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FLEEING INTO SLAVERY: The Insurgent Geographies of Brazilian Quilombolas (Maroons), 1880-1881

  • Yuko Miki (a1)


On July 26, 1880, Benedito, the most notorious quilombola, or maroon, in São Mateus, the northern region of Espírito Santo province, Brazil, disappeared from the public prison in a flamboyant escape. After his drunken guards fell asleep, Benedito placed a cleaning bucket on top of his cot and employed it as a stepping-stone in tandem with a rope made from his bedsheet to scale the back wall enclosing the cell. He leapt to the other side, opened the back door, and slipped out noiselessly. Rendering the situation even more preposterous to those who discovered him gone were the handcuffs that lay on the floor smeared with sheep fat, which he had used to slip his hands out without forcing the locks.



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1. The term quilombola, always ending in “a,” is both an adjective, signifying the condition of a maroon or fugitive slave, and a noun, denoting male and female maroons. A quilombo is an actual settlement of maroons; sometimes they are called mocambos. I use the terms ‘quilombo’ and ‘maroon settlement’, and ‘quilombola’ and ‘maroon’, interchangeably in this article.

2. The sources vary as to his exact age. The estimate of 24 is based on the record of his sale on January 22,1872, which states that he was “more or less 16”; he would have been 24 or 25 in July 1880. CPSM Tabe-lionato Liv. 4 Fl. 90.

3. Aglinio Requiào to Chief of Police, August 2, 1880. APEES Policía Ser. 2 Cx 436 Me 666 Fl. 38.

4. The only major work on Benedirò and his enslaved contemporaries in Sào Mateus is by the local pop¬ular historian Maciel de Aguiar, who interviewed elderly former slaves in the 1960s and created a book out of their remarkable stories. See Aguiar, Maciel de, Os últimos zumbís: a saga dos negros do Vale do Cricaré durante a escravidâo(Porto Seguro, Bahia: Brasil-Cultura Editora, 2001). A brief scholarly article about Benedito’s involve¬ment in the 1884 slave conspiracy is Robson Martins, “Em louvor a ‘SantAnna’: notas sobre um plano de revolta escrava em Sào Matheus, norte do Espirito Santo, Brasil, em 1884,” Estados Afro-Asiáticos 38 (2000).

5. The scholarship on Brazilian quilombos and mocambos has a long and rich history. Early studies by scholars of the New World Negro such as Carneiro, Edison, O quilombo dos Palmares, 3rd. ed. (Rio de Janeiro: Civilizaçào Brasileira, 1966), emphasized their counter-acculturative force, in which quilombos represented a total rejection of slaveholding society that made them guardians of a more “African” culture but rendered them ahistorical. These works also elevated Palmares into a quilombo paradigm that for many years over¬shadowed other examples. This culturalist view was echoed in Genovese, Eugene D., From Rebellion to Revo¬lution: Afro-American Slave Revolts in the Making of the Modem World (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979), which saw maroon communities as restorationist and “pre-political” since they predated the Age of Revolution. Brazilian Marxist historians, including Moura, Clóvis, Rebeliōes da senzala: quilombos, insurreiçōes,gucrrilhas, 2nd. ed. (Rio de Janeiro: Conquista, 1972), rebuffed these culturalist interpretations but still argued that only by placing themselves outside the structures of a slave-based economy could quilom¬bos exert any influence on its transformation and undoing. More nuanced analyses about quilombos, their intent, and their relationship to the larger society emerged with Stuart Schwartz’s landmark discovery of a list of demands authored by a group of quilombolas in late colonial Bahia: Schwartz, Stuart B., “Resistance and Accommodation in Eighteenth-Century Brazil: The Slaves’ View of Slavery,” Hispanic American Historical Review 57:1 (1977); this was followed by the equally important “Rethinking Palmares: Slave Resistance in Colonial Brazil,” in Slaves, Peasants, and Rebels: Reconsidering Brazilian Slavery (Urbana: University of Illi¬nois Press, 1992). The collection Liberdade por um fio: historia dos quilombos no Brasil (Sào Paulo: Comparitila das Letras, 1996), edited by two of Brazil’s leading historians on slavery, Joào José Reis and Flavio dos Santos Gomes, is essential to any reader interested in recent directions in the study of quilombos from a mul-tidiscplinary perspective. Gomes’ innovative work presents quilombolas as enmeshed within the very fabric of slave society and focuses on the web of social relations through which they challenged slave society from within. While he engages with the idea of quilombolas and quasi-citizenship, gender does not figure promi¬nently in his analyses. Of his numerous publications, some notable examples are Flavio dos Santos Gomes, Histörias de quilombolas: matambos e comunidades de senzalas no Rio de Janeiro, século XIX (Rio de Janeiro: Arquivo Nacional, 1995), which also provides an excellent historiographie analysis on pp. 17–39; A Hidra e os pântnnos: mocambos, quilombos e comunidades de fugitivos no Brasil(sécalos XVII-XIX) (Sào Paulo: Polis: UNESP, 2005). Also relevant to quilombo studies is the recent work on present-day rcmanescentesdc quilom¬bolas (quilombo descendants) that interrogates the relationship between history, memory, and contemporary identities, the most notable being French, Jan Hoffman, Legalizing Identities: Becoming Black or Indian in Brazil’s Northeast ( Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009).

6. For the history of the adjacent region of northern Minas Gerais as a “safe haven” for indigenous and some African-descended people in the colonial period, and its unraveling beginning in the mid-eighteenth century, see Langfur, Hal, The Forbidden Lands: Colonial Identity, Frontier Violence, and the Persistence of Brazil’s Eastern Indians, 1750–1830 (Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 2006).

