1st Edition

Forty Years of the Landless Workers Movement Landless Perspectives

Edited By Alex Ungprateeb Flynn Copyright 2025
    256 Pages 37 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Forty Years of the Landless Workers Movement: Landless Perspectives presents ethnographic insights into Latin America’s largest social movement as it celebrates its 40th anniversary. The Landless Workers Movement (MST), with over 1.5 million members, has been fighting for agrarian reform since 1984. In its forty-year struggle, the movement has secured land for over 350,000 families and become a worldwide beacon for progressive politics. Its enduring presence is a remarkable feat; while other movements have come and gone, the MST continues to be a steadfast force in the pursuit of social justice and environmental sustainability. How has the MST managed to endure in a country dominated by agribusiness and characterized by a hostile politics? The rationale of this collection is to answer such questions from an ethnographic standpoint, connecting personal stories to theorizations of land and struggle. The detailed accounts of the book’s contributions sit in dialogue with the longitudinal commitment of the contributors, many of whom have been working with the movement over a period of decades. Such a commitment allows the book to speak to a forty-year timeframe, creating an approach that points to broader conclusions and possible futures. With contributors from Brazil, Europe and North America, the book connects lived experiences with wider political questions pertaining to global mass mobilization. Offering a fresh perspective on one of the world’s most iconic social movements, the volume will be of interest to scholars of anthropology, sociology, political science, Latin American studies and beyond.

    Introduction: Relations and the social in movement

    Alex Ungprateeb Flynn

    1. Peasant pathways: The MST and conquered territories as future

    Nashieli Rangel Loera

    2. Two enemies to fight: an ethnographic journey with MST Pentecostals in Pernambuco

    David Simbsler

    3. Critique of the MST: Perfecting the Anarchist Promise of a Socialist Movement

    Jonathan DeVore

    4. The Agroecological Rift

    Claire Lagier

    5. Education in movement with the Movement: The evolution of the Pedagogy of the MST over forty years

    Alessandro Mariano, Rebecca Tarlau

    6. Becoming sem terra: rites of passage and protest

    Mel Gurr

    7. Art, activism, and the importance of process: A conversation between Alan Leite and Luciana Melo of the MST theater collective Banzeiros, the artists Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca and Alex Ungprateeb Flynn

    Alan Leite, Luciana Melo, Bárbara Wagner, Benjamin de Burca, and Alex Ungprateeb Flynn

    8. Demonization to Canonization: The Landless Workers’ Movement Shifting Relationship to the City

    Alex Ungprateeb Flynn


    Alex Ungprateeb Flynn is Associate Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.