Conference on Latin American History 65
Sugar, sugar-cane ethanol, and beef represent three of the most important agricultural commodities in the Brazilian economy. The papers in this panel consider how farmers and industrialists across Brazil formed networks to push through government policies that promoted increased production, export, or regulation, of these commodities over the course of a century. Uniting Canadian and American scholars from a range of methodological backgrounds including social/cultural, agricultural, labor, environmental, political/economic, and diplomatic history, the papers highlight a number of communities that sought to negotiate regional and international priorities. These communities faced structural challenges that included limited infrastructural development, erratic administrative attention, and the fluctuating demands of international markets. Together, the papers show how flexible the concept of "commodity chains" needs to be: links move from one place to another and into new and old regions with great fluidity. The cases described in the panel demonstrate that politicians, producers, or consumers could prompt these shifts when they embraced ideologies geared toward a range of outcomes that included preventing revolution, promoting regional equality, addressing hunger, and encouraging economic development.