Interesting issues emerged in the session Quilombos and maroons of the Americas

The session Quilombos and maroons of the Americas: mirror of differences held at the XXXVIII International Americanistic Studies Congress was very good. The panelists’ contributions were diverse and complementary and shed light on different facets of the matter, with different approach and point of view.

I summarize here some of the most interesting issues emerged in the session. What follows is drawn from the panelists speeches, but it’s my personal re-interpretation and thus it doesn’t express the view or the opinion of the panelists themselves 1.

1) The Brazilian Government stance toward the quilombola issue is insufficient: the pace of the quilombo recognition is too slow, too few quilombo gained the land title from the time where this law was established (three of four paper were about Brazilian quilombo; this point refers to Brasil, while the other one also to maroons in other Latin American countries) 2.

2) The people who recognise themselves as indio, or quilombola, or one of the the different kind of “traditional peoples” (povos tradicionais), do not feel fitting “strictly” in this definition (as the law states and sometime the academic characterization wants). In fact, historically, and even today, there is a circulation between these different categories, and many people think to belong to more than one of these ones. That doesn’t means that these categories are insignificant os specious, but that could be useful, both in the research and in the policies, to take account of the very permeable boundaries, and the intertwining of these sets.

3) The dialogue between research on the contemporary and on the historical quilombo could shed new light in both the fields. This is not true in the most predictable form of cooperation: finding the historical roots of the contemporary quilombo, because in most of the cases the ancient traces of the historical quilombo were wiped out by emargination, displacement, migration. On the contrary, the relation between the two field of research could focus on comparison; indeed, many issues at stake in the ancient quilombo are also present in the contemporary ones, as, for example, the conflict and the intertwining with indigenous people.

4) The relationship between quilombola, on one part, and the black movement, on the other, is a complex one. Most quilombola doesn’t identify themselves with the black movement – or event they aren’t fully aware of it; at the same time, the black movement, although it recognises the quilombola to be part of a common root, it reproaches them the moderation and the non identification to some cultural standards.

  1. Some or all of the paper presented will be published in the proceedings of the Congress.
  2. The new government, lead by the interim president Michel Temer, will be very likely significantly worse than the previous one. For example, the quilombo matters will be in charge of the Ministry of Culture, with far less relevance than within the Instituto Nacional de Colonizaçao Agraria (the body in charge of the land matters); the Ministry of Culture, José Mendonça Bezerra Filho, belongs to the DEM party, traditionally adverse to quilombola territory recognition. Beside that, the new government abolished the Ministério das Mulheres, da Igualdade Racial e dos Direitos Humanos (Ministry of Women, Racial Equality and Human Rights).

“Quilombo e maroons of America” session programme


Friday, May the 6th, 8.30 am

Sala del Consiglio Comunale, Palazzo dei Priori, Corso Vannucci 19 – Perugia, Italy

Session “Quilombos and maroons of the Americas: mirror of differences”

Véronique Boyer (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France)
presents Os antropólogos e os quilombolas: discursos eruditos, intervenções práticas, interpretações locais

Charles Beatty-Medina (Department of History, University of Toledo, United States)
presents Africans in Native Garb, the legacy of marronage in the early Spanish Americas

Eliane Cantarino O’Dwyer (Departamento de Antropologia, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brasil)
presents Profetismos e práticas de cura: saber tradicional dos remanescentes de quilombo de Oriximiná-PA

Aderval Costa Filho (Departamento de Antropologia e Arqueologia, Faculdade de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brasil)
presents Quilombos no Brasil: processos identitários, territoriais, políticas de desenvolvimento e proteção/ omissão do Estado

Mary Kenny (Eastern Connecticut State University, United States)
presents Identity, place and minor narratives: quilombolas in the sertão of northeast Brazil

Congress programme here.

Invite to the session “Quilombo and maroons of America” of the International Americanistic Studies Congress

The sessions of the International Americanistic Studies Congress are published: among them, one regarding quilombo I proposed. Below the session abstract. The Circolo Amerindiano has organized the Congress for 38 years. This years will take place in Perugia (Italy), as usual, in May, 3rd to 10th.

The registration to the session is open and will close January the 20th. It could be done by this form.

