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Yale University

Publication Date

Fall 2011

Program Name

Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development


The social movement known as Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST) was founded in 1984 with the intent of agrarian reform in a newly democratic Brazil. The movement arrived in Northeastern Brazil in the late 1980s and successfully organized a group of landless workers in the interior of Ceará on May 25, 1989 to create the first settlement the state had seen. The citizens of Assentamento 25 de Maio, as the settlement was later named, have undergone a unique social transition from circumstances closely resembling forced servitude and latifúndio to liberation. This transition affected the men and women who fought for liberation and who now comprise the elder portion of the communities in the settlement. Specifically, the concept of cidadania—or citizenship—underwent reconstruction as this group of elders transitioned from one social setting into another. More over, the influence from the MST has greatly contributed to the shift in how these elders define cidadania and suggests a change in social identification in the context of a social movement. This paper aims to demonstrate said reconstruction of the term cidadania through the interpretation of observations and interviews conducted with four elders of the community Paus Brancos within the settlement and extensive reflection on the organization and ideologies of the movement MST. In addition, this paper will document the personal narratives of these four elders in order to better understand the experiences that influenced the definition of cidadania and to contribute to a more cohesive, unified understanding of the term.


Civic and Community Engagement | Community-Based Research | Family, Life Course, and Society | Growth and Development | Latin American Studies | Policy History, Theory, and Methods | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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