Home Institution

University of Pittsburgh

Publication Date

Fall 2011

Program Name

Brazil: Amazon Resource Management and Human Ecology


After 28 years of fighting for agrarian reform, social justice, and sustainable agriculture, Brazil’s Landless Worker’s Movement (MST) is facing new challenge, one of which is how to retain maturing sem terrinhas, children of land recipients, in the rural settlements and in the movement. The southern region of the Amazonian state of Pará, where this study takes place, is a violent area badly in need of agrarian reform and sustainable development. At the same time, it has some of the highest levels of rural youth outmigration yet virtually no literature on the MST youth there. Through interviews conducted with youth ages 17-25 in two MST settlements, the study addresses factors affecting settlement youth involvement in the MST, specifically the issues of outmigration and activism. The results are promising for the movement, suggesting that youth involvement is high and that they share the same overarching political goals as the MST. There is a high level of satisfaction with settlement life, indicating the corruptive effects of foreign media are not as severe as the literature suggests and that the movement’s efforts to valorize rural life have been successful. Unfortunately a critical lack of education and employment are giving youth little option but to leave for cities; however, the movement has reason to believe that a more investment in the settlements will have a positive effect on youth retention and on the agrarian reform movement as a whole.


Civic and Community Engagement | Family, Life Course, and Society | Inequality and Stratification | Rural Sociology