Living with sugar
Focusing on southeastern Brazil between the 1770s and the 1830s, this chapter demonstrates how the expansion of plantation agriculture associated with the “second slavery” reduced access to land in Campinas, causing conflict between sugar planters and small farmers. The destruction of export production in Saint Domingue provided Brazilian planters and farmers – especially those from the southeast – new opportunities to engage in the world market. By switching production from food crops to sugar cane, southeastern Brazil’s townships took local cash crop production to a new level, becoming responsible for a considerable percentage of the world’s sugar supply in the process. This chapter analyses how the production of sugar restricted access to land and changed the connection between free small producers and the expanding sugar plantations, exploring the strategies deployed by the small farmers in response to the prospect of having their land “expropriated” by sugar planters. The method of micro-history used in this chapter sheds light upon their strategies of resistance and adaptation to “modernisation” in the period from the foundation of the Campinas township in 1774 to the predominance of sugar plantations in the mid-nineteenth century.