Lavrador de Cana

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Lavrador de Cana

Lavrador de Cana, in Brazil a farmer who planted and harvested sugarcane, which was then sent to a mill for processing into sugar. In colonial Bahia, cane farmers were associated with the dominant sugar export economy, slavery, and the political interests of the sugar sector. Most lavradores were white and were socially an adjunct of the mill-owner elite, although many were themselves people of humble background and resources. However, the racial composition of the lavradores changed at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The records of one mill show that 44 percent of the lavradores were nonwhite.

Land determined one's social position and the relationship of cane farmers to the mill. Those who owned land outright, who were the most privileged, generally divided the pressed cane on a fifty—fifty basis with the mill owners. Among the less fortunate were those who owned land that was under obligation, and sharecroppers and tenants, who leased or rented Engenho lands with restrictions both on land use and on the disposal of the cane produced. Lavradores de cana owned varying numbers of slaves and in some cases also had capital sufficient to purchase or negotiate access to the oxen, lumber, and firewood necessary for sugar production.

See alsoPlantations; Slavery: Brazil; Sugar Industry.


Stuart B. Schwartz, Sugar Plantations in the Formation of Brazilian Society: Bahia, 1550–1835 (1985).

Additional Bibliography

Araújo, Tatiana Brito de. Os engenhos centrais e a produção açucareira no Recôncavo Baiano, 1875–1909. Salvador, Brazil: FIEB, 2002.

Barickman, B. J. A Bahian Counterpoint: Sugar, Tobacco, Cassava, and Slavery in the Recôncavo, 1780–1860. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998.

García Fernández, Ramón V. "Os lavradores de cana de São Sebastião." Revista do Instituto de Estudos Brasileiros. 40 (1996): 173-190.

                          Nancy Priscilla Smith Naro

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Lavrador de Cana

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