Dying Professions

Nadia Shira Cohen & Paulo Siqueira

Published on 11/07/15

© Nadia Shira Cohen & Paulo Siqueira

A lone church and immacu­lately cared for cemetery stand among bovine skel­et­ons, and a crum­bling hotel struc­ture. Tor­na­dos toss tumble­weed the dry expans­ive plane in the state of Ceara’s back­coun­try. Cocosi was once a thriv­ing town, an anchor in an expanse of cow coun­try, filled with cow­boys, and their rich landown­ers. The town, which now resembles a wild west­ern film was owned by the power­ful Feitosa fam­ily, until a fam­ily feud left the houses and few busi­nesses deser­ted. It now stands as a sym­bol of the degrad­a­tion of Brazil’s North­east which is going into it’s 5th year of severe drought, as Brazil as a whole faces near eco­nomic depression.

A com­bin­a­tion of harsh weather con­di­tions, advance­ment of tech­no­logy and gov­ern­ment sub­sidy has helped con­trib­ute to the extinc­tion of some of the very unique and artis­anal pro­fes­sions of this region of the coun­try, pro­fes­sions that were born out of neces­sity and a mix­ture of cul­tures includ­ing Afric­ans brought as slaves, Nat­ives as well as vari­ous migrants, mainly European.

Nadia Shira Cohen & Paulo Siqueira set out to find those that are still hanging on to these pro­fes­sions or per­haps have been able to trans­form them­selves in order to stay alive and con­tinue to carry on the cul­ture of North­east. The pro­ject focuses on 10 pro­fes­sions from mid­wifes to artis­anal salt miners, iron work­ers and bush cow­boys, the story explores the his­tory of the pro­fes­sions and their rela­tion­ship with the build­ing of the North­east of Brazil as well as their con­tri­bu­tion to it’s cul­tural richness.

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