Afro-Brazilian Resistance to Extractivism in the Bay of Aratu

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Abstract

This article analyzes environmental governance and black geographies to explore the connections between Brazil’s erstwhile populist government and President Michel Temer’s conservative administration. Although on the surface Temer’s austere approach appears to put him at fundamental odds with the Workers’ Party’s populist emphasis on social welfare and wealth redistribution, this article argues that Brazilian populism and conservatism contain striking similarities vis-à-vis the environment and racialized violence. I examine the ways in which natural resource extraction was a central component of governance under the Workers’ Party and persists under Temer. By analyzing the struggles of three black communities in the state of Bahia, I draw particular attention to the ways in which a reliance on extractivism contributes to racialized landscapes, because these communities’ autonomous territories remain grievously threatened. This article points out that the environmental tendencies of the new conservative government are not novel so much as they are a fulfillment of a trend propagated under the auspices of populism. This is not, however, the final word on the topic, because affected communities resist the environmental effects of extractive industry. Although extractive measures remain central to Brazilian governance, social movements like those in Bahia nonetheless enact a politics and counternotion of the environment that establish alternative ways of life. Key Words: black geographies, Brazil, environmental racism, Workers’ Party.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)492-501
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of the American Association of Geographers
Volume109
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 4 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 by American Association of Geographers.

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