7. Morana, Mabel, Dussel, Enrique D., and Jáuregui, Carlos A., Coloniality at Large: Latin America and the Postcolonial Debate (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2008), p. 9.

8. My understanding of popular politics is inspired by Latin Americanists such as Steve Stern and Gil Joseph, who have engaged with peasant consciousness and peasant politics, as well as by Robin Kelley's work on African American working-class politics, which he argues is “not separate from lived experience or the imaginary world of what is possible; to the contrary, politics is about these things.” He moreover “reject[s] the tendency to dichotomize people's lives, to assume that clear-cut ‘political’ motivations exist separately from issues of economic well-being, safety, pleasure, cultural expression, sexuality, freedom of mobility, and other facets of daily life.” Such an approach helps us understand quilombola and slave politics as rooted in their lives under slavery, which in turn informed their ideas about proto-citizenship. See Steve Stern, J., “New Approaches to the Study of Peasant Rebellion and Consciousness: Implications of the Andean Experience,” in Resistance, Rebellion, and Consciousness in the Andean Peasant World, 18th to 20th Centuries, ed. Stern, Steve J. (Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1987); Joseph, Gilbert M., “On the Trail of Latin American Bandits: A Reexamination of Peasant Resistance,” Latin American Research Review 25:3 (1990); and Kelley, Robin D.G., Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, and the Black Working Class (New York: The Free Press, distributed by Simon & Schuster, 1996). The quote is from p. 9. Dubois, Laurent, A Colony of Citizens: Revolution Slave Eman¬cipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804 (Chapel Hill: Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Va., by the University of North Carolina Press, 2004), is the most elegant discussion of slaves as political actors in the Age of Revolution; an important counterpoint focus¬ing on royalism in the same period is Echeverri, Marcela, “Popular Royalists, Empire, and Politics in South¬western New Granada, 1809-1819,” Hispanic American Historical Review 91:2 (2011).

9. My gratitude goes to Flavio dos Santos Gomes for informing me about these sources. Regarding their analysis in this chapter, I recognize that slave testimonies are almost without exception created in a climate of terror and coercion, engendering what Aisha Finch has called an “archive of violence.” Whoever utilizes such sources must account for the fear and need for self-protection that underlay the words of the individuals sub¬ject to interrogation. Finch recognizes the difficulties of utilizing slave testimonies, yet offers a compelling argument for their use; Finch, A., “Insurgency at the Crossroads: Cuban Slaves and the Conspiracy of La Escalera, 1841-1844” (Ph.D. diss., New York University, 2007). Such circumstances notwithstanding, these testimonies offer rare, invaluable personal narratives by men and women quilombolas for whom such written records remain virtually nonexistent, especially given that Brazil, like many of the other slave societies in the African Diaspora outside of the United States, does not have a tradition of slave narratives. The testimonies are undoubtedly filtered through the lexicon of the authorities and the scribe, but I have decided to treat the language as much as possible as that of the quilombolas and slaves themselves, albeit through my own translation into English. Dismissing these testimonies for their unreliability will only compound the violence to which the enslaved have already been subject. The quilombolas arrested by the police in August 1881 were initially questioned between early August and early September, followed by an interrogation in late September. Other testimonies are dated up to three years later, depending on when the individual was arrested and the date of the court proceedings. Testimonies of witnesses and suspected collaborators were taken between August and September 1881.

10. The region of Sâo Mateus was annexed in 1763 by the then-separate captaincy of Porto Seguro, incorporated after independence into the province of Bahia, and was reverted to Espirito Santo province in 1822; however, it maintained its allegiance to Bahian causes long thereafter. See Miki, Yuko, “Insurgent Geo¬graphies: Blacks, Indians, and the Colonization of Nineteenth-Century Brazil” (Ph.D. diss., New York University, 2010), pp. 3436. The only English-language historical study of southern Bahia and the then-Bahian region of Sâo Mateus is Barickman, B.J., “‘Tame Indians,’ ‘Wild Heathens,’ and Settlers in Southern Bahia in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries,” The Americas 51:3 (1995).

11. The 1828 figures are from a report by Vasconcellos, Ignacio Accioly de to Gouvèa, Lucio Soares Teixeira dc, “Mappa Estatístico da Comarca de Porto Seguro,” April 23, 1828, BN Manuscritos, 11,4,003 n.l. For the 1872 statistics, see Brazil, Estetistica, Directoría Geral de, Recenseamento da populaçâo do Imperio do Brazil a que se proceden no dia 1 de agosto de 1872 (Rio de Janeiro: A Directoría, 1873), microform. Pardos were a mixed-race category of people of varying degrees of African and white ancestry, and often indigenous as well. Cabôclos, first appearing in the census in 1872, included people of mixed indigenous and white ances¬try, as well as acculturated Indians. Government and settlers alike had a deep interest in “disappearing” Indi-ans, partly by discounting them in the census or calling them cabôclos, as this would make way for the seizure of “empty” lands that in reality were indigenous territory. A precise population count for Sào Mateus in the 1880s is unavailable; the total slave population of Espirito Santo in 1884 was 20,216, the largest concentra¬tion in the southern, sugar-producing areas of the province. Conrad, Robert Edgar, The Destruction of Brazil¬ian Slavery, 1850–1888 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972), p. 291.

