Debates in Latin American Social Theory

Asynchronous Assignment on Afro-Latin American Geographies of In-betweenness

Asynchronous Assignment


1. Read the essay “Afro-Latin American Geographies of In-betweenness: Colonial Marronage in Colombia” by Ana Laura Zavala Guillen. Pay special attention to pages 18-22.

2. Pick ONE of the following prompts and respond in the comment section down below. The deadline is 2/23 before the class. 200-word minimum.


Discuss the negotiations and complex alliances between maroon communities in Colombia and the Catholic Church.


Why does the author, Zavala Guillen argue that the conversion (co-optation) of Palenques from clandestine spaces to a poblazion (a town) was beneficial to some formerly enslaved people but also to the Spanish colonial authorities? How does the incorporation of palenques by colonial powers obstructed Black mobilization?


What elements of defiance continued after the transition from Palenques to towns according to the author Zavala Guillen?


Respectfully interact with ONE of your classmates’ responses. Do you agree with their arguments and interpretations? Do you disagree? What other observations about “Afro-Latin American Geographies of In-betweenness” do you want to bring into the discussion?

6 thoughts on “Asynchronous Assignment on Afro-Latin American Geographies of In-betweenness”

  1. Option two:
    The Afro-Latin American geographies of in-betweenness: Colonial marronage in Colombia article by Ana Laura Zavala Guillen explores geographical and historical data of Maroon spatialities from the seventeenth and eighteen centuries. The author through her article agrees to the existence as well as the beneficial importance of a “poblazion”. A poblazion can be defined as a town or a geographical space formed and inhabited by those who fled a life of slavery, known as Palenques in Colombia, in colonial times. The benefit of living as part of a poblazion was rewarding because slaves were legally free. Plus they had the opportunity to live and socialize with people who have gone through slavery providing a sense of understanding between the members of a Palenque poblazion.
    The benefit of having a poblazion was also extended to the Spanish colonial authorities because the existence of a secure place for freed fugitives avoided future conflict or disputes. Therefore, the incorporation of palenques interfered with the Black mobilization because as stated in a quote “the combination of Blackness and lack of passivity was uncomfortable for the white elites, which led to the suppression of the stories of revolting, enslaved people.” Blackness was a “broader” topic to discuss for white supremacy because of the African history behind it while Maroons were formed by complex histories that gave the possibility of involving white and black.

    1. Hi Daysi, I agree that the benefits of having a poblazion not only benefitted the Maroons but also benefitted the Spanish colonial authorities. I think that the pros and cons of the poblazion can be clearly seen with the 1714 Peace Agreement. This agreement allowed the Maroons to retain more political power and it also allowed the poblazion or palenque to become a town. However, this agreement also had its bad side. During the reading I came across this quote, “Following the 1714 peace agreement, the poblazion of San Basilio de Palenque became a perfect example of a ch’ixi/border world. A poblazion had two sides: it was at once a place for some to realise their freedom, and also an enclave where they were formally isolated to protect white property, blocking further flight and rebellion that could have threatened slavery in the Province of Cartagena in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. As explained above, the process of isolating Blackness was both induced and sought in the Colombian Caribbean” (pg 20). As we can see, the agreement was also created to protect white property as the Spanish colonial authorities didn’t want the Maroons using their buildings or stores. Another con is that this came with segregation, it was obvious that the people in power wanted to do the most they could to separate their communities from the Maroons. Lastly, the agreement undermined the Maroon’s autonomy.

  2. We see the relationship between the Catholic and the maroon communities in Colombia be strong through having a priest and still following the religion. However, it is different with their religion being focused more on a saint and that was who the church was dedicated to. To continue, when the Palenques where granted their freedom we see that the priest kept his name and the author mentions how it was for people to continue on their faith, since they might be name after him. This interesting since we see how Catholicism is being used to unite the community and it was a way for colonizers to justify what they doing to the land and to the communities. We see how religion has impacted the communities who were involved in the coming to the New World and how Catholicism has had that success over creating faith over these communities, but how the people have taken it and reclaim it to their own way and own version of it. Similar to what can be said when we look at Mexico and the Virgen de Guadalupe, and how that has become a religious figure for the people in this country.

    1. Hi Diego,
      I agree with the points you’ve made and I wanted to expand the idea of a strong relationship between Catholicism and the maroon communities. On page 19, we are introduced to Rafael Castillo who is a Catholic priest. He is very honored that there is a displaced community in Colombia named after him called Rafael de La Bonguita. Rafael Castillo would help these communities to relocate safely after being forced out in 2001. On page 19 it states, “Phrases such as, ‘They would only leave their hiding places in the presence of the Bishop’, give an example of their relationship with the Catholic authorities.” The relationship with Catholic authorities was strong.

    2. Creating Unity In As A Form
      I completely agree with what you shared. I would even add a couple of questions and ideas that came to me as I touched upon that part of the reading. I found that a uniformed religion was in a way a form of Maroon communities to bond and survive while pushing fourth a new expansion on growth. In terms of business strategy it was a way to humanize themselves and open their doors into new arguments of freedom.
      However, I also did think about the explicit after math of still keeping a religion that was built on justifying colonialism. The only way I could find a person being able to reconstruct that train of thought is by decontexlizing the historical figures of these narratives and being truthful about one’s history and connection to a new form of that religion. I would also add that we would even have to address that narrative even further; by pushing forward to narrative and truth of where this religion originated from because it is in essence a train of thought that can be configured outside of proportion.
      None the less I would add say that we also need to pose the question: is this religion still pushing colonial thought and if so how can we reconfigure that?

  3. I agree with Diego about the strong bond between catholicism and the maroons. He also mentioned how they have a saint for a church and stick strictly to the church for each as well as keeping the name so the faith continues on with them. I found this part of the reading to be relatable in my culture where we are very big on the saint of our town, and we say the founder of our town is this saint himself. I am from a small town in Oaxaca, Mexico where the majority of the people living in towns as so would hosts annual parties for the saint, to know that their legacy will always live on. The saint is also named after the town. Therefore I found the reading to be very close to home talking about catholicism, as Mexicans we value our faith and spirituality.

Comments are closed.