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On the fringes of progress: socioenvironmental effects of sugarcane production in the states of Alagoas and São Paulo


This project represents the consolidation and articulation of a collective research effort on the social and environmental consequences of the sugar-alcohol sector in the states of São Paulo and Alagoas in a new context of relations. We start from the hypothesis that a series of recent changes in the productive dynamics and in the public management of labour, the agrarian issue and the environmental issue point to significant impacts on the reproduction of capital and labour in the two states, which increase the vulnerability of the population living/working in the countryside (rural wage earners and peasants). Among these changes, we highlight the advance of mechanization, the Labor and Welfare Reforms, the regression in the policy of land regularization, the cuts in public policies to support family agriculture, the liberation of hundreds of agrochemicals and the increase in fires, a product of the flexibilization of environmental inspection. Therefore, we aim to investigate the dynamics and effects of these changes in two of the main regions of the sugar-alcohol sector in the states of Alagoas and São Paulo, the zone of the Alagoas forest (eastern region) and the administration region of Ribeirão Preto (central-eastern region), which stand out as spaces significantly appropriate and transformed by capitalist logic. Above all, we will observe the consequences of the socio-environmental effects produced by sugarcane agribusiness for working conditions and employability, for the health of the rural population and for the social reproduction of peasants and rural wage workers, also paying attention to the issue of gender. The comparative analysis will allow us to evaluate the diversity of the phenomena found, as well as their possible similarities. We have chosen for this research the qualitative methodology, complemented with the analysis of secondary data from different information agencies and management institutions (IBGE, IPEA, DIEESE, Environment Secretariats, River Basin Committees, among others). Anchored in the principles of Oral History, we intend to conduct semi-structured script interviews with different subjects of the analyzed scenarios, seeking to value the experience as a means to produce intelligibility on the proposed theme. We will also produce photographs and records of empirical observations in field diaries. We will also rely on the Nordic Musculosketel Questionnaire (NMQ) to identify vulnerabilities on the body (osteoarticular disorders) that can be produced by the organization of work in sugarcane production. The analysis of empirical data will support the development of scientific articles - with publication in journals and exhibition in congresses, a collection book and a documentary video on the research. Thus, we seek to strengthen the academic contribution between UFAL and UFSCar, specifically in the areas of Labor Studies, Rural and Environmental Studies. (AU)

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