12. The Botocudo were the best-known group, but there were others, including the Maxacali and Camacà. An in-depth historical and ethnographic study of these groups can be found in Paraíso, Maria Hilda B., “O tempo da dor e do traballio: a conquista dos territorios indígenas nos sertòes do leste” (Doctoral diss., Universidade de Sào Paulo, 1998). For an excellent study of the settlement of northern Minas Gérais at the turn of the nineteenth century, see Langfur, Forbidden Lands. The ideas of the frontier and the backlands figure prominently in both Langfur's and Paraiso's works. Another essential work examining Botocudo his¬tory from the late colonial period to the twentieth century in northern Minas Gérais is Mattos, Izabel Missagia de, Civilizaçâo e revolta: os Botocudos e a catequese na provincia de Minas (Bauru, Sào Paulo: EDUSC; ANPOCS, 2004).

13. The onda negra or “black wave” refers to the internal slave trade from the Northeast to the coffee plantations of the center-south in the second half of the nineteenth century. Those on the receiving end were frequently alarmed by this new influx of slaves, who they found to be particularly rebellious. Frontier regions such as Sao Mateus, however, were “beneath” this tide and do not fit into this well-established narrative of Brazilian slavery. For the black wave idea, see Azevedo, Celia Maria Marinilo de, Onda negra, medo branco: o negro no imaginario das élites-sécalo XIX, Coleçào Oficinas da Historia, vol. 6 (Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, 1987). Among the important works examining slavery and indigenous history in nineteenth-century frontier regions are Barickman, “Tame Indians”; Mary Karasch, “Slave Women on the Brazilian Frontier in the Nine¬teenth Century,” in More than Chattel: Black Women and Slavery in the Americas, eds. David Barry Gaspar and Darlene Clark Hine (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996); Paraíso, , “Tempo da dor”; Mattos, , Civilizaçâo e revolta; Langfiir, Forbidden Lands; and Mahony, Mary Ann, “Creativity under Constraint: Enslaved Afro-Brazilian Families in Brazil’s Cacao Area, 1870–1890,” Journal of Social History 41: 3 (2008).

14. On the development and economy of Sao Mateus, see Nardoto, Eliezer and Lima, Herinea, Historia de Sâo Matetis, 2nd. ed. (Sào Mateus, Espirito Santo: Editorial Atlàntica, 2001); Bittencourt, Gabriel Augusto de Mello, Café e modernizaçâo: o Espirito Santo no sécalo XIX (Rio de Janeiro: Livraria Editora Cátedra, 1987), pp. 5671.

15. Sào Mateus does not have an official archive, and inventories are held by the local notary office, which does not have climate control or a designated conservationist. As a result, most of the documentation is unfotunately in extremely poor condition and the inventory holdings very haphazard. The intense conflicts between Sào Mateus slaveholders and abolitionists are discussed in Miki, “Insurgent Geographies,” chapt. 6, especially pp. 323–353.

16. Although the term sertâo is most often associated with the arid hinterlands of the Brazilian North¬east, owing to Euclides da Cunha’s monumental Os Sertoes (Rebellion in the Backlands) of 1902, the term was used more widely to describe unsettled regions, with a connotation of backwardness or lawlessness. Thus the indigenous lands of the Bahia-Espirito Santo-Minas Gérais borderlands are often referred to in the sources as “sertào.” The seeds of the “unruly” idea could arguably be traced back to the late sixteenth century, when the Indians and fugitive slaves in the area took advantage of lax control on the frontier to establish millenarian reli¬gious communities known as santidades. For santidades as a threat to colonial rule, see Metcalf, Alida C., Go-Betiveens and the Colonization of Brazil, 1500-1600 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005), chapt. 7, and especially p. 223.

17. Said, Edward W., Culture and Imperialism (New York: Knopf, 1993); Camp, Stephanie M. H., Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004). According to Camp, geographers have utilized Said–s concept to describe resistance to colonial occupation. She defines rival geography as “alternative ways of knowing and using plan¬tation and southern space” and its fundamental characteristic as the “movement of bodies, objects, and infor¬mation.” See p. 7 for a more general discussion about colonization and geography.

18. Gomes employs this concept, defined as the “social and economic, beyond the geographic, territory in which different social actors who are not limited to blacks or slaves, circulate,” frequently in his works. A good place to start is Gomes, Flavio dos Santos, “Quilombos do Rio de Janeiro no século XIX,” in Liberdadc por um fio: historia dos quilombos no Brasil, eds. Reis, Joào José and Gomes, Flavio dos Santos (Sao Paulo: Com-panhia das Letras, 1996). The definition is on p. 19.

19. I follow Hebe Mattos’s argument that enslaved people’s ideas of freedom and citizenship expressed their notions of belonging to Brazil. These ideas were shaped under slavery, through a transformation of cus¬tomary rights and privileges into laws guaranteed by the Imperial government; Rios, Ana Lugâo and Castro, Hebe Maria Mattos de, Memorias do cativeiro: familia, trabalho e cidadania no pôs-aboliçào (Rio de Janeiro: Civilizaçào Brasileira, 2005), pp. 4950. The quote, to which I have added the “post,” is from Crush, Jonathan, “Post-colonialism, De-colonization, and Geography,” in Geography and Empire, eds. Godlewska, Anne and Smith, Neil(Oxford, England, and Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1994), pp. 336337.

20. “Auto de inquiriçào sumaria do Alferes Antonio José de Oliveira Pinha” (hereafter Antonio Pinha), August 6, 1881, ΑΝ/CA, Fl. 21.

21. “Auto de perguntas feitas a Bernardino Alves d’Araujo” (hereafter Bernardino d’Araujo), Septem¬ber 20, 1881, ΑΝ/CA Fl. 102.

