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.
Sean T. Mitchell is assistant professor of anthropology at Rutgers University-Newark.
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