Human Ecology

, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 531–546 | Cite as

“Brasilience:” Assessing Resilience in Land Reform Settlements in the Brazilian Cerrado

  • Jennifer BleshEmail author
  • Hannah Wittman


This study assessed the socioecological resilience of family farms in three land reform settlements in Mato Grosso, Brazil, located in the ecologically threatened Cerrado biome. Using focus groups, a household survey, and analysis of soil samples we characterized farming systems and quantified indicators of resilience, which we contextualized with a qualitative analysis of distributions of power and access to rights and resources. In Mato Grosso, where diversified agriculture is a marginal presence in an industrialized agricultural landscape, none of the communities were achieving participant-defined threshold levels of any measured indicator of resilience. However, farmers who were members of a marketing cooperative selling produce through a federal public procurement program had significantly greater agrobiodiversity, plant-available soil phosphorus, household food self-sufficiency, and access to stable markets. Our pilot study suggests that the convergence of grassroots mobilization and political-institutional change is a central leverage point for developing more resilient food systems.


Agroecology Food sovereignty Brazil Resilience 



We thank Brooke Pian and Johan Oldekop for research assistance, and Ryan Galt and the peer reviewers for comments on the manuscript. We are especially grateful to the farmers who participated in the study. Funding for this research was provided by the National Science Foundation (Blesh, Award # 1064807) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Natural Resources and EnvironmentUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Center for Sustainable Food SystemsUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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