In 1982, the Brazilian Air Force arrived on the Alcantara peninsula to build a state-of-the-art satellite launch facility. They displaced some 1,500 Afro-Brazilians from coastal land to inadequate inland villages, leaving many more threatened with displacement. The project was a vast undertaking, and the decades since its 1990 completion have seen it mired in controversy. Constellations of Inequality tells that story, offering a uniquely insightful ethnography of Brazil's inequality politics. Sean T. Mitchell analyzes conflicts over land, ethnoracial identity, mobilization among descendants of escaped slaves, failures and military-civilian conflict in the launch program, and international intrigue. Throughout, he illuminates inequality and political consciousness. How people conceptualize and act upon the unequal conditions in which they find themselves, he shows, is as much a cultural and historical matter a material one.
Deftly broadening our understanding of STS, economic issues, and consciousness on local, national, and global levels, Constellations of Inequality paints a portrait of struggles over race, technology, development, and inequality that will interest a broad spectrum of readers.
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Sean T. Mitchell is assistant professor of anthropology at Rutgers University-Newark.
"Mitchell's study of political mobilization in Alc ntara is indispensable reading for both students and specialists. In it he depicts with great historical and regional depth the ethnic, racial, and national mobilization in northern Brazil by agents as diverse as anthropologists, activists, and local authorities. Both analytical and descriptive, his book provides material for reflection about the dilemmas of social inequality Brazilians still encounter today and the widespread dreams and solutions to resolve them. Required reading."--Ant nio S rgio Alfredo Guimar es, University of S o Paulo "Mitchell offers a compelling account of the changing face of inequality in Brazil set against the intriguing story of the state's quixotic effort to launch a space program at the end of the Cold War. The social impasses that followed--between development and exploitation, public and private enterprise, class and race-based struggle--capture, in microcosm, an unfolding national history. They inform an especially acute analysis of the ways in which inequality is made, redressed, and remade, here and everywhere else."--Jean Comaroff, coauthor of The Truth about Crime: Sovereignty, Knowledge, Social Order "Mitchell's wide-ranging but rich and sensitive ethnography dazzles, due in no small part to the author's deft shifts in scale that make clear how race and inequality came together in novel and unsettling ways in Brazil of the Lula years."--John F. Collins, author of Revolt of the Saints
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