Development, gold and mining in the Brazilian Amazon: Women's labor in Garimpagem

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


Mark Rupert


Gold, Mining, Brazilian, Amazon, Labor, Garimpagem

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Women's Studies


This dissertation explores the social relations entailed by women's labor in peasant gold mining (garimpagem) in the Brazilian Amazon. Drawing upon debates of feminist political economy, its purpose is to challenge the anti-mining vision of the critical development theories of structuralism, dependency, neo-structuralism and world-system. These depict social relations of mining as backward, enclave-type, unproductive, technologically inferior and destructive. The research shows that social relations of women's labor in garimpagem intersect in structural historical relations more heterogeneous and complex. On one hand, women's labor reproduces relations of poverty, inequity and vulnerability. On the other hand, it reproduces social relations that enhance garimpo production and its contribution to development, such as ethnogeology of garimpagem and identification of labor with knowledge and experience in mining. The unifying ground for the conflicting social relations is the sense of entrepreneurship women ascribe to garimpagem. Following an inductive approach, this dissertation discusses the significance of women's social relations for the political economy of gold in the region and its implications for critical development theories.


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