Accepted paper:

Activism in the fight for land in Brazil: gender roles and rural settlements in culturally globalized contexts


Elisete Schwade (UFRN)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the actions of one woman who attempts to establish ideological links between different realities involved in the activism promoted by the Landless Movement (Movimento Sem Terra- MST) in Brazil. The trajectory of this individual will show how masculine and feminine roles are challenged in particular ways, as her trajectory allows us to think about changes in gender relationships within the construction of leadership and sociopolitical activism in a global context.

Paper long abstract:

This paper is related to my research regarding gender identity within the context of rural settlement organizations in Brazil, specifically where the Landless Rural Worker Movement (in Portuguese Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra - MST) is acting as an organizational reference for the struggle to acquire land. In the process of fighting for land, some agents become militant leaders establishing contacts within national and international political spaces, and then play an important role within and outside of the settlement projects, in dialogue with the MST and other organizations. In this process, traditional gender roles are challenged in a context of power relationships. I will pay special attention to one woman who became a fundamental leader in order to keep a political and economic settlement project organization and who is considered a role model by the MST. This woman plays a fundamental role in this project. Inside the settlements, her continuous action foments new ways of thinking about working the land; the division of daily tasks for men and women, and so on. Outside the settlement, this woman has represented the MST in Brazil and in seminars around the world, contributing to the insertion of the MST in global arenas of political activism, with her many years of experience in militancy and a strong religious perspective. This paper presents moments from her life that illustrate how certain aspects, her single status, and strong religious faith, among others, contribute to the development of leadership.

panel G04
Local and global emergence of women's leadership in a changing world (IUAES Commission on the Anthropology of Women)