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Hidden Treasures: Reconnecting Culture and Nature in Rural Development Dynamics

Constructing a New Framework for Rural Development

ISBN: 978-1-78441-622-5, eISBN: 978-1-78441-621-8

ISSN: 1057-1922

Publication date: 9 March 2015


Fighting the drought. Based on this idea, for almost two centuries now the Brazilian State has elaborated policies and programmes intended to stimulate rural development in the semiarid region of the country. It is this idea which has nourished the illusion that immense infrastructures need to be built to capture, store and transport large volumes of water in order to supply production activities in the region. Associated with this proposal is the attempt to reproduce the same pattern of development adopted in other Brazilian biomes, the main characteristic of which is the use of monoculture practices on large properties managed according to entrepreneurial modes of production. However the rich social experience promoted by rural worker organizations in the region has challenged this model by proposing living with the semiarid (Convivência com o Semiárido) as the guiding principle for alternative trajectories of development. Inspired by the experience of territorial development under way in the Agreste da Borborema region of Paraíba state, the chapter shows that the evolution of these new paths of development depends on revitalizing and mobilizing locally available resources, such as ecological potentials, social mechanisms for organizing labour and for producing and sharing knowledge, local forms of connecting food production to consumption and so on. The text concludes by emphasizing the need to design and implant institutional frameworks that enable a more balanced distribution of power between the State and civil society organizations, thereby allowing the latter to assume a more substantial role in identifying and managing endogenous resources that underpin self-centred development strategies.




My thanks to Jan Douwe van der Ploeg for collaborating in the development of the section ‘A New Confrontation’.


Petersen, P.F. (2015), "Hidden Treasures: Reconnecting Culture and Nature in Rural Development Dynamics", Constructing a New Framework for Rural Development (Research in Rural Sociology and Development, Vol. 22), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 157-194.



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