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Brandeis University

Publication Date

Spring 2009

Program Name

Brazil: Culture, Development, and Social Justice


This paper uses ethnographic methods, including semi-formal, semi-structured interviews, but especially participant observation and informal conversation, to attempt to understand the realities of the coastal population of the Municipality of Trairí, Ceará, Brazil, as the traditional fishing communities of Guajiru, Fleixeiras, and Emboacca react to international and national economic policies, tourism, and land speculation that are enacted through the lens of neoliberalism. This study corroborates the statements of community members as they relate their ideas about the present conditions of pescadors artesanais as they deal with increasing and ever-changing government policies that regulate and limit their craft, a lobster population on the brink of collapse, and the everyday necessity of back-breaking physical labor, against the competition of poachers and frauds who unlawfully collect the government security that many depend on during the months of December through May, when taking lobster is prohibited in an attempt to bolster the stock. The varied feelings of many community members regarding the institutions of tourism as they are now in the area is also evaluated, but this study also endeavors to appreciate the visions of the future in coastal Trairí, as they are perceived by local inhabitants, with relation to the possibilities of environmental conservation and sustainable development. It is found that for environmental conservation and sustainable development to be viable possibilities, there must be a shift in the paradigms used to conceptualize the worth of the individuals and the resources of coastal Trairí.


Anthropology | Public Policy | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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