Debates in Latin American Social Theory

Afro-Latin American Geographies of In-betweenness- Ana Laura Zavala Guillén

Entry Questions

What historical and cultural perspectives from the video stood out?

The people of San Basilio de Palenque understand their history as part of an ongoing global struggle. Why?

San Basilio de Palenque as a case study of syncretism, geographical and political negotiation

“Essentialized visions of Maroon communities have been challenged by describing them as complex worlds with fluid interests and solidarities, as well as collaborations with colonialists and slaveholders, and reproduction of practices of slavery with newcomers to the communities. In San Basilio de Palenque’s case, there exist historical and linguistic approaches critical of its essentialized vision as an Africa in Colombia. These approaches envisage the community as influenced by elements other than the African. Maglia and Moñino have defined the community and its local palenquero language as ‘creole products’ that hybridized Spanish with languages from Angola, Congo, and other Central-West African places. This assertion aligns with the historians’ notion of Maroon communities as syncretic spaces. For example, other subaltern subjects such as fugitive indigenous people and fugitive women of mixed African, European, and indigenous backgrounds also joined the palenque, whose presence in this territory contributed to its subversive and diverse aspect.” (Page 16)

The Goals of the research and the article

Historian and geographer Ana Laura Zavala Guillen in her article challenges idealized views on cimarronaje. She questions arguments that understand palenques as fully “independent Black territories in defiance of the colonial regime.” She explains that these spaces were understood “as detached portions from Africa that resisted Whiteness in the so-called new world in colonial times.”

For Zavala Guillen palenques or maroon communities demonstrated that another life was possible for Africans and their descendants beyond being conquered and enslaved however they survived by navigating in-between different colonial forms of producing territory that simultaneously implied opposition and co-optation. (Page 13)

Class Presentation (s)

Cruz,Valerie L



Territory: an appropriated space for achieving political purposes. Such navigation recalls notions that embrace opposition and fissure between disparate elements without suppressing or reconciling them. (Page 16)

Ch’ixi: is a colour, an entity, and a place. As a colour, from afar, ch’ixi looks grey, but in proximity, it is a juxtaposition of black and white spots that do not mix. Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui uses these analogies to explain the juxtaposition of the indigenous and the Spanish elements. The mestizo identity, is a place of uncertainty, friction, and constraint. No pacification or unity is possible. Both sides exist precisely because of their unsolvable and hierarchical (one side can be more prevalent than the other) opposition born out of the colonial situation. (Page 16)

Borderlands: In Gloria Anzaldúa’s work, the borderland is the world of the chicana/mestiza that grows where the United States and Mexico meet. To live in the borderland is to be on both sides of the border at the same time as a mestiza. The borderland concept allows a permanent transgression that is continually performed without getting lost in the transit/navigation between these two antagonist worlds. (Pages 16-17)

Group Discussions:

Afro-Latin American Geographies of In-betweenness- A. L. Zavala Guillen

How do the “Ch’ixi” and “Borderlands” theories help us understand the following statements?

.”The Maroon territory was a clandestine territory aligned formally and strategically with the Catholic faith.” (Page 18)

. “Apart from creating strategic alliances and offering subjection in exchange for freedom and lands, there were other reasons for the palenque’s survival” (Page 19)

.palenques “jeopardised slavery, and this was a reason why the colonial regime negotiated its incorporation in the system as an isolated poblazion.” (Page 20)