Monday, April 1, 2013

The Amazon as Refuge

Charles Mann and Susanna Hecht wrote this article for National Geographic describing maroon communities in the Amazon: places where escaped slaves, native Americans, and their children created settlements and societies outside of the reach of colonial society. In another part of the world, James Scott writes about places where groups of people escape the reach of various states (from China, from Southeast Asia, from South Asia) and create their own social order. Some of his strongest arguments are that political institutions, farming practices, social organization, even literacy might be part of strategies for living without the state, or in opposition to the state. In Southeast Asia, mountains and forests are the kinds of terrain that make the region remote. In the Amazon, it would be the forest and the swamp. Whether it fits with a global model, maroon communities are a significant part of the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th century Amazon. Could there have been pre-Columbian analogies to modern maroon communities?

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