fallen “mother-of-the-people” All the groups were rushed because, differently than when standing palms gradually drop the fruits, distributing them among different gatherers passing by at different times, now the fruits on the fallen palms were all there at once, for those who could reach them first. I clarified that I would make a claim against the devastation only if they themselves asked me to. But the discomfort expressed in their short answers to my tentative questions was dissipated only after, stopping to take pictures, I joined their harried race against the other groups. In my imagined ritual, now frenzied movements had possessed the silent participants. After many trips carrying heavy loads of babau, it seemed that they were so burdened, that they could not afford to be bothered by anything else.

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316 Figure 6-6. Taking loads of babau through pastures full of “white spikes” The tiredness was intensified by the irrationality of the constraints. At each unnecessarily high and closed fence, the baskets had to be unloaded from their heads, and the babau passed loose to the other side, and then loaded again, forcing backbreaking efforts. At the last fence, someone would be waiting with a mule, which otherwise could easily circulate the pastures if only little gateways were made. Although constant conflicts between quebradeiras and cowboys throughout the Valley usually involve these gateways, I had never seen such humiliating work conditions. A scheme of days to gather and days to break (getting everyday food against getting more fruits before others came), distribution of places and tasks, division of payment for the mules, and rhythm and hours worked expressed very tight conditions to get enough to survive. This seemed as oppressed as the situation in Angical, another village new to me, where people had been

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317 forced to clear pastures for free, so the fazendeiro would let them enter to gather babau. 3 As a sign that struggles and resistances at the margin of the social movements are somehow invisible, this degrading form of labor extraction was completely unknown to me, and even to the leaders at ASSEMA, and the social movement Babau Livre. Without the usual talkative groups, socializing while gathering and breaking, they had split in groups of two to search for babau in the fallen palms throughout the extensive divisions in the pastures. So, groups were spread apart, when the son of one of the womem, coming by bicycle to the point where we had entered, began to yell. Again, each and every one knew her role in the act to perform: the closest group repeated the yelled message, and in an organized zigzag of reverberating connections, the message went forth, echoing through the pastures until delivered to the last woman: “Sebastiana come home your daughterdying ” Figure 6-7. “Sebastiana come home ” 3 In the village of Angical, municipality of Igarap Grande, to have the right to gather babau in areas of 80 to 100 linhas, one has to spend 60 working days clearing pastures (daily wage was R$6, food not provided). Another situation is when one pays R$ 150, in addition to 20 sacks of charcoal, to gather in 200 linhas.

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318 Carrying her heavy load, silently, Sebastiana returned through the passages, one by one. Out-of-breath, we got to the car, and drove to P de Pequi village, and from there, to the hospital at Olho d’gua das Cunhs. Disgusted and tired, now I was definitely mute, but Sebastiana began to tell her history. Her family was expelled from the landlords’ land, and ended up in that roadside village. Her husband was trying to make their living by buying milk from fazendeiros, and selling retail from a container attached to his old bike. On a foggy early morning, he was hit by a truck, which left him for dead on the road, and he would never be able to work again. Like many other women with handicapped husbands, Sebastiana worked every day gathering and breaking babau, and on the weekends, washed clothes for the rich people in Olho d’gua. Her daughter, trying to help the family, went to work as a maid in town, receiving a monthly wage of about U$ 25. Sebastiana did not have much time to think, when she found out that her daughter was 3-months pregnant. “She disappointed me once by getting pregnant; now I am sure she has disappointed me again with the stupidity of getting rid of the baby. This can’t be anything else.” Indeed, as we entered in the hospital’s room, there was the girl contorted in pain, laid on one of the several beds. Mother and daughter looked at each other and exchanged a few words. Beatriz told her mother that a friend had given her Cytotech (a medicine that provokes abortion), which she took “to make [her] menstruation return,” without any idea of how to use it. The teenager moved and cried without stopping. Ten out eleven women in the hot room were quebradeiras, sharing a fan circulating among those in worse condition. 4 A doctor came to see Beatriz for a few minutes, then leaving her for 4 Most of them were there for either problems with kidneys or gastritis. As they spend long hours thirsty and hungry while breaking babau in the forests, these situations may be common.

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319 others in worst condition. Much later, a nurse came to take her. She stood up to leave for an examination room, but all in a sudden, with a roar, she bent forward, and a form covered in blood fell on the floor, between her legs. Enveloped by the smell of blood, in my imagined ritual performed through reversed rites of passage, consolidating the negation of life itself, the unborn sacrifice was finally delivered to the gods of the land of landlords. Trabalho Livre Within and Outside Terra Liberta Sitting on the veranda of dona Maria’s house, almost on the shoulder of the road, facing the fenced pastures on the other side of the highway, I was talking to women in the village of P de Pequi. Blacks and Northeast immigrants from villages swept away by fazendas, people who had passed through experiences in urban towns and garimpos, young landless couples with parents still living in villages (but without enough land), they were all now struggling to make their income through occasional dirias, daily-wage jobs, and babau breaking on fazendas. Although these incomes would mostly end in everyday survival, the ultimate goal was to have enough to rent far away lands to plant their own roas. Men would travel around, from June to August, to hunt for these opportunities. Many would work on a relative’s village lands, and others in far away areas like the regio da mata. 5 Others would not plant roas, but harvest others’ roas and earn half of what they get. Certainly, a universe of specific social relations is to be found in these roadside villages, and urgent research is needed. However, for the purposes of this research, there it was, eagerly sought trabalho pr patro, work for a 5 This last ecological and economic refugee for the landless is located in the southwestern portion of the Mearim basin, near the Graja river.

