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Terras públicas, ocupação privada: elementos para a história comparada da apropriação territorial na Argentina e no Brasil


  • Silva, Ligia Maria Osório


The question as to how much of the conomic backwardness of Latin-American countries such as Argentina and Brazil can in some extent be attributed to the agrarian land structures set up in the middle of the nineteenth century constitutes the main motivation of this paper. Concentration of land ownership has been one of the most permanent characteristics of both countries and traditional historiography customarily attributes the cause of the predominance of large landholdings (latifundia) to agrarian legislation sometimes inherited of the colonial epoch. We have tried to scrutinize this affirmation by distinguishing the historical origin of the latifundia from the reasons for its maintenance as the model of territorial occupation throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Our argument is that land legislation was an instrument utilized by the national states in the nineteenth century to direct the advance of the frontier in a way that made viable: 1) the incorporation of indigenous lands, a movement that mobilized vast human and material resources in the case of Argentina; 2) that the process of appropriation of new lands did not escape the control of the traditional dominant classes in spite of some experiments with colonization centred in family-owned farms carried out in both countries. Along with the similar features of land occupation and appropriation pointed out we tried to stress the differences that strongly contrasts the Brazilian case: a) greater degree of complexity; b) diminished participation of the state in the occupation process; c) heterogeneity of the landholders due to the marked regional differences; d) the considerable amount of public land which extended the frontier process late in the twentieth century; e) the place reserved to squatting, recourse utilized in all regions of the Country in all times.

Suggested Citation

  • Silva, Ligia Maria Osório, 1999. "Terras públicas, ocupação privada: elementos para a história comparada da apropriação territorial na Argentina e no Brasil," Revista Economia e Sociedade, Instituto de Economia, Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP), vol. 12, pages 1-33, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:euc:ancoec:v:12:y:1999:p:109-141

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