Northeastern Brazil has long been characterized as a region dominated by traditional social and political patronage. Scholarship on the postindependence period has found patronage to be at the root of social and economic underdevelopment, an obstacle to democracy, and, ultimately, a cause of regional backwardness. Anthropologist Aaron Ansell has written a thoroughgoing critique of recent academic and political approaches to patronage based on studying the implementation of Fome Zero (Zero Hunger) and Bolsa Família programs in the pseudonymous município of Passarinho in the Brazilian state of Piauí. Ansell challenges the notion that patronage is a locus of economic and political exploitation and instead proposes a new model for understanding patronage termed “intimate hierarchy,” in which patrons and clients are potentially, if not economically and politically, equal and thus agree to exchanges that are mutually beneficial. He resuscitates Sidney Mintz and Eric Wolf's...

Article PDF first page preview

Article PDF first page preview
You do not currently have access to this content.