Debates in Latin American Social Theory

Asynchronous Screening and Assignment on Quilombo and Maroon Logics

Asynchronous Assignment


1. Watch the film Quilombo (Carlos Diegues, 1984) through Baruch’s Library or Amazon .

2. Read the essay “Maroon Logics as Flight from the Euromodern” by Pedro Lebrón Ortiz.

3. Pick ONE of the following prompts and respond in the comment section down below. The deadline is 3/2 before the class. 200-word minimum.


Pedro Lebrón Ortiz affirms that “the enslaved, whose humanity was denied by slavery, did not simply deny slavery, but rather first affirmed his/her humanity and by means of that affirmation denied the institution that denied his/her humanity.” (Page 6)

In which ways does the film Quilombo shows maroons’ practices as an affirmation of their humanity? Refer to specific scenes, songs, choreographies, or ideas presented by the film.


Lebrón Ortiz defines marronage as “a distinct manner of embodying freedom inasmuch as it was a struggle for life and an affirmation of a way of life within the material limits of the sociopolitical context of the enslaved. Enslaved subjects of African descent collaborated and mixed in with indigenous subjects in solidarity, which resulted in the development of new practices and institutions. This combining of cultural elements was caused by the sociopolitical context in which both groups, with all their complexity and diversity, faced annihilation.” (Page 3)

How does the film Quilombo illustrate this definition? Refer to specific scenes, songs, choreographies, or ideas presented by the film.


“Freedom can be conceived of as an existential state of Being in which one rejects the imposition of foreign archetypes by means of an affirmation of one’s own world. Marronage is flight from Euromodernity itself. Maroon logics … break down notions of individualism, the foundational fallacy of Euromodernity, in the sense that maroon logics are guided by the primacy of the community for the sake of survival.” (Page 10-11)

Discuss how in Quilombo the community becomes a central character that works towards a free space separated from the colonial government. Refer to specific scenes, songs, choreographies, or ideas presented by the film.


Respectfully interact with ONE of your classmates’ responses. Do you agree with their arguments and interpretations? Do you disagree? What other observations about Quilombo and/or “Maroon Logics as Flight from the Euromodern” do you want to bring into the discussion?

8 thoughts on “Asynchronous Screening and Assignment on Quilombo and Maroon Logics”

  1. In the film Quilombo maroons’ practices as an affirmation of their humany is shown from the beginning of the film and throughout the different scenes captured. For example, when they revolted we see how the person being tortured was saying he prefer to die, because the conditions that he was living in because of slavery were cruel and harsh. Ganga Zumba brings this new idea to the community when he saw the man suffering, and decided to help him. Here we see how people weren’t in favor of Ganga Zumba to take this action because they knew the consequences of his actions would have on him. However, he instead mentions that he isn’t a slaved and that he is not going to let them have power over him, and affirms to people that if they come together they would grow stronger. Moreover, in the film we see how they have been able to find that humanity in them with their own cultures thriving and being able to express themselves.

    1. I would definitely add that given the agreements they made with each other it was a way if captivating a series of people to continue to go against themselves. A community that accepts their own form of being would essentially committ to continuing to cultivate their traditions and their believes. However, I also see two end of the spectrums. Was there a way to gain freedom and build themselves as a civilization and then push forward continuing to grow outside of themselves.

  2. Lebron Ortiz shared his definition of marronage to his readers through a powerful quote that states that marronage is a manner of fighting and embodying freedom for African descent based on a sociopolitical context. To illustrate the analysis of this quote, I was requested to watch the film “Quilombo” which shows the reality of a 17th-century settlement founded by people of African origins who had escaped from their Portuguese masters. The film presents Ganga Zumba and Zumbi as the leaders of quilombo respectively. I believe people from Quilombo embody their freedom by practicing their own cultural activities with their people. To illustrate a way of embodying freedom, people from Quilombo honor and respect their culture by painting their bodies with mostly blue and yellow colors as well as spreading oils in their forehead as protection against evil. Singing songs that cheer the people of Quilombo up are the getaways from the past. Showing children to join forces when white masters attack them are the survival actions that pass from generation to generation as shown in the film. Also, feeling angry and powerless after losing a member of Quilombo are their day-to-day sufferings, but they also have faith in their gods to mourn and bury their people. A sociopolitical point can be linked to how masters introduced their own laws to the system in order to force people from Quilombo to become slaves again. The purpose of it was to avoid a Dutch-Portuguese war. Unfortunately, war and the destruction of Quilombo was the “ideal action” to do in which they ended up killing the leaders of Quilombo. However, former slaves have always fought to conserve their place and to keep feeling free by practicing their culture with no limits.

