The territorial web: Personal belonging, mobility and work in contemporary Brazil

The territorial web: Personal belonging, mobility and work in contemporary Brazil

This project aims to develop the relation between work (formal, informal; salaried, domestic; rural, urban; traditional, modern; migrant, local; etc.) and territorial inscription (belonging, ownership, property, heritage, etc.) in terms of human mobility. In following people's movements across a variety of settings, we aim to show how territory is part of processes of personal constitution, creating what we call "territorial webs".

Our aim is precisely to explore how the same people take recourse to the different environments in succession and alternation. Access to land and use of territory are central aspects in people's work related activities both in the cities and the countryside. In Brazil, legal property of land is often blurred and people's use of the territory where they both work and live is often inserted into a complex network of social relations and environmental factors that ensure the sustainability of use. We are concerned with understanding the integration between legal and informal types of access and ownership of land and resources (both natural resources such as mangrove, water systems, forested spaces, use of trails and different accesses, etc.; but also social networks, often based on credit, support or patronage).

 

Estatuto: 
Proponent entity
Financed: 
No
Entidades: 
Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia
Rede: 
A trama territorial
Keywords: 

Territory, Work, Mobility, Brazil

This project aims to develop the relation between work (formal, informal; salaried, domestic; rural, urban; traditional, modern; migrant, local; etc.) and territorial inscription (belonging, ownership, property, heritage, etc.) in terms of human mobility. In following people's movements across a variety of settings, we aim to show how territory is part of processes of personal constitution, creating what we call "territorial webs".

Our aim is precisely to explore how the same people take recourse to the different environments in succession and alternation. Access to land and use of territory are central aspects in people's work related activities both in the cities and the countryside. In Brazil, legal property of land is often blurred and people's use of the territory where they both work and live is often inserted into a complex network of social relations and environmental factors that ensure the sustainability of use. We are concerned with understanding the integration between legal and informal types of access and ownership of land and resources (both natural resources such as mangrove, water systems, forested spaces, use of trails and different accesses, etc.; but also social networks, often based on credit, support or patronage).

 

Objectivos: 
The project will focus on different regional settings in Brazil, with the purpose of providing a comparative outlook, thus breaking through the categories that have traditionally compartimentalized social scientific research, such as rural/urban, local/migrant, indigenous/regional, etc. We do not aim at representativeness but rather at a deepening of the theoretical concerns. The approach will be ethnographic and qualitative, based on prolonged personal observation and archival research. We have chosen the different settings taking into consideration previous research experience so as to maximize the possibility of deepening our theoretical understanding of the relation between work and territorial mobility.<br />Whilst focusing on populations with low income, the project does not see itself as studying either urban or rural, either national or international contexts.
State of the art: 
Our project results from the bringing together of a set of already consolidated research experiences concerning personhood and territorial relations. In particular, work by Susana de Matos Viegas among the Tupinamb&aacute; of Oliven&ccedil;a on kinship, gender and territory (Bahia - Viegas 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008); by Pina-Cabral on personhood and naming in Bahia (Pina-Cabral 2005, 2007, 2008 and Pina-Cabral and Viegas 2007); by Emilia Pietrafesa de Godoi in Piau&iacute; on rural relations and gender (Godoi e Nymeyer 1998; Godoi 1999, 2001); and, finally, by Vanda Aparecida da Silva on rural life and youth in the lower valley of the Jequitinhonha (MG, Brazil - 2008). Attitudes to work "are becoming an increasingly relevant topic of research in terms of the human mobility that the present global crisis is bringing to the fore" (Antunes e Alves 2004, Hirata e Kergoat 2007). Brazilian sociologists have argued that, "When we examine the reality of today's work situations we must recognize that we are facing transformations that require a revision of concepts, a constitution of new alternatives and considerable sociological imagination. It seems difficult to formulate alternatives on the basis of past models."; (Larangeira 2004: 16) We aim to relate work with territorial mobility and access to resources as previous research experience suggested that a multidimensional approach must be adopted. On the one hand, one must take into consideration how natural resources relate to social networks based on kinship, work and local belonging (M. Harris 2000; Olivia Harris 2000); on the other hand, one must overcome the dichotomization implicit in categories such as urban/rural, indigenous/mixed blood, land as politics/land as living (S. Nugent and M. Harris 2004). The relation between household and work has a long tradition in Brazilian rural studies and needs to be reconsidered in the light of new developments (e.g. Palmeira 1977). From the point of view of land as lived experience, in which emotions and politics interfere upon each other, anthropological approaches to territorial belonging based on concepts such as &quot;landscape&quot; (Hirsh and O'Hanlon 1995) appear to have limited explanatory value: "the defining aspect of landscape is the distanciation of the viewer from the object viewed" (Leach 2004: 196). One should revise notions of kinship and person by giving a priority to "what kinds of relations people have with, or to, the land itself" (Leach 2004: 29). In this light, Comerford's work on mapping, familiarization and reputation provides an interesting entry into the question (2003). The relationship between ownership, relatedness and the lived experience of place (including economic and sociocultural dimensions) will also studied in terms of how property is legally constructed and informally used. We follow here a suggestion already present in one of the classical monographs of our discipline: "A group of Bemba walking from place to place through their tribal territory view surroundings from an entirely different standpoint from our own. (...) This general attitude of the people towards their environment is important to describe. It expresses the line of their economic interests, and ultimately determines the legal rules by which their land is used."; (Richards 1969 [1939]: 230). The centrality of the relation between mobility and work has been stressed: "mobility becomes important for its meaning in the life history of the people (...) because it is part of their shared understanding of the person, its states of mind and existential conditions."; (Pissolato 2007: 123) Individual biographies are granting increasing importance to a panoply of different types of mobility: regional, national within Brazil and international (cf. Gardner 1995; Ong 1999).
Parceria: 
International networ
Ana Luisa Micaelo
Emilia Pietrafesa de Godoy
Coordenador 
Start Date: 
01/02/2010
End Date: 
01/02/2013
Duração: 
36 meses
Closed