This summer I will travel to Brazil to study the Landless Workers Movement (O Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra orMST) of Brazil. The movement aims to address poverty and unequal land distribution by helping landless farmers and citizens take direct action in the struggle for agrarian reform. Throughout the country, the MST works to organize groups of landless citizens to squat on “unproductive” land and petition the government for the rights to cultivate the land and build small scale agricultural communities.
The MST movement originated in Southeast Brazil in the late 1970s and early 1980s and has grown to become one of the largest social movements in Brazil, with over a million members active in 23 of the 26 Brazilian states. While the movement is largely rural-based, it is also dependent on urban members and factions that are responsible for managing organizational, financial, and legal aspects of the movement.
In my project, I will investigate the connections between rural and urban-based members and how these “rurban” connections and networks influence the success of the MST in acquiring land and also garnering government support to create rural agricultural communities.