Presentation Title

The Great Drought of 1877-80: Politics, or Lack Thereof

Faculty Mentor

Ian Read

Start Date

23-11-2019 8:00 AM

End Date

23-11-2019 8:45 AM

Location

191

Session

poster 1

Type of Presentation

Poster

Subject Area

humanities_letters

Abstract

In 1877, precipitations failed to saturate the dry sertão of the Brazilian Northeast, a region which has a history of cyclical droughts with disastrous repercussions. The climate typically restores itself relatively rapidly; however, rain did not fall for over two years. Shortly after the dry season began, farmers started losing their property as their thirsty livestock perished. Various diseases quickly spread and the drought drained water sources completely. Between 200,000 and 500,000 people died. In such alarming times, the government typically deploys emergency envoys to attend those affected and allocates financial resources to relief programs. The story of the Great Drought is unique in that the Brazilian government failed to act promptly and, once it finally diagnosed the disaster’s magnitude, it did not face the crisis with adequate seriousness and determination. Despite its massive consequences, the Great Drought has received little to no attention and does not appear in articles or books, granted a few exceptions. This research tries to describe comprehensively the political inaction which exacerbated the drought. It tells the story of the drought through diverging narratives of prominent newspapers of the time and, in so doing, it attempts to expound on the evident yet largely unspoken of inability of the Brazilian government to address the catastrophe. This research aims at exposing the corruption and power schemes which occupied most political life; and by describing the ‘other-worldly’ sphere within which Brazilian elites operated, it aims at clarifying and elucidating the causes, exacerbations, and implications of this episode of Brazilian history that has been forgotten.

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Nov 23rd, 8:00 AM Nov 23rd, 8:45 AM

The Great Drought of 1877-80: Politics, or Lack Thereof

191

In 1877, precipitations failed to saturate the dry sertão of the Brazilian Northeast, a region which has a history of cyclical droughts with disastrous repercussions. The climate typically restores itself relatively rapidly; however, rain did not fall for over two years. Shortly after the dry season began, farmers started losing their property as their thirsty livestock perished. Various diseases quickly spread and the drought drained water sources completely. Between 200,000 and 500,000 people died. In such alarming times, the government typically deploys emergency envoys to attend those affected and allocates financial resources to relief programs. The story of the Great Drought is unique in that the Brazilian government failed to act promptly and, once it finally diagnosed the disaster’s magnitude, it did not face the crisis with adequate seriousness and determination. Despite its massive consequences, the Great Drought has received little to no attention and does not appear in articles or books, granted a few exceptions. This research tries to describe comprehensively the political inaction which exacerbated the drought. It tells the story of the drought through diverging narratives of prominent newspapers of the time and, in so doing, it attempts to expound on the evident yet largely unspoken of inability of the Brazilian government to address the catastrophe. This research aims at exposing the corruption and power schemes which occupied most political life; and by describing the ‘other-worldly’ sphere within which Brazilian elites operated, it aims at clarifying and elucidating the causes, exacerbations, and implications of this episode of Brazilian history that has been forgotten.