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320 boss, as a lever to get to trabalho sem patro, that constant presence in the delineation of the ethnic boundaries of the people I was studying. Throughout research sites in the Mearim valley, either with a concentration of situations recognized as social movements or not, I found these ways of life centered on trabalho sem patro, both a material and symbolic set of social relations from which gender relations cannot be dissociated. Ways of life emerged from multiple life trajectories of families, individually or in villages, differentiated in loci of dispersions of points of choice, set out by how these peoples had interacted among themselves and with dominant sectors of society, throughout slavery, migration, and overall struggles to survival. While political mobilization and consolidation of social movements were recognized in specific social situations, invisible forms of resistance were also to be found in these groups living in roadside villages, fazendas’ surroundings, and urban neighborhoods, where residents have performed babau breaking and roas in unusual places. 6 The same discourses of development that drive governmental actions in “settlement projects” of Agrarian reform, also drive the “regional development projects” that promoted and supported the expansion of cattle ranching squeezing roadside villages against the fences. On the one hand, as we have seen in Chapter 3, women are made instrumentally visible to be overexploited in the failures of development projects; on the other hand women are made invisible through their silent practices, ignored for their alleged passivity and false consciousness. In both cases, this multi-faceted “general” 6 In the municipality of Cod, where there are numerous terras de preto, women living in urban neighborhoods left every morning for babau breaking outside of town. For several years, the municipality provided two trucks to take and pick them up at several points along the highway,

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321 history has been denied and made invisible by the “total” history of global and national society. Having walked through these diverse situations, I attempt now to answer the three questions I set out for this dissertation. Answering Research Questions What Forms of Gender and Other Social Relations Are Made Invisible (by the Various Actors)? Throughout this dissertation we have seen that multiple forms of gender relations have been intertwined with a complex history, and often reversed and overturned during periods of conflict and struggle. In chapter 2, we have seen that, the myriad of forms of how men and women relate to each other, establishing their ways of life based on trabalho livre, are made invisible by the discourse of development. The forms of gender and other social relations that are made invisible by the various actors are exactly those forms that do not conform to this discourse. According to Escobar (1992:23), “by means of this discourse, individuals, governments, and communities are seen as ‘underdeveloped’ or placed under conditions in which they tend to see themselves as such.” Once they are seen, and begin to see themselves as “underdeveloped,” then they become visible for the agencies of development, which can then take control and “develop” them. In Monte Alegre, and throughout the Mearim valley, I have met those who do not see themselves as underdeveloped, and not only that, they do not live as such, but engage themselves in trabalho livre, made possible by specific forms of gender relations. These forms of gender relations that cannot be dissociated from trabalho livre are made invisible by the various actors performing, consciously or not, according to the dictates of development, because they are difficult to organize and control, and trouble from where they walked to the forests. Men negotiated with villagers and fazendeiros the

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322 proper participation. These are the forms that disturb the continuity of the total history of development. In chapter 2, I discussed that this erasure process was present not only in the development actions promoted by the propagators of the “gender and development” discourses, but also may be present in social movements. Theoretically speaking, I believe that one of the difficulties in identifying this erasure process amongst us is due to our attempts to explain gender associated with trabalho livre solely through approaches based on either class or culture. Those who have not joined the Povo do Mutiro in their class struggles, or have not been perceived as maintaining culturally exotic aspects of their ways of life, such as Monte Alegre, tend to be at margins of our focus of attention. I believe that the concept of ethnicity would help to better understand what forms of gender relations were made invisible and why. I discuss two views based on ethnicity that hold opposite conclusions for the fate of the peasantry, and therefore its economy, based on the gender relations involved in trabalho livre. Although in practice, Kearney (1996:172) views social class as “an abstract concept that historically has provided little basis for deeply felt solidarity among subalterns,” he maintains that class is a basic theoretical and political issue. Even so, he proposes an alternative, reticular view, in contrast to a binary, sharply delineated view of class. In these reticula, people currently conceptualized as peasants would agglutinate toward an ethnicity as a form of transformative politics in search of new identities. According to Kearney, in this search, as global conditions do not favor those whose possibility of planting roas, exchanging labor or paying rent.

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323 identities still conform to the classical conceptualization of peasant, peasants are doomed to disappear. 7 My observations in the Mearim valley do not confirm his predictions, but attribute this “disappearance” of the peasantry to academic and development views that make specific forms of social relations, especially gender, invisible. As we have seen throughout this dissertation, though invisible, specific combinations of multiple forms of gender relations have allowed the formation, maintenance and reproduction of peasant villages. In spite of tremendous challenges to their economics and environments, and little support from the so-called multi-ethnic Brazilian society, both through recognized social movements and through invisible and silent forms of resistance, gender relations based on trabalho livre have sustained peasant ways of life within this antagonistic society. Once we recognize their social existence, we need to recognize what forms of social relations are made invisible, leading us to believe that, although still existing, they are disappearing with the motions of development and globalization. This requires new forms of visibility. A helpful view is offered by Barth, who conceptualizes society as a system in which multiple ethnic groups interact in their dependence on ecological and demographic adaptations, and identities and values are mutually influenced by this collective dependence. In processes of antagonistic interactions such as those in our multi-ethnic capitalist society, men and women identified by themselves and by outsiders as a people living on trabalho livre, may indeed face 7 The classical concept would involve “self-directed subsistence agricultural production and (existence) in relations of political and economic inequality with non-peasants” (Kearney 1996:18)

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324 “circumstances where such an identity can be moderately successfully realized, and limits beyond which such success is precluded. I will argue that ethnic identity will not be retained beyond these limits because allegiance to basic value standards will not be sustained where one’s own comparative performance is utterly inadequate. The two components in this relative measure of success are, first, the performance of others and, secondly, the alternatives open to oneself” (Barth 1981:214). These two components are present in the “effect of trabalho livre at village level” as studied in Chapter 5. At an individual and family level, he affirms that the transit of subjects across the ethnic boundary makes the boundary itself more remarkable instead of erasing it (1981:198). I believe an anthropological study is not about making generalizations based on the ratio of how many people leave a peasant way of life, and how many remain in trabalho livre. Rather, it is about the significance and contextuality of what the subjects define as boundaries, as long and in whatever number they consider themselves to be a social group and live as such. It is about understanding both the force of what makes some people maintain the gender relations recognized as appropriate to their ethnic group, constructing them everyday, and what makes others cross their ethnic boundaries. I believe that these boundaries specified by Barth, in the case of the Mearim valley, are demarcated by access to land and forest resources for roas for at least key members of a village, in conjunction to specific gender relations at work in distributing the results of trabalho livre on these resources. In more jeopardized stages, such as P de Pequi, the boundary can be defined by access to forests for babau breaking as the main form of trabalho livre in lieu of roa, as the hierarchy of priorities discussed in Chapter 5. I have registered villages socially recognized as such, which have as few as five families, in contrast to others with more than a hundred and fifty families. Surely not all members of these villages have access to land and forest resources every year, but in spite of that,

