“We are all Garimpeiros”: Settlement and movement in communities of the Tapajós small-scale gold mining reserve

Judith Kolen, Eline de Smet, M.E.M. de Theije

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Scholars have been carrying out research into the urbanization of the Brazilian Amazon since the 1960s. This article addresses the role of small-scale gold mining in urbanization, by focusing on local processes in two mining settlements in the Tapajós Mineral Province: Creporizão and Creporizinho. This analysis addresses why mobility and temporary settlement, which are traditional characteristics of small-scale gold mining, are gradually giving way to longer stays in these mining settlements. Over the years, irregular mining settlements have evolved into formalized villages. These settlements attract increasing numbers of families and service providers. This transition from an irregular and provisional settlement to a more stable and formalized one is not a unilateral process, but takes shape through the interaction of local and informal initiatives and passive–reactive local and federal governments. In addition, settlement permanence is to a large extent constructed around the notion of a “garimpeiro community” in which small-scale gold mining lies at the root of a collectively formed identity. In these villages, links with regional urban centers such as Santarém and Itaituba remain strong. In the context of urban development in the region, Creporizão and Creporizinho can still be seen as mining villages, where settlement remains a strategic choice and a stage in the life trajectory of its inhabitants.[Amazon, Brazil, development, geography, migration, urbanization].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-188
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Latin American an Caribbean Anthropology
Issue number1
Early online date13 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Amazonia
  • Brasil
  • desenvolvimento
  • geografia
  • migração
  • mineração
  • urbanização


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