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Itaipú: Gender, Community, and Work in the Alto Paraná Borderlands, Brazil and Paraguay, 1954-1989.


Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/12120

Itaipú: Gender, Community, and Work in the Alto Paraná Borderlands, Brazil and Paraguay, 1954-1989.

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Title: Itaipú: Gender, Community, and Work in the Alto Paraná Borderlands, Brazil and Paraguay, 1954-1989.
Author: White, John Howard
Advisor(s): Hutchison, Elizabeth Q.
Committee Member(s): Hall, Linda B.
Bieber, Judy
Truett, Samuel
Milleret, Margo
Department: University of New Mexico. Dept. of History
Subject: Itaipu Binacional
Hydroelectric Dam Workers
Labor Militancy
Gender and Sexuality
Democratic Transitions
LC Subject(s): Dams--Social aspects--Brazil
Dams--Social aspects--Paraguay
Dams--Economic aspects--Brazil
Dams--Economic aspects--Paraguay
Migrant labor--Brazil--History--20th century
Migrant labor--Paraguay--History--20th century
Work and family--Brazil
Work and family--Paraguay
Company towns--Brazil
Company towns--Paraguay
Public works--Social aspects--Brazil
Public works--Social aspects--Paraguay
Degree Level: Doctoral
Abstract: In 1975 workers on massive earth-moving machines began excavations in the middle of the Paraná River for what later would become the site of the world’s largest hydroelectric dam, Itaipú Binacional. During the period 1974-1991, the dam was constructed as a joint venture between the military regimes of Brazil and Paraguay and thousands of workers and their families migrated to the borderlands in search of employment. My study uses the conceptual framework of gender and sexuality in order to produce a comparative social history of the Itaipú hydroelectric dam project and the worker communities that it created in the Alto Paraná borderlands. This dissertation incorporates the story of dam workers, including their struggles and their lived experience in the “company town” and in so-called “peripheral communities,” into the grand narrative of technological advancement and “order and progress” embodied by the “Project of the Century.” Rather than being tangential to the story of “Itaipú,” these protagonists—militant dam workers, housewives, shantytown residents, and sex workers, among others—form an essential piece of our understanding of the impact of infrastructure projects and national development on local communities and identities. The dissertation reconstructs the Alto Paraná as a historical place, shows how the borderlands became the locus of nation building for two Latin American countries, discusses the migration of single male workers and constructions of masculinity, analyzes corporate programs to “remake” married dam workers into family men and their female partners into housewives, reconstitutes dystopian sexual communities and maps the changing itineraries of male sexual consumption, and concludes by narrating working class political struggles and labor conflict in the context of democratic transitions in both Brazil and Paraguay.
Graduation Date: December 2010
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/12120

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