“Cash Money and the Politics of Resentment in a Brazilian Peripheral Community: The “Lula Years” and the Arraial do Retiro”
In this paper I follow across nearly three decade the circulation of money, favor, goods, and debt in a working class, peripheral neighborhood. The paper is therefore about survival and different forms of connection, and obligation, among people largely excluded from the cash economy by lack of formal employment and hyperinflation until the late 1990s. I contrast this period prior to the 1995 Plano Real with resultant decades’ influx of money and consumer goods, analyzing consumption and shifting types of connections between neighborhood residents in order to argue that this more direct and intensive incorporation into the market is an important component of the conditions for, and forms of, resentment that have supported the recent rise of authoritarian currents in Brazilian national life.
Since the late 1990s, John Collins has conducted ethnographic and archival research on urban restoration programs and displacement in relation to national histories, racial politics, and conceptions of property and personhood in Brazil. This work generated his first book, Revolt of the Saints: Memory and Redemption in the Twilight of Brazilian 'Racial Democracy' (Duke University Press, 2015). In addition to his ongoing research on urbanism, race, and ethnographic approaches to history and historicity in Latin America, John is currently involved in two new projects. The first, a life history project with three sisters in Salvador, Brazil who represent the first generation in their extended family to be raised entirely in a peripheral urban settlement founded by their grandfather, examines working class understandings of political economic shifts during the tenure of the Brazilian Workers Party (PT, 2003-17). The second, Hunters of the Sourlands, is a somewhat iconoclastic foray into human-animal relations and the politics of property and nature in the contemporary U.S. The project is based on experiences with hunters of white-tail deer, state game officials, and scientists involved in wildlife biology in central New Jersey. Here Collins seeks to understand more clearly how recent economic changes have altered landscapes in ways that affect both national politics and the ecology of North American woodlands. Hunters of the Sourlands articulates closely with his ongoing examination of U.S. imperial politics, which gave rise to Ethnographies of U.S. Empire, a volume co-edited with Carole McGranahan (Duke University Press, 2018).