One-company towns in Brazil


one company towns
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Andreza A de Souza Santos & Brazilian Confederation of Municipalities





A remarkable characteristic of colonialism in Latin America was the extraction of natural resources for foreign trade. In post-colonial Latin America, however, many economies continued with the model of commodities export-based growth. This project looks at extractive industries in Brazil. The aim of this project is to identify, map, compare, and contrast municipalities that have mining as a main economic resource. Amongst those extractive locations, we will focus on the ones that have one leading company: one-company towns. While some mining towns have diversified its economic activities, many others have not. What decisions led to diversification or to the so-called monotown model? What does economic dependency generate politically and socially?



We work with key terms in the examination of extractive municipalities, namely:


  • Vocational towns: Is the idea of vocation locally supported or politically imposed? Is diversification key for sustainable social and economic growth?
  • Participation: how does grassroots politics take shape in an environment of great economic dependency?
  • Migration patterns: Are migration movements clearly related to the prosperity cycles of companies?
  • Which patterns of public health and environmental conservation can be easily identified in extractive territories?

This project has policy targets:

  • To advise mayors about economic dependency and its economic, political and social consequences. Could companies help diversifying local economies while they are economically healthy and seeking to renew licenses?
  • When dependent on one company only, the decline of such company may mean the diaspora of most residents. To close down the only school, to no longer have a health centre, to live in a street without neighbours can be a traumatic experience. How to advice residents to relocate, how could small municipalities re-attract residents?


Academically, the targets are:

We look at political-economy history of targeted extractive municipalities to offer a dataset about these locations in terms of Mapping, GDP, Migration, Public Health and Demography. We also look at selected extractive municipalities to discuss how long-term mining affect people and places. We also zoom in on case studies to look at social and political aspects in disappearing towns.  

The pink tide has attracted much attention in contemporary Brazilian Studies. This project looks at locations that have prompted growth by providing resources, without necessarily directly profiting from economic and population growth. The architecture, demography, social memory, and politics of extractive industries in target locations in Brazil are at the core of this project.



We will focus on the publication of academic papers, policy orientations, and maps of one-company towns in Brazil.


Principal Investigators:

Dr Andreza A de Souza Santos (

Brazilian Confederation of Municipalities (Estudos Tecnicos


Research collaborators:

Professor Professor Nuno Faria, University of Oxford


To read about this project in Portuguese, please click here:


one company towns
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