Quilombo and maroons of America: mirror of differences

All America is characterized by the presence of afro-descendants communities today, peculiar for their collective nature and for their relation with the surrounding society, alternately of isolation or opposition- besides never absolute and definitive. These communities are called in different ways: quilombo, palenque, mocambo, etc..

These communities differ a lot, for exogenous reasons (for example the circumstances in which the slave-labour has been introduced in the region, the peculiarities of the national societies in which they are, the characters of pre-Colombian peoples) and for endogenous reasons (the circumstances of the community formation, their organisation, etc.).

Some questions are transversal to different contexts and they represent interesting points of reflection; we indicate, in particular:
– the tension that quilombo people have experienced between, at the one hand, the spur to the inclusion in the surrounding society, and, on the other hand, the differentiation from this society;
– the relation and the connections between the quilombo of the past and the quilombo of the present;
– the articulation between quilombo’s self-affirmation, access to resources (especially the land) and reparation;
– the relation between quilombo’s immaterial culture, the surrounding society’s one and the national society’s one.

In this session some case-studies are presented. They concern quilombo of various places in which they are present, and the above mentioned questions are discussed.

Women in her backyard. Cangume village, Itaóca municipality, Vale do Ribeira, São Paulo state, Brazil (c) Luca Fanelli/ ISA
Women in her backyard. Cangume village, Itaóca municipality, Vale do Ribeira, São Paulo state, Brazil (c) Luca Fanelli/ ISA

(Italiano) Sistema di produzione agricolo e patrimonio culturale immateriale

” width=”300″ height=”225″ /> [/caption]La trasformazione in patrimonio culturale immateriale del sistema di produzione agricolo dei quilombo è stato l’argomento di una delle tavole rotonde (cfr.; questo processo è molto importante ed interessante, nell’ottica della valorizzazione di un sistema di produzione che rischia di perdersi, sia per pressioni esterne (principalmente gli impedimenti legali all’uso del fuoco), sia interne.

E’ significativo che, dei 180 beni immateriali individuati nell’Inventário Cultural de Quilombos do Vale do Ribeira, il primo ad essere stato scelto per avanzare nel processo di riconoscimento, sia il sistema di produzione agricolo tradizionale.

Le implicazioni e le sfide della costruzione dell’inventario della cultura immateriale dei quilombo della Vale do Ribeira sono state oggetto del mio intervento al XXXVII Convegno internazionale di americanistica (Perugia, maggio 2015), di cui riporto qui sotto le slide.
” width=”300″ height=”225″ /> [/caption]A patrimonialização do sistema de produção agricola dos quilombos foi assunto de uma das mesas redondas (cfr.; este processo é muito importante e interessante, visando a valorização de um sistema de produção que está em risco de extinção, quer por pressões externas (principalmente os impedimentos legais ao uso do fogo), quer internas.

É relevante que, dos 180 bens imateriais levantados no Inventário Cultural de Quilombos do Vale do Ribeira, o escolhido para avançar no processo de patrimonialização, seja o sistema de produção agrícola tradicional.

O sentido e os desafios da construção do inventário da cultura imaterial dos quilombos do Vale do Ribeira foram o assunto da minha apresentação no XXXVII Congresso Internacional de Americanística (Perugia, maio de 2015). Em baixo os eslaides.

Incentives and impediments in conservation of Euterpe edulis Mart. in quilombolas communities from Ribeira Valley

Juçara inventory
Juçara inventory. Jan. 2010. Credit: Luca Fanelli/ ISA

This paper analyzes the results of an Atlantic Forest enriched with seeds from palm juçara in Quilombo Communities in the Ribeira Valley – SP, as well as the difficulties and bottlenecks involved in implementation of sustainable management of this species. The work was constructed from field survey of populations of the palm and also in workshops and participant observation. The results indicate the need for improving incentives in public policy and in collective management of natural resource.

Luca A. Fanelli, Nilto I. Tatto, Eduardo P. C. Gomes, Clovis J. Oliveira Jr., Incentivos e impedimentos na conservação de Euterpe edulis Mart. em comunidades quilombolas do Vale do Ribeira, «Revista Brasileira de Agroecologia», 7(2): 51-62.

