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Cabral, Lídia Vilela.pdf (4.2 MB)

Priests, technicians and traders: actors, interests and discursive politics in Brazil’s agricultural development cooperation programmes with Mozambique

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posted on 2023-06-09, 04:17 authored by Lidia CabralLidia Cabral
This research is about Brazil’s international development cooperation in agriculture. I take two cooperation programmes carried out by the Brazilian government in Mozambique – ProSAVANA and More Food International (MFI) – to analyse the processes whereby cooperation policy is formed and transformed. I ask how Brazil’s domestic politics interact with international affairs to shape agricultural cooperation with Mozambique. I consider the ‘priests, technicians and traders’ of Brazilian cooperation, following a caricature used by one respondent to characterise disputes in ProSAVANA. This triadic portrayal captures the diversity of actors, interests and discourse of Brazilian cooperation. It is also analytically useful to investigate how actors relate to one another and how alliances, networks or coalitions, held together on the basis of convenience, shared beliefs or common narratives, emerge and evolve over time. My analytical approach places actors and interests in the context of institutional processes, but also against policy narratives that are the product of history, state-society interactions and class-based struggles in Brazil. The latter are, in turn, at the root of those institutional processes and actors’ identities. Narratives may be used to pursue certain agendas but they also construct the agendas and the identity of the actors that articulate them. My research also emphasises the inter-spatial or travelling dimension of cooperation policy, with flows of influence occurring forwards and backwards. Brazilian actors, interests and discourse travel from Brazil to Mozambique, get interpreted and absorbed selectively and this has repercussions back to the point of origin. Finally, I argue that Brazil’s development encounters in Mozambique proved harder to manage than suggested by the presumed affinities and claims about horizontal relations in Brazilian cooperation. The experiences of ProSAVANA and MFI illustrate the challenges facing the Brazilian cooperation narrative and its governing principles. I discuss implications for the Brazilian ‘model’ and for the South-South paradigm.


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