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325 they maintain gender relations driving the distribution of production consistent with their ways of life. And it is this effort to hold on to ways of life without a patro, and the longing for village self-control, that makes it impossible for me to see the evolving of the multiple forms of gender relations observed in Mearim valley as fading remnants. Saying that they are a “small percentage” of “mostly older people” (Kearney 1996:21) makes the significance of this struggle, either through babau breaking or social security, even more meaningful, and invisibility unacceptable. Besides, related to cases such as those of the peasantry, Barth (1981:215) states that: “in some situations, access to critical means of production by virtue of practicing a certain subsistence, entails a whole style of life, and all these characteristics are subsumed under an ethnic label. On the other hand, in other situations, it is possible to obtain control over means of production through transaction that does not involve their other activities; ethnic identity is then not necessarily affected, and this opens the way of diversification.” This is exactly the situation I observed in the Mearim valley, and this is why that diversification, observed in loci of dispersion of points of choice, generating multiple forms of gender relations, should not be made invisible. Gender relations observed in trajectories such as that of Maria Pretinho or those that formed P de Pequi, and other villages with little access to land and forests, need to be carefully examined. Also, discontinuous and disruptive trajectories such as Nazir, Dij and dona Vitalina’s, which although within the focus of the social movements and agrarian reform, do not conform to development discourses, require further attention. Gender lived in these trajectories are the forms made invisible to the governmental and nongovernmental agencies of development because they do not fit the requirements of the development discourse. They are also invisible to the social movements because they seem inert to the calls of the class

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326 struggles. Anthropologists, as well, do not find great interest in them, as they seem so absorbed by and subordinated to capitalist relations, that they only become ethnically visible if they manage to be linked to issues supported by ‘sustainable development’ or ‘gender and development’. To elaborate the adequate visibility required to examine these forms of gender and other social relations made invisible, we need to refine our theoretical links. In the same way that we needed to incorporate the concept of ethnicity in class analysis, the class contradiction should be also incorporated in the study of ethnic boundaries. I believe that gender relations based on trabalho livre can be successfully viewed as relations combining and evolving through trajectories that articulate the peasant mode of production with the capitalist mode as suggested by Wolf. I think that dissolving peasants within the working class in the capitalist mode, as suggested by de Janvry (see question 3), will dangerously make invisible the essential aspects of noncapitalist, inter and intraclass social relations, which have been empirically observed well beyond the introduction of capitalism in the Amazon. Also, contrary to Kearney’s observations, I have consistently registered situations in which, paying attention to their self-ascribed ethnic boundaries as suggested by Barth, peasants have indicated the significance of roa, a symbol and a practice related to trabalho livre, a form of labor consistent with the classical peasant concept. So, as long as this significance exists in the discourses and practices of the people of roa, the ethnographer goes forward “like someone who could see the invisible” (Hebrews 11:27)

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327 How Are Gender and Other Social Relations Transformed in Times of Conflict, Struggle and Political Resistance? In chapter 2, we have seen how women and men involved in the struggles of the Mutiro have transformed their gender and social relations, among themselves and in relation to the dominant sectors. As conflictive contexts pushed peasants to garimpo, new frontiers, open conflicts, or displacements, men and women began to change their approaches to ethnically defined norms regulating production and reproduction, transforming gender relations. In Chapter 3, we learned how gender relations were reversed and overturned throughout the “time of captivity,” “time of being owner of one’s self” and “time of struggle.” In political resistances such as the Povo do Mutiro or the struggle of Monte Alegre for its terra de preto, these transformations seemed more evident because they were expressed to the public eye. In these situations, gender transformations implied advancement toward gender equality, because women were viewed as political protagonists. However, transformations involving invisibility of gender relations such as those of Maria Pretinho and her sons, or those that led to the overexploitation of women in the development actions of the agrarian reform in Monte Alegre, are less evident. They sound more like continuity in the erosion of a culture, or results of false consciousness, and backwardness confirming the discourses of underdevelopment. On the one hand, gender relations are transformed in times of conflict and political resistance toward greater visibility of women, achievements for practical and strategic needs, and the emergence of new political identities (e.g., Lago do Junco). On the other hand, in the crevices of villages in the focus of governmental actions (e.g., Monte Alegre), and in already displaced and expropriated peoples (e.g., P de Pequi), transformations in gender

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328 relations are either invisible or apparently move toward greater gender inequality with further subordination of women. Ineffective to react against invisibility and loss of their means of production, their gender relations would be transformed into those imposed by the dominant sectors: gender relations among the most powerless of the disorganized jobless proletarians, the so-called labor reserve army. However, this is not what I have heard from the interviewees. We have discussed how loci of dispersion of points of choice have historically resulted in multiple trajectories, and how this intertwined diversity has constituted a people, the formation of a peasantry. We have learned of how multiple forms of living trabalho livre have been intertwined to form the general history of gender in the Mearim valley. Although peasant relations, and its specific gender relations based on trabalho livre, are less evident in the former situations, this diversity of trajectories should not be forgotten, and the potential for political transformation disregarded. Made aware by my observations in social situations at the margins of the recognized social movements, I propose a more detailed investigation on the transformations of gender. I start from trabalho livre, as this form of labor is the basis of my conceptualization for gender in the Mearim valley. One of Marx’s (1967:766) greatest lessons was that capital is not a “thing, but a social relation between persons, established by the instrumentality of things.” Therefore, merely saying that a peasant has lost his/her trabalho livre, and is becoming a proletarian because s/he sells her/his labor and receives an amount of money labeled as a wage does not mean much. It should not make him or her invisible to the peasant social movements and anthropologists. Rather, we need to look at how this instrument, the money, is related to his/her social relations.

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329 How this apparently passive, silent form of negotiating articulation with capitalist systems, can be also identified as a strategic transformation. In our example in P de Pequi, I observed men selling their labor in a well-established labor market to gain wages, but through ethnographic interviews and direct observation, I learned that this wage, in a peasant’s hand, might be used neither for profit nor always for mere subsistence. 8 If the money the peasant received as wage was to be used in another capitalist social relation, we could say that peasants were indeed becoming either proletarians or capitalist. In the latter case, with the wage earned, s/he would buy only the means of subsistence to merely maintain his/her own labor-force or to reproduce new laborers, all forced to sell their labor as commodities in the market. In the former case, s/he would use this money to buy commodities that, sold in the market, would bring profit, or would apply this money to buy labor from a fellow, and to reproduce the process of surplus extraction. On the other hand, although from the etic point of view this money can be considered as a wage, because the fazendeiro extracted surplus from the peasant, perceptually it may not be a wage from the emic peasant perspective. 9 Materialistically speaking, this money may not be used as an instrument to reproduce a new cycle of capitalist social relations. If this is true, the capitalist relation ceases and the money 8 To demonstrate that peasants are fated to disappear, De Janvry alleged that Chayanov could argue for their resilience because he did not include profit in his analysis, as there was no labor market in the situation he was dealing with. I do not think the argument is valid for my study because, in the Amazon, there has been a labor market since the 17th century (Forman 1975), and the absence of profit is still empirically observed in peasant groups in diverse social situations. 9 According to Marvin Harris’ definitions, “emic statements refer to logico-empirical systems whose phenomenal distinctions or ‘things’ are built up out of contrasts and discriminations significant, meaningful, real, accurate, or in some other fashion regarded as appropriate by the actors themselves.” Etic statements, on the other hand, “depend on phenomenal distinctions judged appropriate by the community of scientific observers” (1968:571).

