Smuggling is eminently a geographic practice, which can be described as illicit commerce based in differences – of price, quality and availability of merchandises – generated by custom barriers associated to the delimitation of the Nation-State. This type of illegal international trade demands from its agents the knowledge of the applied geography of the border, learned in the experience of the bordering condition. This thesis places methodological bases for the study of the geography of the smugglers in the city(ies) of Santana do Livramento (Brazil) – Rivera (Uruguay). Its objective is to explore the practices of smugglers in that place, examining the daily dimensions of the international border and establishing bases for a geographic study of smuggling. In this analysis, we examine border literature and smugglers´ narratives, textual representations that circulate in the region, within the Comark of Pampas, where the smuggler appears as a traditional character, bearer of local truths. Then, we look into local history and border theories, which point to the fact that the encouragement of settling and urbanization in the area was part of a State policy. However, as we maintained an eye on cultural translation, with the aim of understanding local representations through the language forms specific to smuggling and smugglers, fieldwork revealed a transnational local culture resulting from contact among local populations, shared languages and habits. As amatter of fact, we compared textual representations of varied geographic and social origins and genres, which resulted in the creation of a Geography of Thinking. The actual result was a cartography of qualitative base, which focuses on petty smugglers, bagayeros. We identified different scales of smuggling in Santana do Livramento: daily smuggling; bagayo; embezzlement of products of free shops; cattle theft; besides other forms involving greater volumes, values and distances. The smugglers can be classified according to goods and the amounts he/she trades; the origin and the destination of the merchandise (rural or urban, to or from Brazil, Uruguay or third countries); according to the tradition of the practice (bagayo and cattle theft are traditional, pesticides or computer parts are emerging modalities); to associated contraventions (tax evasion, trading of forbidden merchandises; bribing; coercing; attempting against the environment; killing); to social networking etc. We verified that the relation with the Custom oscillates between connivance and legal punishments. We identified that the warehouses of wool, leather, wood or products of the indirect exportation, bus stops and other materializations of transborder commerce in the city(ies) are organized along two axles: 1. along the border itself and 2. near the highways heading for Porto Alegre or Montevideo and the west region of Uruguay. We conclude that smuggling is absolutely structural to this society, being important in supplying for the needs of the population; rather than as an act of felony, smuggling is regarded as a form of employment, a way of making a living. It is carried out through solidarity networks, which also serve as its source of legitimization. Furthermore, smuggler ethos creates a local identity, setting outsiders apart from group members and developing a territoriality with extension, passages and polarizations, engaged in a permanent updating, according to the variable contents of the border.

[PDF] portuguese only

Dorfman, A. 2009. Contrabandistas na fronteira gaúcha: escalas geográficas e representações textuais. Tese (Doutorado em Geografia). Programa de Pós-Graduação em Geografia, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis.