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date: 08 May 2021

Palmares and Zumbi: Quilombo Resistance to Colonial Slaverylocked

  • Luiz Geraldo SilvaLuiz Geraldo SilvaUniversidade Federal do Parana

Summary

Existing in the 16th and 17th centuries and located in the captaincy of Pernambuco, in the Northeast of Brazil, the quilombo of Palmares was one of most vigorous and complex societies formed by fugitive slaves in the Americas. Its size, longevity, and the intensity of the war that marked its collapse in 1694 can only be compared to events of a similar nature that took place in Jamaica and Suriname, the Maroon War (1728–1739) and the Saramaka War (1749–1762), respectively. While these were concluded in peace treaties between colonial governments and fugitive slaves, Palmares had a different outcome. Its historic dynamics were associated with three interdependent dimensions. The first refers to the formation and social dimension of both the plantation economy and the traffic of African slaves to Brazil, which explains the nature, social existence, and density of social groups who formed and maintained Palmares quilombo for more than a century. The second dimension is related to the transformations over successive generations of its institutions and balance of power, from which there resulted a political structure based on lineage and the African concept of rights-in-persons. The third dimension is related to the relations of power between the leaders of Palmares and agents of the Portuguese monarchy, who sought to undermine that political structure and to take advantage of the tensions between the lineages existing in the quilombo.

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