Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Rebecca Zarger, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tara Deubel, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kevin Yelvington, D.Phil.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Bernd Reiter, Ph.D.


environmental racism, accumulation by dispossession, Brazil, Coastal fishing communities, political ecology


Until the 1970s, small black fishing communities primarily populated Bahia’s north coast. A recent demand for luxury coastal real estate has radically altered the region’s social and environmental landscape. While Bahia’s population is roughly 80% poor and black, the coast is now a space of exclusivity and whiteness. Sewage infrastructure does not meet the needs of the growing population. Domestic sewage flows directly into urban rivers. Poor black fishers, whose food security and livelihoods depend on access to healthy water resources, suffer most in this context. This dissertation explores two interlinking forms of environmental racism – water pollution and racial profiling – that fishers in Praia de Buraquinho, Bahia, Brazil, experience daily. Based on fourteen months of ethnographic research, this project follows the lives of 75 fishers enmeshed in a struggle for environmental and racial justice. I uncover how coastal development has polluted the community's primary river fishery while private gated communities physically restrict fishers' access and subject them to racial profiling practices by private security guards. Ultimately, I argue that regional coastal development in Bahia represents a new model of capital accumulation through what I call “racialized environmental dispossession” that, as one Praia de Buraquinho fishers suggests, is "like watching a brother die."