22. “Auto de exame e corpo de delicto na pessoa de Marcolina escrava de Bernardino Alves Pereira d’Araujo,” July 6, 1881. APEES Policía, Ser. 2 Cx 71 Me 264, Fis. 174–177; copy with slight alterations in ΑΝ/CA, Fis. 14v-18v; “Auto de perguntas feitas á informante Marcolina” (hereafter Marcolina), August 6, 1881,AN/CA, Fis. 22v-23.

23. Antonio Pinha, AN/CA, Fl. 20; “Auto de perguntas feitas a Josepha, escrava de Americo Asscnço de Barcellos” (hereafter Josepha), August 5, 1881, AN/CA Fis. 12-12v; “Auto de inquiriçào sumária de Lib¬erato da Silva Catarina” (hereafter Liberato Catarina), August 6, 1881, AN/CA Fl. 23v.

24. On this widespread practice in Brazil, see for example Goulart, José Alipio, Da fuga ao suicidio: aspectos de rebeldía dos escravos no Brasil (Rio de Janeiro: Conquista, 1972), pp. 5564; Gomes, , A Hidra e os pantanos. Joào José Reis, “Escravos e coiteiros no quilombo do Oitizeiro, Bahia 1806,” in Liberdadepor um fio: historia dos quilombos no Brasil, eds. Reis, Joào José and Gomes, Flavio dos Santos (Sào Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1996), offers a very similar practice of slave hiding in the early nineteenth century, but in his exam¬ple the quilombolas also had their own roças (kitchen gardens) for food cultivation, unavailable to their coun¬terparts in Sào Mateus. Kathleen Higgins’ study of eighteenth-century Minas demonstrates that many free people, despite the threat of severe punishment if caught, engaged in commerce with fugitive slaves, many of whom panned for gold on their own. Higgins, Kathleen J., ‘Licentious Liberty’ in a Brazilian Gold-Mining Region: Slavery, Gender, and Social Control in Eighteenth-Century Sabara, Minas Gérais (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999), pp. 191192.

25. Inventory of dona Maria Francisca Leite da Conceiçào, wife of Francisco Pinto Neto, CPSM Proces-sos Box 96 (1886), Fl. 21. By June 21, 1886, Pinto Neto’s slave inventory contains only one individual,Ignacio, who appears in this article. He manumitted a woman named Marcolina in 1885; the last of his three slaves was Joào Carretào, who soon joined the maroons. Concerning such “scnhores de poneos escravos” (mas¬ters of few slaves), typical among manioc farmers in the Bahian Recôncavo, Bert Barickman has questioned whether their lives differed radically from those of their neighbors who owned no slaves, arguing that in such cases, distinctions were blurred between peasant and slave-based agriculture. Barickman states that the own¬ership of a few slaves helped reduce, but not free, a farmer and his family from house and field work. See Barickman, B.J., A Bahian Counterpoint: Sugar, Tobacco, Cassava, and Slavery in the Recôncavo, 1780–1860 (Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 1998), pp. 152153; on small-scale slaveholding, see Ferreira, Ricardo Alexandre, Senhores de poucos escravos: cativeiro e criminalidade num ambiente rural, 1830–1888 (Sào Paulo: Editora UNESP, 2005). For slave hiders who used quilombola labor in Rio das Comas, southern Bahia, sec Reis, “Escravos e coiteiros,” pp. 350–351.

26. Slave provision grounds have been widely studied by scholars of both the Americas and the Caribbean, the practice being particularly widespread in the U.S. South and the British and French West Indies. The general consensus among scholars is that the practice eased the financial burden of slave nourish¬ment on the masters while giving slaves access to markets and property through surplus production. The enslaved also accrued the ability to negotiate for semiautonomous social space and time. Barickman has argued that in Bahia, although the practice existed—and even originated—in Brazil, it was not as widespread nor did it give birth to the lively slave markets ubiquitous in the Caribbean. On the other hand, Flavio dos Santos Gomes has suggested that quilombolas often practiced cultivation on their settlements and sold their produce in local economic networks, creating one of the foundations of proto-peasantries in late nineteenth-century Brazil, a view echoed by Walter Fraga. However, the sources analyzed in this article have made no suggestion of regular cultivation practices—though every quilombola and slave questioned, with the exception of two women, was involved in agricultural labor. A good overview can be found in the essays in The Slaves’ Econ¬omy: Independent Production by Slaves in the Americas, eds. Berlin, Ira and Morgan, Philip D. (London and Portland, Or.: Frank Cass, 1991). For the Caribbean, see for example Mintz, Sidney Wilfred, Caribbean Traits-formations (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989), pp. 131250; Tomich, Dale W., Through the Prism of Slavery: Labor, Capital, and World Economy (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Litdefield, 2004), especially chapt. 8, “Une Petite Guinee.” For Brazil, see Gomes, Flavio dos Santos, “Roceiros, mocambeiros e as fronteiras da emancipaçào no Maranhào,” in Qttase-cidadâo: historias e antropologías da pôs-emancipaçào no Brasil, eds. Cunha, Olivia Maria Gomes da and Gomes, Flavio dos Santos (Rio de Janeiro: FGV Editora, 2007); Barickman, B.J., “‘Ά Bit of Land, Which They Call Roça’: Slave Provision Grounds in the Bahian Reconcavo, 1780–1860,” Hispanic American Historical Review 74:4 (1994); and Filho, Walter Fraga, Encruzilhadas da liberdade: historias de escravos e libertos na Bahia, 1870–1910 (Campinas, Sào Paulo, Brazil: Editora UNI-CAMP, 2006). For the U.S. South, see Penningroth, Dylan C., The Claims of Kinfolk: African American Prop¬erty and Community in the Nineteenth-Century South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003). Penningroth takes the argument further by contending that the negotiation for time was of greater impor¬tance than that for land. Finally, it should be acknowledged that the fact that the quilombolas did not have their own cultivation does not mean that the practice was nonexistent among slaves. For instance, another sus¬pected slave hider and African-born freedperson, Manoel Tapa, possessed a home, a manioc field, a farm, far-inha-processing equipment, and livestock at the time of his death in 1888. While he may have accrued all his property subsequent to his manumission, it is possible that Tapa accumulated enough wealth to purchase his own freedom with the production of farinha while a slave, an avenue evidently not chosen by the quilombo¬las. Tapa was the ex-slave of Sào Mateus resident Joào Bento Jesus de Silvares, along with Joào Carretào, con¬currently Francisco Pinto Neto’s slave and go-between, and he continued to maintain close ties with the enslaved; he also did not elect to move far away from where he had been enslaved. CPSM Processos Box 98, Inventory of Manoel Joaquim da Vitoria, known as Tapa, August 2, 1881.