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330 becomes just a “thing.” By definition, wage is the part of the total value of the commodity produced by labor, which the capitalist pays to maintain the laborer’s subsistence and nothing more. Therefore, for those peasants who have managed to maintain their access to the means of production of roa, or access to the results of its production distributed through gender relations as discussed in Chapter 5, the wage earned will provide the moving force to produce more than just new labor. The money will enter the peasant system to provide the reproduction of gender relations related to trabalho livre. Therefore, the capitalist uses peasant labor in the capitalist mode, but once the transaction is concluded, the wage will be transformed into a “thing” that is not capital per se, because it is no longer an instrument of a capitalist social relation; rather it is a component of another mode of production. I believe that this amazing economic “twist,” performed on cash earned through babau breaking, checks received as social security, and wage paid to juquireiros, 10 is the expression of a struggle and a form of ethnic resistance. It reaffirms the ethnic boundary delineated by the practice of trabalho livre. Although it is difficult to place them either in a “pure” type of peasant mode of production, or in the capitalist type, this resistance involves transformations in gender relations that demand strategic relationships, which in the end maintain their own ways of life. Besides, as Wolf (1982:100) clarifies, modes of production are not “types into which human societies may be sorted. They are put forth as constructs with which to envisage certain strategic relationships that shape the terms under which human lives are conducted.” In the Mearim valley, we have seen that gender relations are a major strategic relationship that shapes the performance and distribution of results of trabalho

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331 livre. Therefore, gender relations are indeed constantly transformed in times of conflict, struggles, and political resistance observed in the social movements. However, by strategically obtaining resources through capitalist relations to support trabalho livre in their ways of life, we can see that, at the margin of the recognized social movements, there are also forms of resistance transforming gender relations. At this point in my answer regarding the transformation of gender relations in the Mearim valley, I must acknowledge that I certainly observed social situations in which these transformations were clearly toward complete integration in capitalist relations, not only in times of conflict and struggle. Surely, in the vulnerable contexts of development and globalization lived by peasants, capitalists strongly affect the means of production in the hands of the peasants. Increasingly, there are social situations in which only the worst soils, or areas of difficult access are made available to men as observed in many of the visited villages, and access through unfavorable economic arrangements and fallen palms are the only forest resources available to women. Capitalists try to control the type of tools and seeds to be used, and insecticides and herbicides are increasingly contaminating the resources available. By determining prices of peasant labor and the inputs and outputs of their production, access to and types of credit, extension services, roads and transportation, etc. capitalists threaten the nature and degree of peasant access to their means of production. Therefore, the question of how gender relations are transformed in these situations is answered by how trabalho livre is defined by each peasant social group as a specific form of labor. “By labor-power or capacity for labor is to be understood the aggregate of those mental and physical capabilities existing in a human being, which he exercises 10 The so-called juquireiros are those men hired by fazendeiros to clear pastures.

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332 whenever he produces a use-value of any description (Marx 1967:167).” This conjunction of physical and perceptual capabilities will help us to see the potential transformations in gender relations, by broadening the labor concept. Marx (1967:178) had asked himself: “What is the difference between the labor of the best bee and the worst of the architects?” “Imagination” was his answer. Imagination is what makes human labor truly distinctive as social beings, and what makes each form of imagined labor truly distinctive of an ethnic group. As Wolf (1982:75) has pointed out, “Marx’s concept of production incorporates his insistence that the human species produces with both hand and headhumans conceptualize and plan the labor process. Labor thus presupposes intentionality, and therefore information and meaning. Just as labor is always social labor, information and meaning are always social.” Imagination may recall a diffuse capability of dreaming, of creation, and in times of conflict, struggles and political resistance, such imagination is above all related to a revolutionary and effective capability of creation and transformation (including transformations of gender relations) grounded in concrete material and social realities. I recognize my own absolute incapability of imagining myself relying for the future of my sons on a network of neighbors, or consistently sharing today’s rice without having assurances for tomorrow’s meals, and at the bottom line, of investing my labor in a mode that does not have the guarantees of the powerful rulers of the world. But, at the same time, I am not blind to the concrete, either joyful or painful, results of peasant imagination of a trabalho sem patro. I begin to see the effects of this labor invested in ways of life based on gender and other social relations not sanctioned by the mainstream assurances of capitalism.

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333 Imagination belongs to each and every gendered individual. However its full expression is always social, because as men and women are, above all, social constructions, their mental capabilities are generated in the intersection of their trajectories, which have formed their social fabric. Therefore, any development action aiming at gender equality, that fragments this intersected form of imagined labor, is doomed to fail. In sum, while there is one aspect of labor that is the physical ability to produce products or commodities that, in the Mearim valley, have been constantly appropriated and controlled through capitalist relations, there is also this second aspect of labor, in which such control and appropriation is not so easily accomplished. This second aspect involves the capabilities of perceiving, imagining, thinking, feeling, and creating, which come from the historically constructed “woman” and “man” composing a peasant village. Obviously capitalists can and do influence this second aspect by controlling peasants’ means of information, such as communication and education, which strongly affect how men and women relate. 11 However, my field observations showed me that this process is not linear or unidirectional, but passes through loci of dispersion of points of choice, delineating a multiplicity of trajectories intertwined in a general history. What capitalists cannot control is how each man and woman will process the information they have; how it will be transformed into knowledge and imagination; how it will be used in 11 In the German Ideology (1965:61) Marx and Engels state that “as they (capitalists) rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an epoch, it is evident that they do this in its whole range, hence among other things, rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the idea of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch.” I do agree that those who dominate the material means can indeed rule the ideas, but I argue that, differently than proletarians, a whole thorough social process is needed for a peasant to buy the ruling idea, because so far s/he lives a different mode of production itself embedded in a distinct ideology and material condition.

