This chapter considers how a desire for land and development can lead to a refashioning of ethnoracial identities and identifications. Debates in development studies have centered on culture as an impediment to development. I turn that debate on its head and argue that new assertions of cultural particularity have in certain settings advanced the equity goals of development. The chapter explores the contrasting responses of two neighbouring communities of related African descended, mixed race rural workers who over a 25-year period (1975- 2000), under new laws, were recognized and given land by the Brazilian government. One was identified as an indigenous tribe, the other- the primary focus of this chapter - as a community of descendants of fugitive slaves. Struggles for recognition and land have provoked a hardening of family feuds and ethnicization of disputes, but have also reformulated the way in which 'community' and 'race' are expressed.

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Copyright © 2009 Routledge-Cavendish. This chapter first appeared in The Rights and Wrongs of Land Restitution: 'Restoring What Was Ours'.

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