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Zero Hunger

Political Culture and Antipoverty Policy in Northeast Brazil

Aaron Ansell

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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Pädagogik


When Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil's Workers' Party soared to power in 2003, he promised to end hunger in the nation. In a vivid ethnography with an innovative approach to Brazilian politics, Aaron Ansell assesses President Lula's flagship antipoverty program, Zero Hunger (Fome Zero), focusing on its rollout among agricultural workers in the poor northeastern state of Piaui. Linking the administration's fight against poverty to a more subtle effort to change the region's political culture, Ansell rethinks the nature of patronage and provides a novel perspective on the state under Workers' Party rule.

Aiming to strengthen democratic processes, frontline officials attempted to dismantle the long-standing patron-client relationships--Ansell identifies them as "intimate hierarchies--that bound poor people to local elites. Illuminating the symbolic techniques by which officials attempted to influence Zero Hunger beneficiaries' attitudes toward power, class, history, and ethnic identity, Ansell shows how the assault on patronage increased political awareness but also confused and alienated the program's participants. He suggests that, instead of condemning patronage, policymakers should harness the emotional energy of intimate hierarchies to better facilitate the participation of all citizens in political and economic development.

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Aaron Ansell



Community-driven development in Northeast Brazil, “Neoliberalism and peasant society in Northeast Brazil,” “hunger in Northeast Brazil,” “evil eye belief in Northeast Brazil,” “food culture in Northeast Brazil,”, Economic development in Northeast Brazil, Neoliberalism and social policy in Brazil, Peasant communities in Northeast Brazil, Political cultural in Northeast Brazil, Sertão, Conditional cash transfer programs in Brazil, clientelism in Northeast Brazil, Brazil's Workers' Party Government, Quilombola movement in Northeast Brazil, Brazil's Workers' Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT), Democratization in Northeast Brazil, Piaui State, Brazil, Liberation Theology in Northeast Brazil, Social movements in Northeast Brazil, Brazilian social policy, Coronelismo, Patron-client relations in Northeast Brazil, Intimacy as a cultural theory, Liberalism in Brazil, Brazil's Bolsa Família Program, Brazil's Zero Hunger (Fome Zero) Program, Patronage in Northeast Brazil, Hierarchy and politics in Brazil, Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, the Lula Government in Brazil