27. The argument of a “parasitic” maroon economy relies on a presumed antagonism between maroons and planters and implies an overall economic damage maroons are assumed to have inflicted on their so-called victims. The example of people like Francisco Pinto Neto, who benefited from quilombola labor, obliges us to avoid such stark and historiographically constructed categorizations. For the “parasite” argument, see for example Schwartz, Stuart B., Slaves, Peasants, and Rebels: Reconsidering Brazilian Slavery (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992), pp. 108109, although Schwartz himself recognizes the mutual economic relation-ships practiced in Palmares on p. 24. On the other hand, quilombos’ independent economy and their com¬mercial practices in Brazil are discussed in Schwartz, “Resistance and Accommodation”; Reis, “Escravos e coiteiros”; and Gomes, “Roceiros, mocambeiros.”

28. It is not known where Pinto Neto acquired these weapons. Arming slaves was a common practice throughout the African diaspora from the early colonial period, despite its obvious risks. Black slaves and Indi¬ans were commonly employed as fugitive slave hunters, and both were often sent to participate in domestic and international wars for a sovereign that hardly recognized them as citizens and subjects. Some took advan¬tage of the opportunity to flee their masters and sometimes win their manumission. On the topic of arming slaves, see Arming Slaves: from Classical Times to the Modern Age, eds. Brown, Christopher Leslie and Morgan, Philip D. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006). Higgins notes that in colonial Minas, slaves were com¬monly armed by their masters to protect the land and serve as bodyguards, and that when they fled, they took their weaponry along. See Higgins, , Licentious Liberty, p. 190. A discussion of colonial authorities arming slaves and Indians against each other in Brazil can be found in Schwartz, Stuart B. and Langfur, Hal, “Tapan-huns, negros da terra, and curibocas: Common Cause and Confrontation between Blacks and Natives in Colo¬nial Brazil,” in Beyond Black and Red: African-Native Relations in Colonial Latin America, ed. Matthew Restali (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005).

29. Filho, Fraga, Encruzilhadas da liberdade, pp. 4246.

30. I have yet to find sources documenting the number of slaves able to purchase their manumission.

31. A perceptive discussion of the conundrum posed by the existence of slaves hired out by their masters (escravos deganho)—who were not the same as slaves who hired themselves out for extra work, but similar nonetheless in their capacity to negotiate and work for others—and its incompatibility with the liberal Civil Code is offered in Grinberg, Keila, Código civil e cidadania (Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar, 2001).

32. For more on escravos de ganho, see Reis, Joào José, “‘The Revolution of the Ganhadores’: Urban Labour, Ethnicity and the African Strike of 1857 in Bahia, Brazil,” Journal of Latin American Studies 29:2 (1997). Barickman writes about the practice in rural areas; “A Bit of Land,” pp. 670–671. Moreover, as Sidney Chalhoub has argued, an essential aspect of slaves’ ideas of freedom was the right to their earnings (pecunie) that was included in the 1871 Free Womb legislation. See Chalhoub, Sidney, Visòes da liberdade: urna historia das últimas décadas da escravidáo na corte (Sào Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1990).

33. “Auto de perguntas feitas a Rufina, escrava de José Joaquim de Almeida Fundào Jr.” (Rufina here¬after), September 3, 1881, AN/CA, Fl. 81v.

34. “Auto de perguntas feitas a Ignacio, escravo de Francisco Pinto Neto” (Ignacio hereafter), July 30, 1881, ΑΝ/CA Fl. 7v.

35. Bernardino d’Araujo.

36. Ignacio; “Auto de perguntas feitas a Manoel da Silvado Espirito Santo, conhecido por Curandor,” August 5, 1881, AN/CA El. 12v; “Auto de perguntas feitas a Manoel Bahiano, escravo de Dona Maria Bcnedita Martins” (Manoel Bahiano hereafter), August 8, 1881, AN/CA Fl. 25v.

37. Ignacio, Fis. 6v-7v.

38. Only later does a witness, Manoel Antonio de Azevedo (brother of Maria Benedita Martins, Roge-rio and Manoel Bahiano’s owner), say that according to Josepha, Benedito himself had said that day, upon leaving the quilombo with Lucindo, that he had shot Marcolina. “Testemunha jurada de Manoel Azevedo,” September 20, 1881, AN/CA Fis. 107–107v; Marcolina.

39. Rufina, Fl. 82v.

40. Manoel Bahiano, Fl. 26.

41. “Auto de perguntas feitas a Francisco Pinto Neto,” August 22, 1881, ΑΝ/CA Fis. 61v–62v.

