Tag Archives: development

Suape’s Children: The Social Impacts of Brazil’s Top-Down Development

After reporting on the BP oil spill and its aftereffects, I became interested in the dynamics of oil production and coastal communities. Suape, a port and industrial complex in Brazil’s northeast gave me an opportunity to do some research into an area with some similarities to coastal Louisiana. What I found is a pattern of development that has received a fair bit of attention in relation to the World Cup:  a top-down model that imposes plans on low-income communities, all too often with violent methods.

Many people helped me over the course of this project. I am particularly indebted to Alex Shankland, my professor at the Institute of Development Studies, who first mentioned the Suape complex to me. Alex also connected me with Renato Athias, who provided extensive contacts and support during my first months in the area.

One result of my efforts is this piece published by Pacific Standard Magazine.

Valeria de Alcantara hunts for crabs on a beach near the Suape port complex.
Valeria de Alcantara hunts for crabs on a beach near the Suape port complex.

Industrial Impacts Highlighted in The Guardian

The Guardian recently published a piece of mine about the impact that the Suape Port Complex, just south of Recife, is having on traditional fishing communities. This is the project that brought me back to Brazil, and I’m working on developing other outputs for it. My hope is to create a photographic and audio installation that will communicate some of the experiences of the people who live in the area near the port. In the meantime, you can read the story on how pollution from the port is impacting women shellfishers here.

  • Vania Maria de Alcàntara contemplates a mangrove tree at the start of a shellfishing expedition in a swamp near the Suape Port Complex.
  • Valeria Maria de Alcàntara tests a stream bed to ensure she doesn't step on a stinging eel.
  • This kind of exposure to polluted water results in high rates of skin and reproductive infections according to a study done by the Sociedade Nordestina de Ecologia.
  • A kilo of crab meat will sell for roughly 70 Reals, and it now takes 3 mornings to collect this amount, when it used to take just one.
  • Valeria Maria de Alcàntara styles her daughter's hair after a morning's work in the mangrove swamp.