Brazilian county-level juridical documents as sources for historical geography: a case study from western Sao Paulo State
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In this essay I discuss the uses of juridical documents from western Sao Paulo state, Brazil, for the historical geography of twentieth-century environmental and agricultural change. Documents analyzed include land-survey and land-subdivision records, probate cases, land-use and land-tenure litigation, and labor complaints. Land-survey material can be used to reconstruct settlement-era vegetation and land uses. Probate inventories for rural properties show watershed-specific details of farming economies. Analysis of land-title conflicts reveals how environmental resources are contested in a wide range of settings. Labor complaints allow researchers to study the diversity of social relations in land clearance and agriculture.
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