Winner, Henry A. Wallace Award, The Agricultural History Society , 2018
Brazil has the second-largest cattle herd in the world and is a major exporter of beef. While ranching in the Amazon—and its destructive environmental consequences—receives attention from both the media and scholars, the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul actually host the most cattle. A significant beef producer in Brazil beginning in the late nineteenth century, the region served as a laboratory for raising cattle in the tropics, where temperate zone ranching practices do not work. Mato Grosso ranchers and cowboys transformed ranching’s relationship with the environment, including the introduction of an exotic cattle breed—the Zebu—that now dominates Latin American tropical ranching.
Cattle in the Backlands presents a comprehensive history of ranching in Mato Grosso. Using extensive primary sources, Robert W. Wilcox explores three key aspects: the economic transformation of a remote frontier region through modern technical inputs; the resulting social changes, especially in labor structures and land tenure; and environmental factors, including the long-term impact of ranching on ecosystems, which, he contends, was not as detrimental as might be assumed. Wilcox demonstrates that ranching practices in Mato Grosso set the parameters for tropical beef production in Brazil and throughout Latin America. As the region was incorporated into national and international economic structures, its ranching industry experienced the entry of foreign investment, the introduction of capitalized processing facilities, and nascent discussions of ecological impacts—developments that later affected many sectors of the Brazilian economy.
|Publisher:||University of Texas Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Table of Contents
Selected Timeline for Cattle Ranching in Mato Grosso, 1580s-1980 ix
Preface and Acknowledgments xv
Introduction. The Paradox of Tropical Ranching 1
Chapter 1 Mirror of the Land: Regional Geography and Environmental Imperatives 14
Chapter 2 Establishing Roots: The Ranching Economy to 1914 35
Chapter 3 A Boom of Sorts: The Ranching Economy, 1914-1950 68
Chapter 4 Land Access: Opportunities and Obstacles 100
Chapter 5 Cowboys, Hands, and Native Peoples: Labor Relations 137
Chapter 6 The Dynamics of the Mundane: Everyday Ranching 163
Chapter 7 National Breeds and Hindu Idols 199
Conclusion. Transformation and Continuity 223
What People are Saying About This
"This book fills a large hole in historical scholarship. English-language treatments of ranching history anywhere in Brazil are few and far between. It also makes a strong case for the importance of linking agro-pastoral studies to environmental specificity and to careful consideration of labor practices."
"Ranching is deeply rooted in Latin American societies and cultures, but scholars and the general public often assume that the industry is backward and not a driver of economic transformation. This book undermines that assumption by calling attention to the internal and external forces that made cattle central to regional, national, and international economies"