My work aims to study immigrants’ social and economic mobility via land access in the state of São Paulo at the beginning of the XX century. From 1886 to 1905, over 1,2 million European immigrants entered São Paulo state to work on the coffee plantations as substitutes for slaves. Over 80% of them came to the state via the paulista government subsides program. These immigrants were normally poor people whom, without the subside would not have the means nor would choose São Paulo to migrate. After arriving in Santos port, they were transported to the Immigrants Hostel at the capital where they were given lodge and food for eight days and could negotiate a job contract before being allocated to a farm on the countryside. The dream of becoming landowners act as a pull factor for many of these immigrants. Despite the land laws designed to protect the existing agrarian elites, and an immigration policy to attract the poorest Europeans, many actually obtained land, settled and assimilated into the Brazilian and Paulista society. In this paper, using microlevel data on the rural properties of the state from an agricultural census of 1905, I first focused on foreigners’ rural properties and their participation on the Paulista agriculture at the time. Then, by using an algorithm to cross names of immigrants registered at the Immigrants Hostel with the foreigners listed as landowners in the 1905 census, I was able to identify how many of the immigrants who passed through the Hostel were actually able to acquire land. This work contributes to a dilemma on the historiography of immigration and land access in São Paulo on who were the immigrants that acquired land: if the ones came with subsides to work on the farms, or the spontaneous one, with more self-resources. In this paper I show that the answer depends on the nationality of the immigrant.
Final year PhD candidate in Economic History. Faculty of Philosophy, Languages and Human Sciences of the University of São Paulo (FFLCH/USP), São Paulo, Brazil. This paper is part of my PhD thesis named “Os imigrantes e a terra: acesso à propriedade rural em São Paulo, 1886-1920” (“Immigrants and the land: access to rural ownership in São Paulo, Brazil, 1886-1920”), scheduled to be defended by the beginning of 2021.
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