Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Maurico Font

Committee Members

Charles Post

Jeremy Porter

Marc Edelman

Subject Categories

Development Studies | Growth and Development | Inequality and Stratification | Latin American Studies | Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies | Regional Economics | Rural Sociology


Brazil, development, industrialization, rural property relations, agriculture, regional inequality


This dissertation seeks to explain the highly uneven pattern of economic development in Brazil during the 20th century. Stark development differences between the northern and southern regions of the country have long been a problem of concern to scholars and policymakers and have generated a number of studies over the years. However, none of these have gotten to the root of the problem, and state policy has never adequately addressed the regional disparities. This study puts forth a new theory of uneven development based on the different ways that agricultural production has come to be organized in different parts of the world, and how this has impacted larger processes of industrialization and economic development. A comparative examination of the historical development of rural property relations in both the Northeast and Southeast regions of Brazil reveals how very different rural economies emerged in each place, and how this created major disparities not only in agriculture, but across much the rest of the economy. Rural property relations are shaped by historical processes of land appropriation and class struggle, and these processes are further elucidated through archival research in both regions. Statistical data on agricultural productivity and manufacturing are used to test the hypothesis that the regional differences in industrialization are due to fundamental differences in the rural economy.