Brazil's Northeast: Sugar and Surplus Value


  • Kit Sims Taylor





An introduction to economics, for most North American students, comes in the form of a textbook and a series of lectures presenting the "neo-classical/Keynesian synthesis," but my introduction to economics was in the cane fields of Pernambuco, where, as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I worked with an emerging rural labor union. Shocked by the specter of malnutrition in a fertile land and hoping to find a solution, or at least to understand the cause, I took up the study of agricultural economics at a North American university. But it was not what was taught in the classes which helped me to draw together the many things which I had observed; rather it was Andre Gunder Frank's Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America which led me to the threads which unified my observations. Had I read Frank's book before living in Brazil, I am certain that I would have regarded it as unrealistic and dogmatic, but everything which I saw supported Frank's analysis.

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