Accepted paper:

The "rhythm of the waters": cattle, farmers and environment in the hinterland of Piauí, Brazil


Natacha Leal (UNIVASF/UFSCar)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation intends to describe the ways of dwelling in the hinterland of Piauí, state of Northeast Brazil, from the description of the work of small farmers and the relationship they establish with cattle, environment and the "rhythm of the waters" in a region known by the absence of rainfall and modern technological resources. .

Paper long abstract:

The state of Piauí, in northeastern Brazil, is one of the poorest regions of the world. The climate, the vegetation and even the local customs are marked by the almost complete absence of rains. Due to its long extension and low population, traditionally, the economy of the hinterland of Piauí was based on extensive livestock production. Since the arrival of the first cattle in the seventeenth century by the hands of Portuguese colonizers in Brazil, the same breeding techniques are employed by local farmers. But if during the period of colonization Piauí was the biggest producer of beef in Brazil, nowadays can´t compete with a global and technified cattle raising. Without fences or pastures, livestock in the hinterland of Piauí are traditionally let loose in the fields. The activities of farmers are, fundamentally, marked by the "rhythm of the waters": as herds move during the dry season searching for water and food, cowboys move to hunt them down for slaughter. This presentation intends to analyze how the relationship between farmers, cattle and the "rhythm of the waters" in the hinterland of Piauí developed a way of dwelling in the world that, by resisting the technological innovations, actualizes traditions. Based on ethnography on the work of farmers, it aims to describe knowledge, discourses and practices that produce landscapes, displacements, local economy, specific technologies and even mechanisms to deal with the adversities of the climate and the environment.

panel Rur01
Rural dwellings: various ways of homemaking