Greening Brazil: Environmental Activism in State and Society

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Greening Brazil: Environmental Activism in State and Society

By Kathryn Hochstetler and Margaret E. Keck
Duke University Press, 2007
304 pp. $84.95
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Two lifetime students of Brazil combine extensive participant observation with hundreds of interviews and a mastery of relevant academic theory to offer a sophisticated insider recounting of Brazil's environmental travails. Hochstetler and Keck identify three main periods: the 1950s through the early 1970s, which gave birth to conservation organizations, research institutions, and the first state environmental agencies; the 1980s, when democracy gave rise to activist organizations seeking to synthesize social, economic, and environmental goals; and the present, when international influences are blending with local nongovernmental organizations and increasingly sophisticated public bodies in the struggle to gain some measure of control over the sweep of Amazonia and to abate urban pollution. Drawing on their previous scholarly work, the authors show how social networks and dedicated individuals interact with government institutions -- themselves in a constant state of evolution -- to formulate policy. In light of Brazil's shaky legal system and mutable institutions, the environmentalists' greatest challenge, the authors observe, is to close the gap between often well-formulated laws and substantive realities.