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The Humanities Conference 2003

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New Geographies of Cultural Resistance

Else R P Vieira.

The potential of Information Technology to foreground the human in scholarship on globalization has been substantially explored in a recently completed website. Over 500 resources, across several media, project the images, voices and forces of the landless rural workers in Brazil. These 16 million people formally organized themselves around a social movement in 1984, the MST _ the Movement of the Landless Rural Workers _ widely perceived to be one of the most active in the world today. The MST has increasingly challenged the expansion of capitalism and the dominant neo-liberal models of globalization for their devastating effects on the more vulnerable economies and on the disadvantaged segments of the labour market. To the extent that the neo-liberal project amplifies the private space, it perversely interacts with Brazil’s recalcitrant colonial legacy of concentration of land and wealth. The fifth largest country in the world is thus land-hungry: a host of rural workers have been deprived of access to the land as a mode of production and subsistence; they have been excluded from all social benefits derived from territorial stability, such as education, health assistance and housing; ever more perniciously, they have been denied participation in democratic life. The methods of protest developed by this oppositional group have shown that exclusion can become a social locus. Crucially, their cultural expressions have sought to transform an identity constructed around a lack _ ‘sem-terra’/landless _ into affirmative collective expressions of a ‘we’. While demonstrating the role of Information Technology in foregrounding spaces and processes of identity reconstruction, this contribution will focus on the more specific class-gender intersection. Women without land, without ‘Kapital’, will be seen introducing their ragged presence in the scene of history, weaving symbolic networks of deprived individuals, and reconstructing their gendered identities while creating new geographies of cultural resistance.


Else R P Vieira  (United Kingdom)
Visiting Professor in Latin American Studies
School of Modern Languages
Queen Mary, University of London

  • Voices
  • Images
  • Militant
  • MST Culture

(Virtual Presentation, English)