This book has been so long in the making that it has racked up an unusual
number of debts. My most significant and immediate debts are to the
members of the Landless Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Ru-
rais Sem Terra, or mst)—both those who are featured in the book and
those who are not but who spent countless hours with me, driving to
meetings, debating the value of collective production, introducing me to
friends, and eating watermelon on hot days. My research would not have
been possible without the warm welcome and generosity of mst leaders
and members in both Santa Caterina and Pernambuco. Because I have
tried to avoid using real names throughout the book, I will not thank
individual mst members here but I feel honored to have been witness to
the work being done on land reform settlements throughout Brazil. mst
members put everything—often even their lives—on the line when they
join the movement, and I hope they will not think that this book does
them a disservice.
In both Campos Novos and Água Preta, where I did most of my field-
work, I met people who became dear friends, even if they weren’t sure
what my research was about. The Michelin sisters, particularly the indom-
itable Helena, welcomed me into their home in Campos Novos and even
found me an Internet connection when no one believed it was possible.
Mana was a wonderful friend, and her extended family never got upset
when I showed up every weekend for Sunday lunch. In the Northeast of
Brazil, I had the luck to meet the Araujo family almost as soon as I showed
up in Água Preta. Iara and her children took me in like a sister; I was
coddled, scolded, put to work, and teased in fairly equal measure. I spent
many, many evenings and weekends with Iara and the rest of the Araujo
sisters—Ana, Ednara, Ivania, and Edvania.
Doing my Ph.D. at Berkeley, I had the privilege of working with an in-
spirational group of scholars. I am still learning from my dissertation
advisor, Michael Watts, and being reminded how much I learned from
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