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The Sights and Voices of Dispossession: The Fight for the Land and the Emerging Culture of the MST (The Movement of the Landless Rural Workers of Brazil)


Frei Betto
Ademar Bogo
José Carlos Sebe Bom Meihy
Sávio Bones
Ênio Bönhenberger
Araci Cachoeira
Roseli Salete Caldart
Haroldo de Campos
Antonio Candido

Bernardo Mançano Fernandes
Paulo Freire
Chico Buarque de Hollanda
Bernard McGuirk
Malcolm McNee
Tetê Morais
Parvati Nair
Zé Pinto
Darcy Ribeiro

Sebastião Salgado
Plinio Arruda Sampaio
Sônia Fátima Schwendler
João Pedro Stedile
Pedro Tierra
Charles Trocate
Else R P Vieira

Frei Betto: Dominican friar and writer; leading name in the Base Ecclesial Communities that anticipated Liberation Theology. A militant against dictatorship, he was for several years a political detainee. Assessor to several social movements in Brazil, amongst which the Pastoral of the Workers and the Central Popular Movements. Consultant to the MST. Advisor to the present President of Brazil, Lula da Silva. He has published 45 books, amongst which O que é comunidade eclesial de base/ What are Base Ecclesial Communities (reprinted many times); Fidel e a religião/ Fidel and Religion (1,300,000 volumes sold only in Cuba); Das catacumbas/ From the Catacombs, letters which he wrote in prison during the military dictatorship (1969-1973), translated into 9 languages; his co-authored book with Emir Sader foregrounds civilization and barbarism at the turn of the century (published by Boitempo).

Ademar Bogo: Ex-seminarian; a militant in the MST who works in the Sector of Training of the Movement; he has systematized in books and booklets diverse aspects of the Movement’s culture, such as the Mística, education, and music. He is also known as a poet and composer of the Movement’s music, notably the MST anthem.

José Carlos Sebe Bom Meihy: Professor of the Department of History of the College of Philosoply, Letters and Human Sciences at the University of São Paulo and coordinator of the Nucleus for Studies in Oral History, founded in 1991 by the same university. He is the author of several books, among which are Manual de história oral [Manual of Oral History (Ed. Loyola, 1998) and Canto de Morte Kaiowá [Kaiowá Death Song] (Ed. Loyola, 1991).

Sávio Bones: Director of the Instituto ProJetO, belongs to the Members Collective of the periodical Revista Práxis and the Editorial Council of the Correio da Cidadania. He is a member of the Collective of the National Agrarian Secretary of PT, the Labor Party, and the advisory body of National Confederation of Mineral Workers. A road technician, he was director of the union Central Unica de Trabalhadores (CUT) of the metropolitan section of Belo Horizonte, and a member of the executive committees of the PT of Belo Horizonte, the State Directorship of Minas Gerais and the National Directorship.

Ênio Bönhenberger: Militant of the MST; coordinator of the Cultural Collective of the Movement.

Araci Cachoeira (Araci Maria dos Santos): Poeta. Nasceu em em 1953 no estado de Minas Gerais, em Água Formosa (Vale do Mucuri), onde se encontra a Cachoeira da Beleza que dá origem ao seu cognome. Herdou de seu pai a arte da poesia e o dom da narrativa caipira, ligados à infância no meio rural. Preocupada com a questão indígena no Brasil, em 1995 criou a personagem Jacira Maxacali, uma índia que faz protestos em defesa dos índios e da natureza. A escrita passou a ser a arma de combate de Araci Cachoeira na esperança de transformação de uma nova sociedade.

Roseli Salete Caldart: Member of the National Collective of the Educational Sector of the MST. Ph.D in Education from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. Among her publications are two books published by Editora Vozes, Educação em Movimento: formação de educadores e educadoras do MST (1997) and Pedagogia do Movimento Sem Terra (2000).

