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The Struggle for Amazon Town: Gurupá Revisited

Richard Pace
ISBN: 978-1-55587-339-4
ISBN: 978-1-55587-352-3
1998/244 pages/LC: 97-242

"This is a valuable and enjoyable work which, by focusing on the indigenous campesinato, fills something of a void in the ethnography of the Brazilian Amazon. Both expert Brazilianist and undergraduate will learn much of value regarding extractivism and its social and environmental consequences."—William H. Fisher, American Anthropologist

"A lively, highly readable study....[It] goes well beyond a reexamination of another investigator’s work, forging a new path into the realm of the regional, national, and international political and economic forces at work in Gurupá.”—Allyn MacLean Stearman


Massive changes have engulfed the Brazilian Amazon region in the forty years since Charles Wagley’s landmark study, Amazon Town, was first published. In his engaging restudy, Richard Pace explores today’s "Amazon Town" (Gurupá), where development efforts have left little untouched, little familiar.

Focusing on the actions of the community as it faces new opportunities and recurring adversity, this work enlarges the scope of Wagley’s earlier study and reflects changes in anthropological method. Pace examines the social and cultural history of Gurupá—including such factors as regional underdevelopment, environmental degradation, and social conflict—as well as the more recent effects of political mobilization and Liberation Theology on human rights awareness and social advancement. He richly illustrates the political and economic forces—national and international—that affect Gurupá, and explores the motivations and means of those searching for alternatives to current patterns of development.


Richard B. Pace is assistant professor of anthropology at Western Kentucky University


  • Introduction.
  • An Amazon Community.
  • The Demise of the Native American.
  • The Rise of the Indigenous Campesinato.
  • Repeating History?
  • Economic Trends, Post-1964.
  • Labor and Land in a Changing Economy.
  • Adaptations to Poverty.
  • The Rise and Fall of Authoritarian Politics.
  • The Politics of Religion.
  • Conclusion: Confronting the Bicho.