Technocrats and the Politics of Drought and Development in Twentieth-Century Brazil

UNC Press Books
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Eve E. Buckley's study of twentieth-century Brazil examines the nation's hard social realities through the history of science, focusing on the use of technology and engineering as vexed instruments of reform and economic development. Nowhere was the tension between technocratic optimism and entrenched inequality more evident than in the drought-ridden Northeast sertao, plagued by chronic poverty, recurrent famine, and mass migrations. Buckley reveals how the physicians, engineers, agronomists, and mid-level technocrats working for federal agencies to combat drought were pressured by politicians to seek out a technological magic bullet that would both end poverty and obviate the need for land redistribution to redress long-standing injustices.

Scientists planned and oversaw huge projects including dam construction, irrigation for small farmers, and public health initiatives. They were, Buckley shows, sincerely determined to solve the drought crisis and improve the lot of poor people in the sertao. Over time, however, they came to the frustrating realization that, despite technology's tantalizing promise of an apolitical means to end poverty, political collisions among competing stakeholders were inevitable. Buckley's revelations about technocratic hubris, the unexpected consequences of environmental engineering, and constraints on scientists as agents of social change resonate with today's hopes that science and technology can solve society's most pressing dilemmas, including climate change.

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About the author

Eve E. Buckley is associate professor of history at the University of Delaware.

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Additional Information

Publisher
UNC Press Books
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Published on
Jul 28, 2017
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Pages
298
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ISBN
9781469634319
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Latin America / South America
Science / Environmental Science
Social Science / Developing & Emerging Countries
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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How come Africa is so underdeveloped when it is one of the richest continents on earth? Indeed, Africa is a paradox: it is poor and rich at the same time!  Resource-wise, Africa is among the top richest continents in the world, yet development-wise it is the poorest of all continents. This paradox desperately needs comprehensive theoretical unpacking and rethinking if Africa is to achieve breakthroughs to the multifaceted development-related problems that have haunted it since the beginning of its unequal encounters with Europe. Regrettably, current Eurocentric development theories fall short on several fronts. The need for a comprehensive body of knowledge –theories and models – from the perspective of Africans persists in urgency.

The present volume is an attempt to theorise Africa’s [under-]development with a view to provide a sustainable enduring framework of operations that will arrest the elusive predicament of the continent while taking it forward from its current position of passivity. It rethinks and re-imagines a number of externally imposed problematic mechanisms used (un-)consciously in Africa, with the intention to raise awareness and foster critical thinking in scholars and scholarship on African development. With its predicament-oriented theorising, the book is a pacesetter on how to think and research Africa’s [under-]development. It is also an invaluable asset for social scientists, policy makers, development practitioners, civil society activists and politicians.

First published in 1998, this book provides a broad but in-depth description of the issues, concepts, methods of analysis, and empirical results related to the sustainable development of agriculture and rural communities. Specifically, it examines the relationships between sustainability and individual topics such as technology, information, population, gender, land use, community, and public policy. A unique aspect of this book is that the topics addressed have not previously been explored together in one publication. With sustainability as the common link, data and evidence are presented and then interpreted in light of individual perspective and experience, in the process advancing our knowledge of this important field. The book comprises of 12 chapters written by prominent authors who come from government and non-government organizations as well as from various academic institutions and disciplines.

This book is ideal for a seminar course. It is particularly intended for students in production agriculture, rural sociology, economics and public policy, environmental sciences, geography and land use planning, and other social sciences. Its rich insights make it a useful source of information for policy makers. It can also be used as a reference by professional economists and other researchers interested in issues relating to sustainable agricultural and rural development. While the coverage of some topics is, by necessity, more technical, the book is compiled with a general audience in mind. Thus, it should be of interest to anyone concerned with agriculture, natural resources and rural issues, particularly as they relate to the future of agriculture and of rural communities.

Some 600 million children worldwide do not legally exist. Without verifiable identification, they—and unregistered adults—could face serious difficulties in proving their identity, whether to open a bank account, purchase a SIM card, or cast a vote. Lack of identification is a barrier to full economic and social inclusion.

Recent advances in the reach and technological sophistication of identification systems have been nothing less than revolutionary. Since 2000, over 60 developing countries have established national ID programs. Digital technology, particularly biometrics such as fingerprints and iris scans, has dramatically expanded the capabilities of these programs. Individuals can now be uniquely identified and reliably authenticated against their claimed identities. By enabling governments to work more effectively and transparently, identification is becoming a tool for accelerating development progress. Not only is provision of legal identity for all a target under the Sustainable Development Goals, but this book shows how it is also central to achieving numerous other SDG targets.

