The modern mangroves of Josué de Castro

20130920005450880959uDiario de Pernambuco did an exposé on the 40-year anniversary since the death of the Pernambucan sociologist and writer Josué de Castro (see short bio below). Looking at the only novel he wrote, Of Men and Crabs, they went to the mangues (mangroves) of Recife to see what has changed in the last 40 years. The answer? Despite the first line of the article, not much (PT, I translated a little of it below).


“A lot has changed since Josué de Castro showed the world, in his novel Of Men and Crabs, launched in 1967, the misery and the suffering lived by those who are hostages to hunger. But there are people who are currently living in the same way. They are the survivors of the mangrove. In the midst of the 21st century, they cry and suffer in silence due to a lack of basic assistance. They go unnoticed in the face of the economic growth of Pernambuco and its capital, Recife.

They hide themselves behind the flashy numbers, in the statistical ambushes that reveal the best but fail to photograph the faces of those that, in spite of it all, still live on the lower side of the graphs. The faces of Josiane, Maria, José and Miguel figure among the 20.9% of the Brazilian population (over 200 million people, according to statistics from July) that confess they don’t have enough money for food. 

During one week, Diario entered the mangroves and visited the river communities of the capital. They found the characters of Josué de Castro in the city’s most miserable places.

They saw kids playing in mud up to their chest. The oldest residents caught sight of the photographer and made “mungangas” (a Northeastern word for strange or silly faces), à la Chico Science. True sculptures of mud. Today, four days until the 40-year anniversary of the death of the social scientist, his audacious voice and, above all, the man who studied hunger guides this report.”


“Josué de Castro, born Josué Apolônio de Castro (5 September 1908 in Recife – 24 September 1973 in Paris), was a Brazilian physician, expert on nutrition, geographer, writer, public administrator, and activist against world hunger.

His book Geopolitics of Hunger was granted with The Franklin D. Roosevelt Foundation Award, in 1952. Two years later, he received the International Peace Prize.

He taught at the University of Brazil (today’s UFRJ) and was chairman of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). He was also a member of the Brazilian parliament and a diplomat. His political rights came to an end with the military coup of 1964 in Brazil. He taught at Paris 8 University until his death.” [1]


2 responses to “The modern mangroves of Josué de Castro

  1. Pingback: Revisiting Freyre’s Recife | Eyes On Recife·

  2. Pingback: Josué de Castro documentary (1994) | Eyes On Recife·

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