Haroldo de Campos: Born 1929, São Paulo, graduated in law and later completed a doctorate in literature from the Universidade de São Paulo. One of the founders of the movement of Concrete Poetry in São Paulo in the 1950s, Haroldo de Campos is also an essayist, translator, and theorist whose works are internationally known. He was one of the most active figures in world movements of experimental and visual poetry for over three decades. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Montréal and several important prizes, among which are the Lumière UNUPADEC (Rome, 1998), the Octavio Paz Foundation prize (Mexico, 1999), the Roger Caillois prize (France, 1999), the Jabuti prize five times (Brazil, 1991, 92, 93, 94, 99). Emeritus professor of semiotics of the Catholic University of São Paulo, visiting professorships at Yale University (1978) and the University of Texas at Austin (1791 e 1981). Teaching and lecture tours in Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Canada, and others. His career includes some 12 books of poetry, 18 of literary studies, 14 of ‘transcreations’, as well as projects for the theatre, cinema, and plastic arts. Two universities joined in a homage to Haroldo de Campos on his seventieth birthday, in Oxford and Yale, in conferences organized respectively by Else R P Vieira and David Jackson. Visit also and

Antonio Candido: A writer, sociologist and cultural theorist. A renowned literary critic and foremost historian of Brazilian Literature, particularly for his Formation of Brazilian Literature. He inspired an important strain of socio-criticism in Brazil. Formerly a Professor of Literary Theory and Comparative Literature at the University of São Paulo, Associate Professor of the University of Paris and Visiting Professor at the University of Yale.

Bernardo Mançano Fernandes: Geographer, professor and researcher of the Universidade Estadual Paulista/State University of São Paulo (UNESP) – Presidente Prudente Campus, São Paulo. Director of the Nucleus for Studies, Research and Projects on Agrarian Reform - NERA (Núcleo de Estudos, Pesquisas e Projetos de Reforma Agrária), where he is organizing the Dataluta (Banco de Dados da Luta pela Terra/ Data bank on the struggle for the land). A member of the Education Sector of the MST. Member of the Board of the Association of Brazilian Geographers (AGB), 1986/1994. Author of MST: Formação e territorialização (Editora Hucitec) e A formação do MST no Brasil (Editora Vozes). PhD from the a University of São Paulo (USP).

Paulo Freire: Brazilian educator, the author of the celebrated Pedagogia do oprimido / Pedagogy of the Oppressed, amongst other contributions towards the development of a critical dimension in education.

Chico Buarque de Hollanda: Composer, singer and writer. Unbroken career of success for over three decades. An exponent of the politically-committed strain of Brazilian Popular Music. The son of the historian and sociologist Francisco Buarque de Hollanda, he was born in 1944 in Rio and started his career in the 1960s. He was chosen Brazil's Musician of the Century in a competition sponsored by Isto É, a prominent weekly news magazine. During the military dictatorship, he went into a self-imposed exile for two years in Italy. As a novelist, he is better known for Fazenda Modelo—Novela Pecuária/ Model Farm —A Cattle-Raising Story, Estorvo/Turbulence and Benjamim. His most famous plays are Roda Viva, Calabar., Gota D'água/Last Straw, and Ópera do Malandro/The Trickster’s Opera.

Bernard McGuirk: Professor of Romance Literatures and Literary Theory at the University of Nottingham where he is also the Head of the Postgraduate School of Critical Theory and Cultural Studies. He has published widely on literatures in French, Spanish and Portuguese and his most recent books are Latin American Literature: Symptoms, Risks and Strategies of Poststructuralist Criticism (Routledge, London) and Poesia de Guerra (Memo, Sao Paulo). In 1998 he was elected President of the Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland; in 1999 he was an inaugural winner of the Lord Dearing Award for Excellence in Teaching; in 2001 he was appointed Commander of the Order of Merit by President Jorge Sampaio of Portugal for his contribution to Lusophone studies and in 2003 he was granted a Senior Research Fellowship of the University for his research on literary and cinematographic representations of the Falklands/Malvinas war.

