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Constellations of Inequality

Space, Race, and Utopia in Brazil

Sean T. Mitchell

Constellations of Inequality

Sean T. Mitchell

272 pages | 17 halftones, 1 map | 6 x 9 | © 2018
Paper $30.00 ISBN: 9780226499260 Published December 2017
Cloth $90.00 ISBN: 9780226499123 Published December 2017
E-book $30.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226499437 Published December 2017
In 1982, the Brazilian Air Force arrived on the Alcântara peninsula to build a state-of-the-art satellite launch facility. They displaced some 1,500 Afro-Brazilians from coastal land to inadequate inland villages, leaving many more threatened with displacement. Completed in 1990, this vast undertaking in one of Brazil’s poorest regions has provoked decades of conflict and controversy.
 
Constellations of Inequality tells this story of technological aspiration and the stark dynamics of inequality it laid bare. Sean T. Mitchell analyzes conflicts over land, ethnoracial identity, mobilization among descendants of escaped slaves, military-civilian competition in the launch program, and international intrigue. Throughout, he illuminates Brazil’s changing politics of inequality and examines how such inequality is made, reproduced, and challenged. How people conceptualize and act on the unequal conditions in which they find themselves, he shows, is as much a cultural and historical matter as a material one. Deftly broadening our understanding of race, technology, development, and political consciousness on local, national, and global levels, Constellations of Inequality paints a portrait of contemporary Brazil that will interest a broad spectrum of readers. 
Contents
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Relaunching Alcântara
1 Mimetic Convergence and Complementary Hierarchy
2 Alcântara in Space and Time
3 Interpreting an Explosion
4 Expertise and Inequality
5 Racialization and Race-Based Law
6 The Making of Race and Class
7 Space at the Edge of the Amazon
Conclusion: Space and Utopia
Chronology
Abbreviations
Notes
Works Cited
Index
Review Quotes
Jean Comaroff, coauthor of The Truth about Crime: Sovereignty, Knowledge, Social Order
“Mitchell offers a compelling account of the changing face of inequality in Brazil set against the intriguing story of the state’s quixotic effort to launch a space program at the end of the Cold War. The social impasses that followed—between development and exploitation, public and private enterprise, class and race-based struggle—capture, in microcosm, an unfolding national history. They inform an especially acute analysis of the ways in which inequality is made, redressed, and remade, here and everywhere else.”
Antônio Sérgio Alfredo Guimarães, University of São Paulo
“Mitchell's study of political mobilization in Alcântara is indispensable reading for both students and specialists.  In it he depicts with great historical and regional depth the ethnic, racial, and national mobilization in northern Brazil by agents as diverse as anthropologists, activists, and local authorities.  Both analytical and descriptive, his book provides material for reflection about the dilemmas of social inequality Brazilians still encounter today and the widespread dreams and solutions to resolve them. Required reading.”
John F. Collins, author of Revolt of the Saints
“Mitchell’s wide-ranging but rich and sensitive ethnography dazzles, due in no small part to the author’s deft shifts in scale that make clear how race and inequality came together in novel and unsettling ways in Brazil of the Lula years.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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