Geography ETDs

Publication Date



The sugar plantation zone of Pernambuco, Brazil, with a conservative culture forged out of chattel slave history, has been the most challenging region for the Brazilian landless peasants movement to penetrate in order to implement agrarian reform. The movement founded the Frei Gondim Settlement in the heart of the region in 1994 in order to present an alternative to the pollution of sugar monoculture and the injustices of landlessness around it. This thesis holds that the settlement represents a true alternative, but that the juxtaposition of a settlement socially isolated from its surroundings with a mode of production in which cooperation is limited creates challenges for economic and ecological sustainability. I submitted ethnographic data I collected on the settlement to the Netting Model, a test of family farmer success. An important part of my data was derived from an ethnobotanical study of native Atlantic Rainforest medicinal plants on the settlement.'

Degree Name


Department Name


Level of Degree


First Advisor

Duvall, Chris

First Committee Member (Chair)

Lane, Maria

Second Committee Member

Lowrey, Tim

Document Type


Project Sponsors

Tinker Foundation field research grant, administered by the Latin American and Iberian Institute, UNM. UNM Office of Graduate Studies Research Project and Travel Grant.




sustainability, Robert Netting, agro-ecology, sugar monoculture, Movimento Sem Terra, landlessness, ethnobotany, medicinal plants, The Netting Model