My research examines why some smallholder farmers in the Brazilian Amazon are leaving agriculture and migrating large urban centers, and then returning to rural and peri-urban areas. My secondary research question explores to what extent identification with rural lifeways may play a part in influencing return migration. To understand why smallholders migrate, I studied migrants in three communities in the Tapajós National Forest (FLONA), in Pará, and a recently formed neighborhood of former agriculturalists from the FLONA on the outskirts of Alter do Chão, a peri-urban community. I used a mixed methods research methodology to gather my data.
My informants cited the hope of finding employment and furthering their educations as the primary pull factors to urban centers Lack of basic infrastructure was the primary push factor for leaving the countryside. Return migrants cited lack of satisfactory employment opportunities, violence and poor quality of life as the primary push factors for leaving the cities. Pull factors to rural areas included quality of life, education and employment. While the most popular destinations for return migrants have superior infrastructure and economies, most return migrants' incomes had either remained stagnant or deteriorated, however the majority felt that their quality of life was significantly improved in rural areas.