Bigger than Life: Cultural Identity and Labor Relations among Gaucho Cowboys in Southern Brazil
The gaucho is associated with everything in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. This Brazilian cowboy was made into a state icon, a symbol of regional identity. The figure of the gaucho - always the heroic gaucho of the past, never the poor ranch hand of the present - gained mythological proportions and, stripped of the harsh realities of life, became a character bigger than life itself. Present-day gauchos, however, are mostly poor ranch workers, and the ranches in which they work are currently threatened by the expansion of commercial agriculture. The fate of cattle ranching in the region is fraught with uncertainty, and its survival may be closely tied to the type of labor relations established between gauchos and landowners.
Published on September 2, 2016.
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