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Constellations of InequalitySpace, Race, and Utopia in Brazil$
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Sean T. Mitchell

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226499123

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226499437.001.0001

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Alcântara in Space and Time

Alcântara in Space and Time

(p.54) Two Alcântara in Space and Time
Constellations of Inequality

Sean T. Mitchell

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 2 extends the arguments of chapter 1 through further ethnographic exposition and through an examination of the history through which free Afro-Brazilian and mixed-race rural communities developed in Alcântara over the nineteenth century, long before Brazil’s abolition of slavery in 1888. This history is a key to understanding the nature of Alcântara’s contemporary conflicts. Additionally, drawing on Trouillot’s analysis of people’s participation “in history both as actors and narrators,” the chapter shows the varied ways the region’s history and contemporary reality is narrated by different actors. Elite accounts describe Alcântara’s nineteenth-century depopulation and decay; the poor, instead, often narrate this period as one of abundance. Among the contemporary protagonists of Alcântara’s conflicts, the chapter shows how Alcântara’s history and contemporary relations are used in conflicting ways to understand Alcântara’s social and political life.

Keywords:   Brazil, Ethnography, Inequality, Race, History, Alcântara, Maranhão, Slavery, Abolition

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