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334 decision-making, and ultimately, in the transformations of their gender relations. In sum, as gender relations are transformed, some will acquire education, social security and wage jobs, with the aim of leaving the peasant mode of production; others will do the same to make this mode feasible in the capitalist market economy. And I begin to realize that since the peasant ways of life in the Mearim valley is very much based on face-to-face relations, the fact that a significant number of people leave the village might be a means to maintain its core. For the full expression of the capitalist mode of production, this component of labor – imagination – ought to be erased from the laborers through complete alienation between labor and laborer (Marx 1987:322-335). Therefore, as in the Mearim valley this alienation is not complete, gender relations connected to trabalho livre continuously feed the ethnicity of a people engaged in the articulation of both modes. Marx (1987:737) described how in Western Europe by the end of the 15 th and during the 16 th century, people living on agricultural or pastoral activities were “first forcibly expropriated from the soil, driven from their homes, turned into vagabonds, and then whipped, branded, tortured by laws grotesquely terrible, into the discipline necessary for the wage system.” Like the situation of P de Pequi, people indeed have been expropriated and submitted to absurd laws and policies, but the legal and operative efforts to discipline their minds to transform them into proletarians did not thoroughly reach all the social and geographical spaces of the Mearim valley. So, surrounded by fazendas and tortured by rites of humiliation and death, they sell their labor clearing pastures, but keep these relations articulated with babau breaking as a form of trabalho sem patro and roas in far away terras sem dono. In addition, theoretically speaking, as there is no

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335 market for peasants’ imagination in the narrowness of the capitalist market in the Mearim valley, peasants’ labor cannot be completely transformed into an integral commodity. Therefore, this imagined and practiced labor, that is, trabalho livre, and the gender relations associated with it, will be continuously transformed in times of conflict and struggle, and political resistance, and the results of these transformations are defined by how they are articulated with our gender and other social relations in capitalist economy. How Do Multiple Forms of Gender Relations Combine and Evolve in Specific Trajectories of Village Formation and Struggles? We have seen in Chapter 1 and 2 that the multiple forms of gender relations observed in the Mearim valley cannot be dissociated from trabalho livre, a major expression of the trajectories composing its ways of life. Therefore, the answer to this question needs to start by theoretically positioning trabalho livre. We have also seen in Chapter 3 that, in the Mearim valley, fazendas, now adapted to capitalist systems, have taken over peoples and places, provoking changes in how men and women are constructed as social categories. Gender relations have been transformed in times of struggle and political resistance. As we have discussed in Chapter 4, the fact that these changes, which affect village formation and struggles, are not regionally isolated, but are the result of a general history that in addition to local multiple trajectories, also involves other ethnic groups in national and international contexts (Chapter 4). These contexts intrinsically affect both the trajectories involving confrontations, such as those resulting in the conflict of Monte Alegre, and trajectories of displacement, as illustrated by roadside villages such as P de Pequi. Multiple forms of gender relations observed in these diverse situations have combined and evolved in specific trajectories of village formation and struggle, linked to

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336 the multi-ethnic capitalist society by these contexts that Marx called unequal development of capitalism. 12 In an almost linear incorporation of new development sites, this view would answer my third research question by predicting that these multiple forms of gender relations based on trabalho livre would evolve to its elimination. 13 In contrast to Marx’s view, Baran and Sweezy, and later Gunder Frank, and the scholars of the so-called “development of underdevelopment school,” presented another perspective. Instead, they proposed a model in which the center would not enter crisis, but would be sustained at the expense of stagnating forever-peripheral sites. For them, the development of the forces of production in the center would cause the underdevelopment of the forces of production in the periphery, because the periphery was supposed to continuously send surpluses to the center. These authors described the stagnation in the periphery mainly as a result of external impositions, without looking at the internal dynamisms, possibilities and contradictions in the periphery itself. 14 In both views, the combination of multiple forms of gender relations associated to trabalho livre would evolve to its disappearance. 12 My analysis here is supported by De Janvry and Wolf readings of Marx. 13 According to Marx, the development of capitalism is unequal because it involves a dyadic process of accumulation-stagnation. The process of accumulation is created by the class nature of capitalism (inter-class conflict and intra-class competition), and functions through the law of motion of capitalism. This law states that produced capital is only definitely turned into capital when put into circulation, generating the dialectical unit of production and circulation. But this process carries an intrinsic contradiction: the smaller the wage paid, the greater the productivity (inducing greater production); however, the smaller the wage, the smaller the number of buyers (inducing less circulation). Marx, Luxemburg, Lenin and Bukharin, in different ways, predicted that because of this contradictory nature of capitalism (accumulation provoking stagnation), its development in the center would be followed by crisis. Capitalists would then promote development in the periphery to compensate for the crisis in the center. As crisis would follow in the periphery for the same reasons it occurred in the center, new peripheries would be continually incorporated. 14 Wallerstein’s model differed from the development of underdevelopment school because he viewed capitalism as a system of commodity production made possible by a world division of labor. Differences in power among nations maintained inequality by trade relations, not social class relations.

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337 De Janvry did not agree with either Marx’s law of unequal development or the school of underdevelopment’s model to explain why capitalism did not fully absorb all societies including the peasants. Although admitting that there is surplus extraction from disarticulated to articulated economies, he saw possibilities of growth in the periphery instead of stagnation. 15 According to him, the continuous extraction from the periphery is not based on the same type of social relations everywhere, nor is it only given by unequal exchange, as alleged by Wallerstein. Rather, it depends on the types of alliances that are historically made between certain classes in articulated and disarticulated economies (De Janvry 1981:22). Where there is an alliance among metropolitan bourgeoisie, dependent bourgeoisie, and landed elites, we will observe the supply of cheap labor and cheap food prevailing. The proletariat will be in opposition, and we will have a repressive state. On the other hand, an alliance among national bourgeoisie, agrarian bourgeoisie, peasantry, and proletariat, will result in a welfare state, investments in planning, and social democracy. It is important to remember here that, in either of these articulated scenarios proposed by De Janvry, the men and women involved relate to each other, within and between the interacting social segments, combining their multiple forms of gender relations, and in either scenario, specific village formation and struggle will take place. Therefore, this articulated view calls for the self-critical and relational conceptualization of gender discussed in Chapter 4, because here we can see that the gender lived by the 15 De Janvry thinks that growth in the periphery is still possible, in spite of the extraction by the center, because the rate of surplus value is higher in the periphery than in center. Besides, the stagnation is not observed in the whole periphery, but only in peasant and artisan spheres. In the regional disparity at national level, Maranho would be a good example for his argument. This is consistent with Marx’s law of unequal development (taken at a national level) and not with the

