O outro lado da Independência: Quilombolas, negros e pardos em Pernambuco (Brazil), 1817–23

Marcus J. M. de Carvalho


This paper focuses on maroonage in the province of Pernambuco’s plantation zone during Brazil’s Independence era. The evidence indicates that the activities of maroons influenced the course of local politics. Masters frequently armed their slaves and involved them in local disputes for power. Slaves also participated alongside the free non-white population in urban uprisings often triggered by conflicts between local elites. At least on one occasion, urban “rabble” freed captured maroons from the hands of authorities. For their part, maroons were aware of the vicissitudes of local politics because factional disputes influenced the forces of repression arrayed against them. The actions of maroons fueled elite fears that their nation could become a second Haiti where a successful slave revolt might topple Brazil’s fledgling constitutional monarchy. The actions of maroons influenced the decisions of the local elites, pushing them to support the most conservative political option in those years, the formation of a highly centralized imperial monarchy with its capital in distant Rio de Janeiro. Scholars often credit the ubiquitious institution of slavery as a major factor that ultimately united elites from farflung provinces across Brazil under a single national government, unlike her Spanish American neighbors, and, based on the case of Pernambuco, this paper suggests that maroonage played an analogous but less commonly recognized role in shaping Brazil’s unique political history in this period.


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