  3. “Marronage was a distinct manner of embodying freedom inasmuch as it was a struggle for life and an affirmation of a way of life within the material limits of the sociopolitical context of the enslaved” (3). At the beginning of the film, “Quilombo,” the enslaved people are brought to Santa Rita. However, other enslaved people hiding in the bushes came out and attacked those who bought enslaved people to be free and go to Palmares. “The land of the free men. Where black men run, who don’t want to be slaves” (Scene 7:23-7:29). While Zumbi and most people went to Palmares, Aroba and some wanted to go home across the sea. Acroterion, the leader of people in Palmares, retires and makes Zumbi their new leader. Zumbi wants nothing to do with the Portuguese, while Ganga Zumba wants to negotiate and give them what they want. However, both Zumba and Zumbi die, but Zumbi’s death signifies that the people of Palmares should keep going, while Zumba’s death did not because they did not like the way Zumba did things.

  4. In the film “Quilombo” the practices of an affirmation of their humanity are shown throughout the film I would say. We are faced with many parts of the film where the people are gathered together to make a decision as to fight or stay put. There is a part in the film specifically where they make a decision to go with Ganga Zumba to Palmares to fight for what is theirs as in taking the risk of staying with Zumbi at the place they were with. The group was 50/50 because of the lack of trust within Zumba, they all took a vote on what was best and ultimately agreed that Palmares is their home and no matter who is there they will always fight for it. The situation of Palmares overall is an affirmation of their humanity because it is home to them and they will do anything to defend what is theirs no matter the price they pay.

    1. I definitely agree that not leaving Palmares was a strong example of affirming their humanity. I also agree that in the film, they affirmed their humanity in a variety of ways. Like you mentioned, their instinct to always fight for their rights and their land is a prime example of denying the institutions that denied their humanity. Another example of this is the scene where Zumbi returns, and is being shown the community and he is observing their lifestyle. The fact that they were able to create their own environment where they felt safe to practice their traditions and culture openly shows the efforts that went into affirming their humanity. Having to not only fight their way out of slavery and the institutions they were forced into, but recreating a society in which it’s members feel safe and are valued, is not an easy task. Yet those in the film were able to do that, all while working together during challenging times to ensure that their humanity was never denied again. Characters within the film constantly repeat that they will never be slaves again, and they showed that they would not allow for others to not only enslave them in a literal sense, but they would not allow for their institutions to have an effect on the way things were run in Palmares.

      1. From the beginning of the film, their humanity is present as they do whatever they can to stick together and fight their masters. Although their masters were the ones who were in power, the maroons had faith in themselves and I think that this faith shows humanity. Additionally, I agree that being able to create a new and safe environment shows an important aspect of humanity. It shows us that regardless of all of the difficulties and traumas they went through, they were still able to create their own joyous traditions like their music, dances, and more. This reminds me of this quote from the reading which states, ” In the context of Puerto Rico, Baralt states that there was a great amount of social cohesion amongst bozales that facilitated the planning of revolts (162). It is also well known that enslaved subjects in Puerto Rico would often coordinate revolts through bomba music and dance” (Lebron Ortiz, 11). This quote shows how enslaved people connected through their traditions such as bomba music. Not only that but they would also communicate through them and create strategic attacks against those who hurt them. Although they were enslaved, they still had their humanity and it’s obvious from this quote.

  5. In “Quilombo”, the people stuck together. In the beginning of the film we see that they came together and fought their masters so that they could escape and live a free life. Some people wanted to go back to Africa but they decided that Palmares was their home. The maroons’ practices as an affirmation of humanity are shown throughout the film as they stuck together. There were specific scenes were the Portuguese were coming to attack them and kidnap the children but they fought back as a group and were victorious. When ganga Zumba became the leader, we see that the maroons’ went with him to Palmares to take back what was rightfully theirs. They created an environment where they felt same and united. They were freed to do whatever they wanted which was new to some people since they were enslaved for most of their slaves while some were born into slavery.

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