42. “Inquiriçào sumária do réu Vicentino, escravo de José Antonio Faria” (Vicentino hereafter), August 13, 1881, AN/CA Fl. 50v.

43. “Interrogatòrio do réu Manoel Curandor,” September 24, 1881, AN/CA Fl. 131.

44. “Auto de perguntas feitas a Manoel das Chagas, conhecido por Cabinda,” August 18, 1881, AN/CA Fl. 61.

45. Gomes, , Historias de quilombolas, p. 36.

46. Among the very rich literature on post-emancipation peasantries, some important examples include Sheller, Mimi, Democracy After Slavery: Black Publics and Peasant Radicalism in Haiti and Jamaica (London: Caribbean, 2000); Scott, Rebecca J., Degrees of Freedom: Louisiana and Cuba after Slavery (Cambridge: Belk¬nap Press of Harvard University Press, 2005); and Gomes, “Roceiros, mocambeiros.”

47. “Auto de perguntas feitas a Isidio, escravo de Bellarmim Pinto Neto,” July 30, 1881, AN/CA Fis. 8v-9v; Ignacio; Liberato Catarina; Antonio Pinha, Fl. 20v.

48. Many works have addressed the relationship between marronage and geography, although the ideas of distance, inaccessibility, and isolation remain predominant. Aside from the aforementioned work by Camp, see for example Gaspar, David Barry, Bondmen Rebels: A Study of Master-Slave Relations in Antigua, with Implications for Colonial British America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985); Landers, Jane, Black Society in Spanish Florida (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999); Corzo, Gabino La Rosa, “Subsis¬tence of Cimarrones: An Archaeological Study,” in Dialogues in Cuban Archaeology, eds. Curet, L. Antonio, et al. (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2005); and Soares, Carlos Eugenio Líbano and Gomes, Flavio dos Santos, “Sediçôes, haitianismo e conexòes no Brasil escravista: outras margens do Atlántico negro,” Novos Estudos 60 (2002). A preliminary discussion of flight away from and into slavery in Brazil can be found in Reis, Joào José and Silva, Eduardo da, Negociaçâo e conflito: a resistencia negra no Brasil escravista (Sào Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1989), p. 71.

49. In Sào Mateus, batuques were a regular object of complaint by the police in the 1880s. For exam¬ple, the law of April 1883 expressly prohibited batuques within the city, likely built on existing frustration over such gatherings, but the law continued to be ignored by its residents, slave and free, leading up to and after abolition; Manoel Vasconcellos to Felintro de Moraes, September 22, 1887, CPSM Processos Box 97. On music, community, and its persecution, see for example the essays by Reis, Joào and Sweet, James included in Diasporic Africa: A Reader, ed. Gomez, Michael Angelo, (New York: New York University Press, 2006).

50. I am indebted to Dylan Penningroth’s study of African American families before and after emanci¬pation, especially his illuminating insights on how they made claims on public space and property ownership through both movement and speech. Penningroth, , Claims of Kinfolk, pp. 98108, 144–150.

51. Bernardino d’Araujo, Fis. 102–102v. This may be what we call an opportunistic illness. It was also a common excuse in rural northeastern Brazil for not having done something.

52. Lucindo had previously been owned by Caetano Bcnto de Jesus Silvares, who presented the slave for registration on August 8, 1872; Lucindo sales record, ΑΝ/CA Fis. 186-186v.

53. “Interrogatòrio ao réu Lucindo,” March 2, 1882, ΑΝ/CA Fl. 175v.

54. Lucindo was sold in absentia to the slave-trading company Fonseca, Rios & Cia on June 27, 1877 for 1,500 ․000 (1,500 mil reis), and after its dissolution, to Domingos and Manoel Rios on July 15, 1880. CPSM Tabelionato Liv. 7 Fl. 304 and Liv. 11 Fl. 175.

55. Bernardino d’Araujo.

56. Troutman, Phillip, “Grapevine in the Slave Market: African American Geopolitical Literacy and the 1841 Creole Revolt,” in The Chattel Principle: Internal Slave Trades in the Americas, ed. Walter Johnson (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2004).

57. The quilombola Francisca, for example, states that their various settlements were always made in places close to vegetable gardens, where they could steal manioc. “Interrogatòrio da ré Francisca,” September 27, 1881, AN/CA Fl. 143v.

58. Benedito’s flight itineraries become more evident in 1884 when he becomes the target of renewed expeditions. See Miki, , “Insurgent Geographies,” pp. 299313.

59. Schwartz noted the abundance of mocambos in the frontier region of southern Bahia in the colo¬nial period due to lax military oversight, but by the late nineteenth century this was no longer the case. Schwartz, , “Rethinking Palmares,” pp. 105107.

60. There are snippets of evidence suggesting that maroons and Indians sometimes did join hands in attacking settlers, but the regularity is difficult to assess. Annual Report for the Tear 1881 by Manoel da Silva Mafra, CRL Ministry of Justice, 1881, p. 26; Eng. Lucrecio Augusto Marques Ribeiro to Dr. Manoel Buar-que dc Macedo, Minister of Agriculture, Commerce, and Public Works, May 27, 1881 ; Ministry of Justice to the President of Espirito Santo, July 26, 1881; and Marcellino d'Assis Fortes to Police Delegate of the Capi¬tal, August 8, 1881, APEES Polícia Ser. 2 Cx 72 Me 265 Fis. 152–156. For entradas (raids) of local settlers against indigenous villages, also in 1881, see Miki, pp. 181–185.

