The Life and Work of a Manual Sugarcane Harvester

  • Terry-Ann JonesEmail author
Part of the Mobility & Politics book series (MPP)


This chapter highlights the labor dimension of the sugarcane industry and examines the relationship among the workers, recruiters, and owners, vis-à-vis the hierarchical structure that was established during Brazil’s colonial period. Within the sugarcane industry, manual cane harvesting is arguably the most dangerous and physically difficult type of work. It is also the type of work that offers the lowest wages. Injuries occur with frequency, as workers are often inadequately equipped for the inherent danger of rapidly slashing stalks of sugarcane with machetes. Cane cutters contend with excessive sun exposure, dehydration, and exhaustion, which have caused a number of deaths in the cane fields. Not surprisingly, it is the task that is generally reserved for migrant workers. This chapter also discusses housing accommodations and living conditions, as well as the range of health problems that workers endure, such as respiratory illnesses and chronic renal failure.


Working conditions Housing Health Sugarcane burning Mechanization Recruiters 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyFairfield UniversityFairfieldUSA

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