Revisiting Palmares: Maroon Communities in Brazil (Celeste Henery)

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive on 2015-11-12 16:37Z by Steven

Revisiting Palmares: Maroon Communities in Brazil (Celeste Henery)

African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS)

Celeste Henery, Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Texas, Austin

This is a guest post by Celeste Henery, a Research Associate at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies. She completed a PhD in Anthropology at UT in 2010. Her research and writing focuses on issues of gendered blackness, mental wellness, and diaspora. She has conducted anthropological research in Brazil and in the United States. In addition to working on her book manuscript, she is applying her anthropological and race scholarship as a social historian for post-conviction habeas corpus proceedings. Dr. Henery is currently continuing her research on gender and race with a geographic focus on Texas and the U.S. South.

AAIHS Blogger Greg Childs’ recent post, “Visible Fugitives,” initiates a welcomed conversation about black geographies. As Childs suggests, quilombos, or maroon communities in Brazil, have played integral roles in the social constructions of such notions as the urban and rural, as well as conceptions of black subjectivity and resistance in Brazil. In the years following the fall of Palmares, quilombos persisted. In 1988, when Brazil’s current Constitution was drafted, quilombos attained state recognition and guarantees to their land. The 1988 Constitution and subsequent legislation created a bureaucratic process for quilombos to acquire land titles. According to statistics from the Fundação Cultural Palmares and the INCRA (the National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform), the two state agencies responsible for the recognition and land titling of quilombos, there are over 2,500 recognized communities—1,528 in the titling process and 196 possess titles.

However, much like their ancestors, many quilombolas, or quilombo descendants continue to struggle to stay connected to their lands and sustain themselves in spite of titles. Issues of geography and land are intricately woven into their livelihood and they raise pertinent questions about quilombos and the interplay of black geography and black racial politics in Brazil. For those interested in diaspora, quilombos also provide another critical subject of discussion about the familiar notions of home, dispersal, and sustainability–all factors that are pertinent to disparate black realities.

This post draws on my fieldwork in several quilombola communities in the state of Goiás, Brazil. These communities had registered, if not already had received their title by the time I began conducting research in 2005. These were all rural communities. One was more remote than the others–at a distance from infrastructure such as stores, hospitals, and social services. As a result, their geography presented distinct and ongoing challenges…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,