Full text in Portuguese.

The differentiation of the Brazilian peasantry and its struggles for citizenship

Group of peasants debates during a workshop of the "juçara network". Quilombo of Campinho (Rio de Janeiro). 2010. Credits: Luca Fanelli/ ISA/ Rede Juçara
Group of peasants debates during a workshop of the “juçara network”. Quilombo of Campinho (Rio de Janeiro). 2010. Credits: Luca Fanelli/ ISA/ Rede Juçara

The following abstract I submitted was accepted for the session Margins centrality and new forms of citizenship of the XXXIV Convegno Internazionale di Americanistica (Perugia 2012):

 The differentiation of the Brazilian peasantry and its struggles for citizenship

Abstract: The struggle for agrarian reform, from the Seventies of the XX century, involved a wide range of social and political actors and fostered a new citizenship for rural (and urban) marginalized people. During the Nineties, within the rural arena, struggles of a new kind rose; their ground wasn’t any more a concept of “class”, as it is the case for the above mentioned struggles. In particular, the actors claimed the land based on: a) a specific relationship with natural resources (related to ecology and sustainable development) and b) the historical debt the nation contracted with the former afro-descendant slaves (remanescentes de quilombos).

This session will be held in Perugia, Wednesday, March the 9th, 2012.

Food security and sustainable development in Brazil… by the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources

The Instituto Socioambiental applied for the Benefit-sharing Fund of the International Treaty on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The project title is: “Food security and sustainable development in Brazil, and, in particular, among the indigenous and traditional people of Xingu and Ribeira basins, by the conservation and sustainable us of plant genetic resources” and will involve directly more than 160 smallholders.

I contributed to the proposal writing.

We suggest the following documents, in order to have deeper understanding on the issues addressed in the project:

* FAO (2010). The Second Report on the State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Roma.

* Mariante, A. d. S., M. J. A. Sampaio, et al., Eds. (2009). State of the Brazil’s plant genetic resources. Second national report. Brasília, Embrapa – Ministério da Agricultura.

* FAO (2010). The State of Food Insecurity in the World. Addressing food insecurity in protracted crises. Roma.

* IBGE (2006). Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicílios. Segurança Alimentar 2004. Rio de Janeiro.

Landraces fair, now reaching the S. Paulo state

The idea of a fair of landraces exchange in the S. Paulo State rose within the Seed workgroup of the Council of Organic Production of the S. Paulo State (CPOrg/SP). The Instituto Kairós (of São Paulo) and the Instituto Socioambiental (ISA) organized the Fair, with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Centro Paula Souza (body responsible for the professional training in the State).

Beyond organizing the fair, the Seed workgroup is discussing the forthcoming legislation about organic seeds.

Landraces fair in S. Paulo. Foto by Luca Fanelli / ISA

The I Feira de troca de sementes tradicionais/ crioulas do Estado de São Paulo took place in November the 4th, 2010, in the Espaço Cultural Tendal da Lapa. Participated to the event: Ribeira Valley quilombola (afro-descendant), farmers from Cunha (who, supported by the Serracima NGO, orgnized too a landraces exchange fair), from Botucatu, Ibitinga and Pederneiras (invited by the Associação Biodinâmica), from Itaberà (Coapri co-operative); from the Fazenda Figueira (Minas Gerais), from the S. Paulo metropolitan region (especially from the Embu das Artes and Parelheiros neighborhood).

On the stalls you could find more than 150 etnovarieties of seeds and seedlings: many varieties of maize and beans, not many of rice (these, from the Ribeira Valley and from Cunha), some vegetables varieties (20 from a farmer of Ibitinga, some others from Cunha), seeds and seedlings of different kinds of trees, seedlings of sweet potato, cará, sugar cane and cassava, mainly from the Ribeira Valley.

The fair showed the great wealth of realities within the State, working with landraces. At the same time, demonstrated the challenges to strengthen the event, as the involvement of other groups and the improvement of the number of etnovarieties, especially of the less represented species.

But the main challenge is actually to strengthen the groups engaged with the conservation and use of landraces, that has to bear on the farmers’ commitment and on suitable public policies, as recommended in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.