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Carved lives on the reverse of history: gender and ethnic-racial relations in the context of rural labor migration

Grant number: 18/14071-0
Support type:Regular Research Grants - Publications - Books published in Brazil
Duration: October 01, 2018 - September 30, 2019
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Sociology - Rural Sociology
Principal Investigator:Maria Aparecida de Moraes Silva
Grantee:Maria Aparecida de Moraes Silva
Home Institution: Centro de Educação e Ciências Humanas (CECH). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:12/23959-9 - Mapping and analysis of territory of sugarcane agrohidrobusiness in the Pontal do Paranapanema region - São Paulo State - Brazil labor relations, conflict and land and water use and environmental health, AP.BIOEN.TEM


The collection, "Carved lives on the reverse of history. Gender and ethnic-racial relations in the context of rural labor migration", brings together research developed in various times and social spaces. The articles in this collection aim to contribute to fill two gaps. The first one refers to the fact that studies of work in the contemporary world, in general, refer to the urban world. The second gap refers to the academic production of rural studies, which in the last decades, mainly in Brazil, have focused on issues related to land occupations, social movements, conflicts and violence in the countryside, family agriculture, among others. During the period of the military dictatorship, the researches of rural sociology - in addition to the questions related to the advance of the agricultural frontier, responsible for the expropriation of thousands of peasants and for the increase of violence -, they put on the scene the then, denominated, rural proletarian. These workers were the former residents, expelled from the farms or their lands and went to live in the cities. Not having a qualification for urban jobs, apart from the fact that many of them were illiterate, they were employed as temporary employees according to the needs of agricultural production.The state of São Paulo was the flagship of the transformation of the way of producing, through the emergence of new products, the constitution of large agroindustrial complexes and the change of social relations of production. From this period iniciated the emergence of large sugar cane mills and orange juice processors. There was the mobility of capital invested in this agriculture, through the concentration of land ownership and labor force mobility. There has been an increase in migrations, through the arrival of hundreds of thousands of people from the northeastern states and the Jequitinhonha Valley of Minas Gerais. It was a permanently temporary migration, characterized by the movement of hundreds of thousands of men, mostly women, to work on the main crops of sugarcane, orange and coffee. The activity that most required labor was the harvest of sugarcane. From 1960 until the year 2017, the modus operandi was by burning the straw before manual cutting. However, due to the environmental problems caused by burnt sugarcane soot, in addition to the high productivity rates imposed, which supposedly resulted in the death of dozens of workers, there was a gradual increase in the mechanization of cutting.In addition to the state of São Paulo, largest producer of sugar and ethanol in the country, with six million hectares of land occupied with sugarcane, the state of Alagoas stands out in the northeast. Regarding social relations of work, these two states present many similarities, characterized by the forms of payment, the superexploration and also the concentration of capitals. However, Alagoas presents singularities related to the origin of the migrants, the climatic conditions and the relief.This is the social context that originated this collection. The guiding thread of the theoretical lines of the articles is the centrality of work, understood as a social process, involving the relations between capital and labor and their consequences, especially for the workers' bodies. Work is not seen as an abstract category, but in the concreteness of those who work. Concrete produced in the process of expropriation, superexploration and disposal. They are three moments of the perverse dialectic that sustains the grandeur of this production. "Carved lives on the reverse of history" is the result of investigations that aimed to brush this story against the grain in the Benjaminian terms. Lives of women, men, blacks, mestizos who, in the sugarcane plantations of Alagoas and São Paulo, carved the sugar cane and, at the same time, their lives. It is a book that tells another story, the history / averse of the world of commodities. (AU)