61. Important works addressing the value given by freedpeople to kinship and land ownership include Penningroth, Claims of Kinfolk; Filho, Fraga, Encruzilhadas da liberdade, pp. 245260; and Rios and Castro, Memorias do cativeiro. Fraga also discusses how freedpeople, whose new status was precarious, faced increased risk of police repression and criminalization the farther away they moved.

62. This expression comes from Johnson, Walter, Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999), pp. 7277.

63. Kelley, , Race Rebels, chapt. 2, especially pp. 3940.

64. The idea of freedom as a moving target, first proposed by Barbara Fields, has had a profound impact on studies of slavery, resistance, abolition, and freedom, including the works of Rebecca J. Scott and more recently Laurent Dubois in the United States and Sidney Chalhoub in Brazil. Fields, Barbara, Slavery and Free¬dom on the Middle Ground: Maryland During the Nineteenth Century (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1985); Dubois, Laurent, Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2004); Scott, Degrees of Freedom; Chalhoub, Visies da liberdade.

65. Barbara Bush makes this pronounced distinction in her seminal work, in which she argues that mar-ronage (in the British Caribbean) was primarily the practice of male, “unseasoned” plantation slaves who ran away to establish “free, autonomous communities.” Making autonomy the benchmark for a maroon commu¬nity, however, obscures their much more fluid realities. Bush, Barbara, Slave Women in Caribbean Society, 1650–1838 (Kingston, Jamaica & Bloomington: Heinemann Caribbean; Indiana University Press, 1990), p. 63.

66. Manoel Bahiano, Fl. 25.

67. “Interrogatòrio feito á ré Gertrudes” (Gertrudes interrogation hereafter), September 24, 1881, AN/CAFls. 140–141.

68. “Auto de perguntas feitas a Hortência, escrava de Dr. Raulino Francisco de Oliveira” (Hortência hereafter), September 3, 1881, ΑΝ/CA Fis. 78v-80v.

69. Vicentino’s owner, José Antonio de Faria, put him up as collateral for debt twice in May 1880 and again on February 8, 1881, to creditor Major Cunha, and the slave fled sometime around March. Ironically, Francisca and Ricarda fled with hopes to be purchased by the same man. CPSM Tabelionato Liv. 12 Fl. 8v and 11; Liv. 15 Fl. 24.

70. Rufina, Fis. 81–82.

71. Josepha, Fis. 10-11. Generally the literature that does discuss fugitive slave mothers describes them with small children.

72. “Auto de perguntas feitas a Ricarda, escrava de José Rodrigues de Souza Flores,” August 9, 1881, AN/CA Fl. 32; “Auto de perguntas feitas a Francisca, escrava de José Rodrigues de Souza Flores” (Francisca hereafter), August 9, 1881, AN/CA Fl. 45v.

73. “Interrogatorio ao réu Lucindo,” April 26, 1882, AN/CA Fl. 201v.

74. They are Vicentino and Rufina.

75. Again, the unitary vision of infrapolitics and “overt” politics is wonderfully captured in Kelley, Race Rebels, Introduction and chapt. 1.

76. “Interrogatorio feito ao réu escravo Manoel Bahiano,” September 26, 1881, ΑΝ/CA Fl. 135. As we may recall, he and Rogerio also believed Benedito to be guilty of the attack on Marcolina.

77. Vicentino, Fis. 49–52.

78. Manoel Bahiano, Fl. 25v.

79. Josepha, Fl. 11.

80. The struggle over women in maroon communities was noted in Price, Richard, Maroon Societies: Rebel Slave Communities in the Americas, 3rd ed. (Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 1819.

81. Moura, , Rebellées da senzala, pp. 227231; Rios and Castro, Memorias do cativeiro, pp. 195-204. In her section of the book, Lugào Rios demonstrates that landless rural populations suffered the most in post-emancipation Brazil. Itinerant, seasonal labor prevented them from amassing wealth and developing important kinship networks.

82. For literature on Brazilian quilombos, see n. 5 above. Women do not figure prominently in these studies, and when they do, they are generally depicted as kidnapping victims or noted only in passing. Barros Mott, Maria Lucia de, Submissào e resistencia: a mulher na luta contra a escravidâo (Sào Paulo: Editora Con¬texto, 1988), a book for undergraduate and general readership, offers a brief discussion of women quilombo¬las on pp. 4248.

83. Such views have been posited for example by Camp, Closer to Freedom, chapt. 2; White, Deborah Gray, Ar’n’t I a Woman?: Female Slaves in the Plantation South (New York: Norton, 1985); and Bush, , Slave Women, p. 65. Bush also discusses female maroons, but as fighters and spiritual leaders categorically separate from runaways. In their introduction to Women and Slavery, 2 vols. (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007), pp. 8-9, the editors, Gwyn Campbell, Suzanne Miers, and Joseph Calder Miller, cogently critique the implic¬itly male nature of ungendered slaves and consequentially of the common categories of slave resistance (sub¬mission, flight, revolt) but reinforce the idea that enslaved women rarely fled. On women and revolts, Lightfoot, Natasha, “‘Their Coats were Tied Up like Men’: Women Rebels in Antigua’s 1858 Uprising,” Slavery Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-Slave Studies 31:4 (2010), reinterprets the event by focusing on women participants and the gendered nature of revolt.