Yet, challenges remain. Identification systems can fail to include the poor, leaving them still unable to exercise their rights, access essential services, or fully participate in political and economic life. The possible erosion of privacy and the misuse of personal data, especially in countries that lack data privacy laws or the capacity to enforce them, is another challenge. Yet another is ensuring that investments in identification systems deliver a development payoff. There are all too many examples where large expenditures—sometimes supported by donor governments or agencies—appear to have had little impact.

Identification Revolution: Can Digital ID be Harnessed for Development? offers a balanced perspective on this new area, covering both the benefits and the risks of the identification revolution, as well as pinpointing opportunities to mitigate those risks.

The #1 New York Times bestseller and the true story behind the film: A rugby team resorts to the unthinkable after a plane crash in the Andes.

Spirits were high when the Fairchild F-227 took off from Mendoza, Argentina, and headed for Santiago, Chile. On board were forty-five people, including an amateur rugby team from Uruguay and their friends and family. The skies were clear that Friday, October 13, 1972, and at 3:30 p.m., the Fairchild’s pilot reported their altitude at 15,000 feet. But one minute later, the Santiago control tower lost all contact with the aircraft. For eight days, Chileans, Uruguayans, and Argentinians searched for it, but snowfall in the Andes had been heavy, and the odds of locating any wreckage were slim.
 
Ten weeks later, a Chilean peasant in a remote valley noticed two haggard men desperately gesticulating to him from across a river. He threw them a pen and paper, and the note they tossed back read: “I come from a plane that fell in the mountains . . .”
 
Sixteen of the original forty-five passengers on the F-227 survived its horrific crash. In the remote glacial wilderness, they camped in the plane’s fuselage, where they faced freezing temperatures, life-threatening injuries, an avalanche, and imminent starvation. As their meager food supplies ran out, and after they heard on a patched-together radio that the search parties had been called off, it seemed like all hope was lost. To save their own lives, these men and women not only had to keep their faith, they had to make an impossible decision: Should they eat the flesh of their dead friends?
 
A remarkable story of endurance and determination, friendship and the human spirit, Alive is the dramatic bestselling account of one of the most harrowing quests for survival in modern times.
 
The epic story of the fall of the Inca Empire to Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in the aftermath of a bloody civil war, and the recent discovery of the lost guerrilla capital of the Incas, Vilcabamba, by three American explorers.

In 1532, the fifty-four-year-old Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro led a force of 167 men, including his four brothers, to the shores of Peru. Unbeknownst to the Spaniards, the Inca rulers of Peru had just fought a bloody civil war in which the emperor Atahualpa had defeated his brother Huascar. Pizarro and his men soon clashed with Atahualpa and a huge force of Inca warriors at the Battle of Cajamarca. Despite being outnumbered by more than two hundred to one, the Spaniards prevailed—due largely to their horses, their steel armor and swords, and their tactic of surprise. They captured and imprisoned Atahualpa. Although the Inca emperor paid an enormous ransom in gold, the Spaniards executed him anyway. The following year, the Spaniards seized the Inca capital of Cuzco, completing their conquest of the largest native empire the New World has ever known. Peru was now a Spanish colony, and the conquistadors were wealthy beyond their wildest dreams.

But the Incas did not submit willingly. A young Inca emperor, the brother of Atahualpa, soon led a massive rebellion against the Spaniards, inflicting heavy casualties and nearly wiping out the conquerors. Eventually, however, Pizarro and his men forced the emperor to abandon the Andes and flee to the Amazon. There, he established a hidden capital, called Vilcabamba—only recently rediscovered by a trio of colorful American explorers. Although the Incas fought a deadly, thirty-six-year-long guerrilla war, the Spanish ultimately captured the last Inca emperor and vanquished the native resistance.
When the San José mine collapsed outside of Copiapó, Chile, in August 2010, it trapped thirty-three miners beneath thousands of feet of rock for a record-breaking sixty-nine days. The entire world watched what transpired above-ground during the grueling and protracted rescue, but the saga of the miners' experiences below the Earth's surface—and the lives that led them there—has never been heard until now.

For Deep Down Dark, the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Héctor Tobar received exclusive access to the miners and their tales. These thirty-three men came to think of the mine, a cavern inflicting constant and thundering aural torment, as a kind of coffin, and as a church where they sought redemption through prayer. Even while still buried, they all agreed that if by some miracle any of them escaped alive, they would share their story only collectively. Héctor Tobar was the person they chose to hear, and now to tell, that story.

The result is a masterwork or narrative journalism—a riveting, at times shocking, emotionally textured account of a singular human event. A New York Times bestseller, Deep Down Dark brings to haunting, tactile life the experience of being imprisoned inside a mountain of stone, the horror of being slowly consumed by hunger, and the spiritual and mystical elements that surrounded working in such a dangerous place. In its stirring final chapters, it captures the profound way in which the lives of everyone involved in the disaster were forever changed.

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