In 2003, citizens of the Serra do Brigadeiro region of Minas Gerais, Brazil learned of large-scale bauxite mining plans for their land, which have the potential to produce up to US $2 billion. This project, designed without the input of the community, conflicts with a culture of small farming, coffee exportation, and a growing environmental movement based on alternative agriculture and the preservation of the endangered Atlantic Forest. A core group of advocates and farmers quickly demonstrated their resistance to these mining plans. I joined them by engaging in action research based on the question: How has anti-mining advocacy contributed to a more sustainable future for the land and cultural livelihoods of small farmers in Minas Gerais? I collected data through process observation, interviews and material culture. The research concluded that the core advocacy group, or “mining commission,” has successfully demonstrated their resistance to bauxite mining using strategies of confrontation or conflict. Directly as a result of advocacy efforts, the mining plans for the Serra do Brigadeiro are on hold. However, this is a new advocacy effort and the future is uncertain. This research also discusses strategies of collaboration and internal empowerment, which may be applied to the mining commission’s work in the future. The results of this capstone will be presented back to the mining commission to facilitate strategy building and inspire a stronger and more powerful resistance. Regardless of whether bauxite mining occurs in the Serra do Brigadeiro, the advocacy movement has already contributed to a more sustainable community in Minas Gerais by emphasizing participation, empowering farmers to speak up, and prioritizing social and environmental justice over economic development.


Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Social Welfare