84. Works that have specifically focused on female flight and marronage include Price, Sally, Co-Wives and Calabashes, 2nd ed. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993), which highlights the gendered ten¬sions among Saramaka women and men; Beckles, Hilary, Natural Rebels: a Social History of Enslaved Black Women in Barbados (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1989), pp. 164169; and Krauthamcr, Barbara, “A Particular Kind of Freedom: Black Women, Slavery, Kinship, and Freedom in the American Southeast,” in Women and Slavery, eds. Campbell, Gwyn, Miers, Suzanne, and Miller, Joseph Calder (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007). A brief but important work recognizing long-term female marronage, and motherhood as a factor, is Véliz, Doreya Gómez, “Algunas reflexiones sobre el cimarronaje femenino en Cuba,” in Conferencia Internacional Presencia de Africa en America, eds. Antonio Núñez Jiménez / Comisión Cubana Conmemorativa del Encuentro de las Culturas del Viejo y del Nuevo Mundos (Havana: UNESCO, 1985).

85. Hortência was also pregnant while in flight, but the child she gave birth to died soon afterward. Rufina gave birth in May 1881, also as a quilombola, just a few months before her arrest. The fate of her child is unknown. Interrogatòrio feito á ré Hortência,” September 24, 1881, AN/CA FI. 124; “Autos de pergun¬tas feitas á Tereza Maria de Jesus,” August 6, 1881, AN/CA Fl. 53v. Of all the male quilombolas, we know only that Joào Carretào had a child, with Gertrudes. Since he was not questioned, we do not know whether his child or relationship with Gertrudes (her story below suggests they did not stay together) was a motivat¬ing factor.

86. As noted by Mahony and Sienes, after 1869, separating legally married couples and their children under 15 (later 12) became illegal. The Free Womb Law of 1871 declared the legal freedom of children born to enslaved mothers. Known as ingenuos, these children were placed under the “protection” of their mothers’ owners, and often the latter opted to keep these children’s “services” until they were 21. Mahony, , “Creativ¬ity Under Constraint,” pp. 643; on the Free Womb Law, see Cowling, Camillia, “Debating Womanhood, Defining Freedom: The Abolition of Slavery in 1880s Rio de Janeiro,” Gender History 22:2 (2010), pp. 286. Important recent works on enslaved women, families, and strategies for freedom in Brazil include Robert Sienes, W., Na senzala, uma flor: esperanças e recordacôes na formaçâo da familia escrava: Brasil Sudeste, século XIX (Rio de Janeiro: Editora Nova Fronteira, 1999); Rios and Castro, Memorias do cativeiro; Fraga Filho, Encruzilhadas da liberdade; Mahony, “Creativity under Constraint”; Furtado, Júnia Ferreira, Chica da Silva: A Brazilian Slave of the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009); Gomes, Flavio dos Santos, “Africans and Slave Marriages in Eighteenth-Century Rio de Janeiro,” The Amer¬icas 67:2 (2010); and Cowling, “Debating Womanhood.” Karasch, “Slave Women on the Brazilian Frontier,” is a rare and important study of enslaved women in frontier regions (Goiás) in the postcolonial period. Diana Paton’s bibliographic essay at the end of Gender and Slave Emancipation in the Atlantic World, eds. Scully, Pamela and Paton, Diana (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2005), pp. 347351, offers an excellent dis¬cussion of recent works on enslaved women and gender in Brazil.

87. “Auto de perguntas feito a Gertrudes, escrava de Francisco José de Faria” (Gertrudes hereafter), August 9, 1881, AN/CA Fis. 33v.

88. Mahony, , “Creativity Under Constraint,” p. 643. Sienes has also noted that larger plantations in the Paraiba Valley tended not to sell off their slaves, so slave families had a greater opportunity to stay intact. Slenes, , Na senzaln, pp. 107109.

89. Gertrudes, Fis. 33v-34v, and Gertrudes interrogation, Fis. 140-41v. It is unclear which child she had with Joào Carretào. For the quote, see Cowling, , “Debating Womanhood,” p. 296.

90. Even scholars who have recognized the importance of women maroons have noted the lack of work documenting gender relations among women and men; see for example Gomes, Flavio, Palmares: escravidao e liberdade no Atlàntico (Sào Paulo: Contexto, 2005), p. 81; Beckles, Hilary, Centering Woman: Gender Dis¬courses in Caribbean Slave Society (Kingston, Jamaica; Princeton, N.J.; and Oxford, U.K.: Ian Randle Pub¬lishers; M. Wiener; and James Currey Ltd., 1999), p. 167.

91. Hortência, Fl. 79. The contention that the hard work associated with being part of a maroon com¬munity acted as another deterrent for women to flee seems not to have been an issue here. The only related complaint was lodged by Rufina, as seen above, who was more discontented by the compensation than the labor itself. This labor-as-deterrent argument is made by editors Gwyn Campbell, Suzanne Miers, and Joseph Calder Miller in their introduction to Women and Slavery (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007), p. 10.

92. One of the best studies on labor and gender under slavery is Morgan, Jennifer L., Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004). Stuart Schwartz’s analysis of the quilombolas of Sant’Anna, mentioned in n. 5, also demonstrates their gendering of labor. Schwartz, “Resistance and Accommodation.”

93. Francisca, Fl. 46v.

94. Vicentino, Fis. 51v-52.

95. A full discussion of Marcolina’s case falls outside the scope of this article. She may have been a potential kidnap victim, but that does not explain why the quilombolas tried to kill her when she resisted. Perhaps Marcolina was hiding something from the police about her involvement with her attackers, or it may have been a performance of terror that could victimize enslaved women as much as free people.

96. These events are discussed in greater detail in Miki, “Insurgent Geographies,” chapts. 5 and 6.

97. For more on Palmares, see n. 5.

FLEEING INTO SLAVERY: The Insurgent Geographies of Brazilian Quilombolas (Maroons), 1880-1881

  • Yuko Miki (a1)


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