Malcolm McNee: M.A. in Latin American Studies at Tulane University. Ph.D. Candidate, MacArthur Scholar, and Graduate School Fellow in Luso-Brazilian Literary and Cultural Studies in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Minnesota. He is presently completing a dissertation on cultural politics and canon formation in the Landless Movement, for which he undertook extensive research throughout Brazil His publications on Brazilian and Portuguese literature and culture, include articles on Machado de Assis, Brazilian Modernism, Fernando Pessoa, José Saramago, and Tropicália. E-mail contact:

Tetê Morais: Brazilian film director and producer. Pioneering and innovative work on the land conflicts and the woman. Several national and international prizes. The DVD with both films, Terra para Rose /Land for Rose and O Sonho de Rose / Rose's Dream, and several statements (including Sebastião Salgado and Chico Buarque), with subtitles in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, is distributed by Versátil Home Vídeo (

Parvati Nair: Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at Queen Mary, University of London. She writes on ethnicity and migration in Spain, especially in the context of music, film and photography. She is the author of the book, Configuring Community: Theories, Narratives and Practices of Community Identities in Contemporary Spain (forthcoming, MHRA) and co-editor together with Steve Marsh of Gender and Spanish Cinema (forthcoming, Berg). E-mail contact:

Zé Pinto: Poet, composer, cantador/poet-singer. He was born in the state of Minas Gerais. When he was a child, his family emigrated to Rondônia, in the north of Brazil. He started his artistic work in encampments and settlements at the age of 13. He is one of the producers of the first CD of the MST, Arte em Movimento/Art in Movement, to which he also contributes with nine songs. He also participated in the Primeiro Festival Nacional de Canções da Reforma Agrária/ First Agrarian Reform Festival, which gave rise to the second CD of the Movement. He produced the CD of children’s songs of the MST, to which he also contributed with 11 songs. Uma Prosa Sobre Nós/A Chat About Us is his individual CD. He is the author of poetry books as Poesia que brota da luta/Poetry that Sprouts from the Struggle (sold out). His work of disseminating the MST culture included Portugal, Germany, Belgium and Spain.

Darcy Ribeiro: Eminent Brazilian anthropologist and writer. Minister of Education, founder of the University of Brasília. A researcher and author of several books.

Sebastião Salgado: A world-renowned photographer and part of the tradition of "concerned photography". Considered by many the best documentary photographer in the world today, Sebastião Salgado has been awarded virtually every major photographic prize and award in recognition of his accomplishments from institutions around the world. In 1994 he founded his own press agency, Amazonas Images, which represents him and his work. Of particular relevance are the photographs is his book Terra: Struggle of the Landless (published in English by Phaidon Press, 1998) which portray the drama of Brazil’s dispossessed and migrants and of the various stages of the struggle for land. The book further includes lyrics by the foremost Brazilian composer Chico Buarque de Hollanda, and a preface by the Nobel Prize winner José Saramago. The book is dedicated to the millions of landless families in Brazil whose plight Salgado documented in 1996. The exhibition Terra, equally resulting from this work, took place in 1997 in 40 countries and over a hundred Brazilian cities. It also marked the beginning of the activities, at the University of Nottingham, of the project and website The Sights and Voices of Dispossession, together with the Colloquium Landless Voices, held in September 2001. As part of the activities related to the conclusion of the project, Sebastião Salgado was awarded the degree of Doutor Honoris Causa by the University of Nottingham in December 2002. For further information on Sebastião Salgado’s projects and major works, visit his official website or contact The special website was set up by the New York Times as a tribute to Terra.

Plinio Arruda Sampaio: Politician and one of the founders of the Workers’s Party (PT). He graduated in Law from the University of São Paulo and did his postgraduate work at Cornell University. Consultor to the United Nations (FAO). His political rights were lifted in 1964, when he exilded in Chile. His political career, upon his return to Brazil, includes a term as Congress Representative and the candidacy to the government of São Paulo. Presently he is the director of the Correio da Cidadania/ Citizenship Newspaper, a weekly publication of commentaries on the events disseminated by the media.

Sônia Fátima Schwendler: Pedagogue and professor of the Department of School Planning and Administration of the Federal University of Paraná. Master’s degree in Rural Educational Extension. She takes part in research and extension activities with the MST, in the coordination and assistance in the Educational Project of Young People and Adults in the Agrarian Reform Settlements in the south Paraná region, associated with the PRONERA, or National Program of Education in Agrarian Reform). She has contributed to the discussion of gender in the formative process of literacy teachers for young people and adults in the agrarian reform settlements.