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338 author and the reader is also articulated and part of how village formation and struggle will take place. In the Mearim valley, diverse modes of production, understood as specific processes of production with corresponding social relations (including gender relations), have gone through diverse forms of labor exploitation: enslavement, trabalho livre em terra sem dono, fazendas, agrarian reform, development actions, etc. within capitalism. In each articulated mode, every social segment interacting in the general history, nationally and internationally, is responsible for part of the village formation and struggles. According to De Janvry, who assumed a situation of functional dualism in which the traditional semi-proletariat co-exists with a modern full proletariat, peasants’ access to land will cease, because of the competition for land against capitalist agricultural enterprises. No longer peasants, their surpluses will continue to be extracted through the informal economy. For him, peasants are a class or part of a class in different, articulated modes of productions, which coexist only during the social formation of capitalism as a new mode of production. In this sense, peripheral capitalism with primitive accumulation would be only a phase, and whatever combination of forms of gender relations based on trabalho livre is managed, they are fated to vanish. Once capitalism is definitely established, peasants as a class would disappear. According to de Janvry (1981: 106), only authors who want to minimize the exploitation of the peasants as a class propose the articulation of peasant mode and capitalist mode as more than a transitory stage. Like Kearney, I do not assume peasant as a class by definition, but I believe peasants may strategically participate in a class type of organization in specific situations. underdevelopment school, although later Cardoso acknowledged the possibility of growth in the periphery.

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339 But, I do not believe that the peasant mode is transitory. This is consistent to Wolf’s view, who, also using Marxian 16 analytical concepts and framework, offers an alternative for our question on how multiple forms of gender relations would affect village formation and struggles. Wolf (1969:279) viewed capitalism as the result of a cultural system, in which its economic categories were imposed by diffusion to other geographically and historically distinct cultural systems. Pointing out that domination of one cultural system over another was not exclusive nor initiated by capitalism, he differentiated it from other forms of exploitations (serfdom, slavery, etc.), showing that capitalism affected peasants’ inner social organization by transforming land, labor and products into commodities. However, diverging from Marx and De Janvry’s predictions that the peasant mode would disappear as capitalism was fully developed, Wolf’s position was that peasants’ increasing relations with markets might affect, but not dissolve, the peasant system. He showed that diverse forms of dominance can co-exist for prolonged periods of time (examples in Asia and Latin America), and therefore are not expressions of an evolutionary linear path. Wolf (1966:54-5) argued that capitalist relations alone cannot define the future of the peasantry, but rather it will be defined by the course of different arrangements in social relations observed in the various areas in the world. These are the social relations I wanted to allegorically illustrate in Chapter 4, by contrasting families from different segments in our multi-ethnic Brazilian society. While trabalho livre is articulated to capitalism, so are gender relations in the Mearim valley articulated with gender relations in capitalist realms. In the same way that gender relations in the Mearim 16 To explain his divergence from Marx’s view on the fate of the peasantry while using his approach, Wolf (1982) makes a distinction between the terms Marxist and Marxian, the former being related to the predictive aspect of the sequence capitalism, expansion, crisis and

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340 valley cannot be dissociated from trabalho livre, the men and women we are, and the gender relations we live, cannot be dissociated from how we deal with our capitalist labor. By amalgamating European, African, American and Asian histories through the accounting of routes, trades, ideas and population movements (directed or spontaneous migration), Wolf worked on a worldwide system of links connecting the so-called cradle of capitalism with other social systems. 17 According to him, these other social systems, including those based on trabalho livre, contributed to and sustained the birth and development of capitalism. And according to me, these social systems also contributed and sustained the birth and development of the capitalist “man” and “woman,” and the gender relations allowed by capitalism. That is why we cannot talk about gender in the Mearim valley, without articulating it with gender in capitalist societies. In this case, the multiple forms of gender relations observed in the Mearim valley would continue to be based on trabalho sem patro, either paying rent or on their own lands, either on family plots or on lands of common use, but definitely articulated to capitalist markets for labor and products. Therefore, the answer to how the multiple forms of gender relations in the Mearim valley are combined and evolve in village formation and struggles is given by the agency of the local actors and the consolidation of transformation into socialism. The latter is related to the concepts, relations and structural framework as instruments used to explain the nature and work of conflicting social relations. 17 I completely agree with Wolf that “anthropology needs to discover history,” and demystifying isolated and hegemonic views of history, a continuous total history, was his greatest contribution. However, I also believe that history needs to discover anthropology. As a matter of fact, Khaldun, a Tunisian historian of the fourteenth century, was already asking for a science such as anthropology (Lacoste 1984). History misses the many invisible heroes, characters, and events that can be ethnographically or ethno-historically discovered. They still are not part of the official history, not only for Americans and Europeans, but also for the broader societies of the “peoples without history.”

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341 a knowledgeable social movement in negotiating this articulation. But the answer is also given by how these processes are articulated by capitalist men and women, as they live their own gender, labor and products in capitalist markets, either as consumers or producers. “Since the key relationships governing the mobilization of social labor differ for each mode, and since each mode produces its own disjunctions, the encounter of different modes spells contradictions and conflicts for the populations they encompass. To envisage human aggregates interconnected in time and space, yet, responding to the forces generated by various modes of production, impels us to think in more processual ways about the notion of society” (Wolf 1982:386-387). We have seen that gender is a key relationship governing the mobilization of trabalho livre as a social labor. As capital is not a thing, but a social relation, and social relations are only lived by gendered social beings, certainly gender relations are also key to capitalist labor. Gender relations in both modes will be transformed, therefore, in the processual ways men and women in articulated economies use their gender to govern the mobilization of their articulated social labor, to construct, not only “the village,” but their societies. Conclusion: Gender Relations in the Mearim Valley I attempted to answer my research questions with the help of political economy frameworks, because through them, I could better organize and explain my findings. However, thinking about what to do with these findings, I ponder what to do with ways of life whose strength comes from the multiplicity of trajectories, unleashed and disruptive labor, a people who emerged from the contradictions of dominant systems that work to control and develop them? I could neither envision a class-based revolution, nor a multi-ethnic coalition to challenge the unfairness of gender relations. Certainly gender inequalities are not only present in the most immediate and visible consequences of

