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Volkswagen in the Amazon: The Tragedy of Global Development in Modern Brazil - Dr. Antoine Acker, University of Zurich

An Exeter Centre for Latin American Studies (EXCELAS) seminar
Date7 June 2018
Time15:30 to 17:00
PlaceAmory B315

Exeter Centre for Latin American Studies Research Seminar


From 1973 to 1987, Volkswagen's (VW) 140,000 hectare 'pioneer' cattle ranch on the Amazon frontier laid bare the limits of capitalist development. These limits were not only economic, with the core management of a multinational company engaged in the 'integration' of an extreme world periphery, but they were also legal and ethical, with the involvement of indentured labor and massive forest burning. Its physical limits were exposed by an unpredictable ecosystem refusing to submit to VW's technological arsenal. In this book presentation, I will discuss how the VW ranch, a major project supported by the Brazilian military dictatorship, was planned, negotiated, and eventually undone by the intervention of internationally connected actors and events. This case study illustrates the first historical manifestation of a global shift in thinking about the Amazon, from the world's supposed granary to its burning lungs. It shows how an agenda for tropical rainforests emerged through economic globalization.

OrganizerExeter Centre for Latin American Studies

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