João Pedro Stedile: Graduated in Economics from the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, with post-graduate course at UNAM (Mexico). Assisted the Pastoral Land Commission, one of the founders of the MSTand current member of the National Directorship. Author of Questão agrária no Brasil [The Agrarian Question in Brazil] (São Paulo: Atual Editora, 1997), A luta pela terra no Brasil [The Struggle for Land in Brazil], with Frei Sérgio (São Paulo: Scritta, 1993), A reforma agrária e a luta do MST [Agrarian Reform and the Struggle of the MST] (Petrópolis: Vozes, 1997), Brava gente: a trajetória do MST e a luta pela terra no Brasil [Brave People: the Trajectory of the MST and the Struggle for Land in Brazil], with Bernardo Mançano Fernandes (São Paulo: Fundação Perseu Abramo, 1999).

Pedro Tierra (Hamilton Pereira): Informal militant of the MST; he participated in the Comissão Pastoral da Terra/Pastoral Land Commission (CPT ) together with João Pedro Stedile. He uses the pseudonym of Pedro Tierra in his poetry. He defines himself as a comrade of the sem-terra/landless rural workers by virtue of the shared political identity and his passion as the son of retirantes/ migrants from the North-East who went through the drama of being poor peasants in Brazil. He started writing verses while he was a political prisoner during the military dictatorship. When free, he contributed for the founding of unions of rural workers in many states throughout the country. He has a lifetime trajectory of political struggle. He was agrarian secretary to the National Directorate of the PT/Workers’s Party. In 1997 he was invited by the governor of the Federal District of Brasília to direct the Department of Culture. He is the director of the Perseu Abramo Foundation. He has published eight books: Poemas do povo da noite/ Poems of the People of the Night, Água de rebelião/Water of Rebellion, Missa da terra sem males/Mass of the Land Without Evils, Missa dos quilombos/Quilombo Mass, Inventar o fogo/Inventing Fire, Passarinhar/To Bird, Bernardo Sayão e o caminho das onças /Bernardo Sayão and the Leopard’s Trail. Dies Irae, his book with 9 texts, focuses on violence in Brazil, particularly in the rural areas.

Charles Trocate: Poet and composer. He was born in 1977 in Castanhal, in the north-east of the state of Pará. In 1983 his family migrated to the south of Pará. He now lives in Marabá. He joined the MST in 1993, at the age of 15, when he took a course for the encampment’s children. In 1995 he started writing poetry. His engaged literature, born out of the encampments and settlements, claims agrarian reform and more human dignity.

Else R P Vieira: Project Director & Academic Editor of The Sights and Images of Dispossession: The Fight for the Land and the Emerging Culture of the MST while Visiting Senior Research Fellow in Latin American Studies at the University of Nottingham. Her present post is in the area of Latin American Studies (with special reference to Brazil), at Queen Mary, University of London. Her postdoctorate work, in Brazilian Studies, was at the University of Oxford (Centre for Brazilian Studies), where she was also a Visiting Fellow in Brazilian Studies. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature (the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil, and the University of Warwick) and an MA and BA from the Federal University of Minas Gerais. Other affiliations include: University of Oxford, Wadham College; University of Harvard, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies; University of California at Berkeley, Center for Latin American Studies; UMIST. Main points of her previous career in Brazil include: Directorship of Postgraduate Studies in Comparative Literature and Applied Linguistics; Convenership of Integrated Project on Intercultural Transfers; Critical and Cultural Theories (University of Nottingham_UFMG); Implementation of off-campus Masters Programmes at the State Univeristy of Montes Claros, Minas Gerais, at the Federal University of Pará, in the Amazon area; Directorship of the Nucleus for Latin American Studies. She has published internationally and in Brazil several books, book chapters and articles in Journals related to the projects below. Her selected research projects include: Voices and Images of Dispossession. Narratives of the Brazilian diaspora: literature and ethnic press. Latin American Postcolonial Thinking. Theories of Translation in Latin America; translation and colonialism; translation and Antropofagia; translation and dictatorship; cultural translation. Intercultural Transfers. Transnational Cultural Networkings. Changing Frontiers of Latin America (contributor). Late Modernities in Brazil (contributor). E-mail contact:


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Last updated: July 5th 2016