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342 development actions, but also in both symbolic and material aspects of peasant ways of life in the Mearim valley. My dissertation examined gender relations associated to trabalho sem patro, an ideal and a practice centered in roas, whose production and distribution of results defines the social relations in ways of life of a peasant village. The centrality of roa coincides with the culturally assigned male domain, and this practical and symbolic overlap entails male dominance in the ways of life in the Mearim valley. As we have seen throughout the chapters, gender relations impregnated by this hierarchy have been reversed and overturned throughout their conflictive history. Even so, male dominance in the everyday social situations lived by the men and women I have researched has often been taken as a “state of nature.” 18 According to Bourdieu (1999), the processes that naturalize male dominance over women do not operate either at biological or psychological or even at consciousness levels, and therefore cannot be solved through individual endeavors such as therapies of psychoanalysis, nor collective campaigns against false consciousness, based on the premises of political economy. The effectiveness and resilience of male domination is based on a collective complicity between dominants and dominated who live according to the same code of powers. Therefore, according to him, only collective resistance will be able to transform the social conditions that have historically produced this power and related institutions. “The complicity between the victims of the symbolic domination and the dominants can be ruptured with the radical transformation of the social conditions that produce the tendencies leading the dominated to adopt the dominants’ point of view” (Bourdieu 1999:54).

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343 Many authors have pointed to social movements as the protagonists in charge of this “radical transformation of social conditions.” Many hopes are pinned on the grassroots, social movements, and many critiques are on the enunciators of the discourses of development. I do agree very much with that. However, after learning about gender relations associated with trabalho livre in multiple life trajectories intertwined in a general history, I believe that these critiques are necessary, but not sufficient; the support to the social movements is essential, but not enough. I believe that, in the articulation of gender relations associated to trabalho livre with the gender relations associated to capitalist economy, there are already many ruptures on the peasant side. Although the peasant code of power does enforce male dominance, we have seen that women in multiple trajectories have, with little resources and support, reversed and overturned this code. Not only within recognized social movements, but also in invisible and silent forms of resistance, there are ruptures claiming a radical transformation of the social conditions. However, as we have seen, only a joint effort to break with the overall subordination imbued in the articulated peasant economy will liberate gender relations associated to trabalho livre, so that peasant women and men themselves may transform the relations of male domination permeating their ways of life. This articulated effort requires continuous and consistent critiques against the International Agencies of Development, or as Kurian calls them, the “Leviathans” of development. However, I argue that it also requires a self-critique on the gender relations carried out by the author and the reader living on the capitalist side of the articulation. “Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? Canst thou put an hook into his nose? Will he make many supplications unto thee? Will he speak soft works unto thee? Will 18 See discussion on Locke’s “state of nature” by Pateman (1989) in The Disorder of Women.

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344 he make a covenant with thee? Wilt thou take him for a servant forever? (Job 41:1-4, cited in Kurian 2000:91). Evidence so far suggests that the International Agencies of Development have not been drawn out with a hook, and the changes are unlikely to come from them. So, I believe that the same question should be made within our own ethnic groups, social movements, research teams, and overall, to our Selves. Can we change? Will we make a covenant with ourselves, and with the partners of our articulated ways of life? In trying to gain the knowledge to treat “endangered” peasant gender relations, to follow the World Bank’s order to “empower” the women of the Mearim valley, I have found the powerlessness of my gender expert authority, in that I myself have not been able to reject my dominant condition in the articulation of our ways of life. If men are not dominant as a result of a “state of nature,” what makes them opt for it and prevents them from rejecting this condition as women are rejecting their subordinated condition? 19 If capitalist men and women are not dominant as a result of a “state of nature,” what makes us keep searching for ways to isolate, diagnose, treat, and control gender relations associated to trabalho livre? What prevents us from rejecting our dominant capitalist condition, as peasants are rejecting their subordinated condition? I believe that this answer is a last invisibility to be unveiled in this study: the powerlessness of our own gender relations lived in the capitalist system. If we make the reverse path of how Foucault’s Psychopathologist invented the Mad Man, and how Escobar’s Developed Capitalist invented the Underdeveloped Third World by the force of their discourses, we may realize that these discourses have also invented the authority of those enunciating them. If lack of power leads the Underdeveloped to see him/herself

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345 as such, powerlessness is also present in the fact that the Developed, the authority, the dominant man cannot free him/herself from the invention of his own dominant “power.” So, the powerlessness of the people of the Mearim valley is not only about the lack of economic and environmental material resources of which they were expropriated, and must righteously recover. This lack of power comes also from the fact that people in trabalho livre have not been able to make visible to the Developed, the powerlessness of their ways of life based on extracted surplus labor, in the same way the Developed has tried to convince them of its powerless underdeveloped condition. In this sense, the problem of political economy is that “the misery of the worker is inversely proportional to the power and volume of his production” (Marx 1994:58). This assumption implies that, at the dominant end of the capitalist side of the articulation, there is no misery, because one has achieved the appropriation of the power and magnitude of the laborers’ production. In this assumption rests the invention of the authority and power of the capitalist, a subjective assumption of power that concretely puts in motion the objective structures that materialize the invented authority and power (Bourdieu 1999). In terms of gender, early Marxist feminists seemed also to fall for the assumption of this type of power. Colonization was viewed as detrimental to women in the sense that they lost power. “An Indian had his clothes stripped from him by his enraged wife. She then took the tent from the poles, leaving him naked. She took their property to the canoe” (Turner 1894:271, cited in Etienne and Leacock 1980:40). Leacock saw this incident among the Seneca as a sign of women’s control over the products of their labor 19 Sheriff (2000) has also found that the silent, invisible practices expressed by oppressed groups do not correspond to the scenarios of compliance between dominant and dominated as proposed

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346 and practical power and influence. Among the Tinglit, women’s power is depicted as being derived from their roles as managers of gift accumulation. “Since very ancient times the women have been the keepers of the family treasures, they are generally in a position to dictate terms” (Knapp and Childe 1896:61, cited in Klein 1980:94). In the Trobriand case, Weiner cites Deacon’s report to make her case for women’s power before colonization. According to him, men were afraid of women of high rank, who were believed to hold such power that men could die from its effects (Weiner 1980:278, cited in Etienne and Leacock 1980). I am not questioning the veracity of these reports or the frequency of the events, but I question the use of these accounts as a way to demonstrate that colonialism was detrimental to women because they lost this type of power, which in my understanding, is of the same nature as that used by men to control women. I believe colonialism was detrimental to both men and women, because they lost the control over how their ways of life would evolve, and were submitted to exploitative relations in their articulation with the colonizers. Frequently feminists have stated that the aim of advocating for equitable social gender relations is to empower women so that they can have as much power, or human potential, or opportunities as men can. “I wish to see genuine change come about, the emergence of a social and cultural order in which as much of the range of human potential is open to women as is open to men” (Ortner 1996:21). Okin (1999) also advocates that women should be recognized as having human dignity equally with men, and enjoy prospects to live as fulfilling and as freely chosen lives as men can. In my fieldwork and elsewhere I have observed that not all men are either entitled to human by Bourdieu.

