Praying for drought: Persistent vulnerability and the politics of patronage in Ceará, Northeast Brazil

Donald R. Nelson, Timothy J. Finan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

66 Scopus citations

Abstract

The phrase persistent vulnerability reflects the enduring relationship of the rural population in Ceará with a highly variable climate. Persistence underscores the historical and unyielding nature of this vulnerability. Yet contrary to once-catastrophic rates of mortality etched in a public consciousness, no one dies from severe droughts and few people flee them as in the past. Government relief and social transfers have become the institutionalized form of adaptation, giving way to the counterintuitive reality that drought stabilizes the food and income supply for poor people.We analyze how maladaptive risk reduction, which is embedded in clientilistic social relations, undermines resilience, and we examine pathways toward a more sustainable adaptive relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)302-316
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Anthropologist
Volume111
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009

Keywords

  • Adaptation
  • Clientilism
  • Drought
  • Patronage
  • Resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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