SSHA Rural Network Session proposal (November 11-14, Fort Worth, Texas)

Session title: Rural Latin American Responses to Modernization and Change
Type of session: Papers
Network: Rural
Audio-visual needs: VCR

Name: Marc Becker
Role: chair & discussant
Department: Latin American Studies
Institution: Gettysburg College
Address: Gettysburg, PA 17325
Phone: 717-337-6296
Fax: 717-337-6777

Name: Joseph L Callahan
Role: author
Department: Latin America Studies
Institution: University of Arizona
Address: 538 E 2nd Street, Tucson, AZ 85705
Phone: 520-628-7803
Fax: 520-628-7803
E-mail: callahaj@U.Arizona.EDU
Paper title: Alternatives to Violence: Comunidades de Paz in Colombia
Abstract: Alternatives to Violence is a paper about peace development in Colombia at the community level. The thirty-year civil war in Colombia has left over one million displaced Colombians, and tens of thousands dead. The paper addresses two communities, San Jose de Apartad and La India, who when confronted with this violence, opted for peace is the face of guerrillas, paramilitaries and the Colombian army. This paper is based on a two month study in Colombia, in areas where the violence is felt the most. It attempts to explain how these two communities have been able to declare themselves neutral from the civil war and reduce the violence. The paper describes the violent situation before the declarations of peace, and the reduction of violence afterwards. It also addresses the success of these movements using social movement theory and theories of political economy. The history of La Violencia in Colombia is introduced, using the ideas of political economy as a model to explain the rise of competing elite blocks and the ensuing violence. Political economy is then transformed to the countryside to explain specific cases where social movements have been able to reduce the violence with the use of local and international networks.

Name: Cliff Welch
Role: author
Department: History
Institution: Grand Valley State University
Address: Allendale, MI 49401-9401
Phone: 616-895-3414
Fax: 616-895-3285
Paper title: Grass War: Representations of Modernization and Peasant Struggle on the Brazilian Frontier
Abstract: Examines representations of a long 1950s/60s dispute between tenant farmers and landowners in a newly developed region of the state of Sao Paulo. Landowners wanted the tenants to plant grass and leave their farms in order to make way for beef cattle, whose meat was in demand by the growing population of the state's industrializing cities. Places the dispute in the context of past and present land struggle in Brazil. Based on research in contemporary periodicals, oral testimony, and government documents.

Name: Robert Smale
Role: author
Department: History Department
Institution: University of Texas at Austin
Address: 802 S. First St. #111; Austin, TX 78704
Phone: (512) 447-9783
Paper title: Indians to Peasants: The Bolivian Rubber Industry, 1880-1920
Abstract: From the industry's inception in the early 1880s, rubber tapping in the Bolivia Northeast attracted a heterogeneous work force. Wealthy patrons with extensive rubber concessions drew workers from a wide geographic area and from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Christianized Moxos Indians from the tropical plains just south of the rubber district, Quechua and Aymara Indians from the altiplano, mestizo peasants from elsewhere in lowland Bolivia, immigrants from Brazil, and laborers from Asia all traveled to the jungles of the Bolivian Northeast to tap the abundant wild rubber trees. Yet perhaps the most informative segment of the work force for understanding the formation of a peasantry are those autonomous Indian groups already living in the Northeast. Wealthy patrons and their underlings launched a prolonged and devastating campaign to transform these independent Indians into a dependent peasantry. Other historians have discussed both the violence and material inducements patrons used to subjugate the Indians of the Amazon. While my paper explores how these factors played themselves out in the Bolivian Northeast, I also explore the ecological coercion patrons brought to bear on independent Indian groups -- a coercion central to the formation on a new peasantry.

Name: John J. Crocitti
Role: author
Department: Department of History
Institution: University of Miami
Address: History Dept./Univ.of Miami/P.O. Box 248107/Coral Gables, FL 33124-4662
Phone: 305-284-3660
Fax: 305-284-3558
Paper title: Landlords and Tenants in the Wake of Abolition and Ecological Devastation in a Brazilian Coffee County"
Abstract: During the late nineteenth century, the Brazilian coffee growing region known as the Middle Paraíba underwent two critical transformations: the abolition of slavery and the exhaustion of fragile soils. This paper examines how landlords and tenants in one coffee producing county, Barra do Piraí, adjusted to the new circumstances during the half century following abolition. Landlords coped with the demise of coffee culture by converting their property into dairy farms that required many fewer hands than the former plantations. As a result, rural laborers migrated throughout the region in search of work. Since Barra do Piraí was Brazil's largest railroad junction, many laborers ended up in the county after using the railroad as a migratory path. At the same time, rural folk increasingly engaged in non-farm labor both in the countryside, itself, and in the city. This blurred the contrast between country living and agricultural work, on one hand, and city life and artisan or industrial labor, on the other. In addition, they knew how to manipulate town politics to their own advantage within the parameters dictated by Brazil's rigid power structure. Consequently, workers who participated in Brazil's rapid industrialization after 1937 did not innocently enter into modern, urban situations. Instead, they drew upon the experience of kin who had been operating in the gray area between rural and urban work during the previous half century.