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347 dignity or can live fulfilling and freely chosen lives. In addition, because I see both men and women immersed in socially constructed systems which prescribe men’s domination of women, and, in seeing men opting for this prescription, I cannot see men’s dignity as desirable human dignity. If we reject the theory of gender relations determined by a “state of nature,” we cannot assume that men are dominant by “nature,” and we must agree that the social systems in which we live are not allowing enough opportunities to live fulfilling or freely chosen lives, since domination does not fit in these ideals. I hope that women will live fulfilling and freely chosen lives, but this aspiration is not comparable to what I have observed in men’s lives. I hope that men and women in the Mearim valley can live their gender in freely chosen ways of life, but this aspiration cannot be fulfilled by how gender relations have been lived in the capitalist ways of life. In the beginning of my dissertation, I was trying to scrutinize the discourses that formed “gender” as the object of my research, trying to identify the inventions that were not present in the object itself. During my fieldwork and dissertation writing, I learned to examine discourses and practices, and analyzing them, I found multiple forms of gender relations that have been intertwined with the complex general history of the Mearim valley. This general history included gender relations among the masters and the capitalists, among slaves and free workers, blacks, whites, and multi-colored, multi-ethnic immigrants, “inextricably involved with other aggregates, near and far, in web-like, netlike connections” (Lesser 1961:42). I learned that my own gender was involved in such a general history. By the end of this dissertation, I learned that I myself

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348 need to be empowered and to get rid of the discourses that have constrained my gender into dominant ways of life. This empowerment, which I aspire for the women in the Mearim valley and myself, is surely not that authorized and conceded by the gender and development discourses enunciated by the Leviathans of Development. This empowerment is not automatically defined by the positions that one gets in this field so dominantly marked by development. It comes neither from the “underdeveloped” side of the articulation, for having been a practitioner at ASSEMA and a fieldworker in Monte Alegre, nor from the “developed” experiences as a student at UF and as a researcher for CIFOR, USAID or IDRC. Like the method of Artemidoro, the matter is not so much where you are in the social space demarcated by development, but the relations and articulations you engage in, from wherever you are. Therefore, my learning journey throughout the Mearim valley did not end as I left my fieldwork, but has continued in American lands. Surely, although in absolutely different ways, taking classes and writing a dissertation in the U.S. turned out to be as meaningful an experience as participating in social movements and writing projects in the Mearim valley. Very much like I observed how the ways of life based on trabalho livre have been continuously challenged, so I have watched, with all the limitations of an outsider, how the famous American way of life, based on capitalist “free labor,” is changing. As a Newsweek economist once stated, a true “social movement” is observed in the U.S. toward the allocation of capital in the stock markets, not only by the tycoons of corporate America, but also by the “girl next door,” an increasingly younger one. Instead of cookies, grandmothers are sending stock

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349 shares to the little ones, even before the “girl next door” is old enough to have a snack in a kindergarten. In a Weberian “evolution of the capitalist spirit” (Weber 1958), from an ascetic Protestant ethic of work, it seems that even “rational labor” is no longer necessary for the ways of life of some of these growing men and women. A good bet and capital are the choices to assure trajectories leading to the heavens on earth, because specific articulations are set with men and women living subordinated forms of labor, through the so-called globalization. These choices, placed in the global market, connect them not only to sweatshop laborers in Bali, but also to much closer and, yet, equally made invisible trajectories and forms of living gender. Invisible trajectories like that of a single African-American mother I once met, exchanging food stamps at Wal-Mart, at 3 o’clock in the morning. These choices also connect them to the trajectories of farmers I saw buying their Christmas gifts at Goodwill, a few blocks from my apartment on campus. As we all go through those loci of dispersion of points of choice, the powerlessness of our own gender relations emerges from our losing the sight of those invisibilities that form our ways of life. In the first years in the U.S., trying to adapt myself to the material and symbolic realms of life in an American university, I was so sad and alienated from my own Self that I went to a psychotherapist. Sessions later, I was sent to a psychiatrist. “Do you see things that nobody else sees? Do you hear voices that nobody else hears?” Well, not quite yet. But, in this learning journey of mine, integrating the Mearim valley with these American lands, I must say that I begin to believe in the power of knowledge of “someone who could see the invisible.” I came to believe that, knowing about and finding

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350 our places in the multi-faceted general history that has been made invisible by the national and global total history, form the power of knowledge that will push us to new grounds of articulated political battles. So, I hope, I really hope that, as insignificant as these thoughts of mine are, if you look carefully, you may find for yourself, in the course of what I have said, what gender relations in the Mearim valley mean to you.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Noemi Sakiara Miyasaka Porro, granddaughter of Japanese migrant peasants, was born on June 17, 1961, in Campinas, state of So Paulo, Brazil. She was educated at the Universidade de So Paulo, where she met her husband, a descendant of Italian migrants. Once they graduated as agricultural engineers, both moved to the Mearim valley in the state of Maranho, in the Brazilian Amazonia, where they lived for 9 years, raising their two children and working with peasants in agrarian conflict and postconflict situations. Noemi worked as a development project manager in grassroots organizations such as a school for young peasants, agro-extractive cooperatives, rural workers’ associations and unions, women’s groups and the “Interestate Movement of the Babau Breaker Women.” In 1995, her family left for Gainesville, Florida, where she studied Tropical Conservation and Development at the Center for Latin American Studies. After completing her masters’ program, Noemi pursued a doctorate in Anthropology, also at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Her research involves gender relations among peasants in the Eastern Amazon. 364