Defender Nosso Pedaço de Chão: Quilombola Struggles in Bahia Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Bledsoe, Adam
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geography
  • This research examines the territorial understandings and practices of three “quilombo” communities in the state of Bahia, Brazil, as they seek to protect their way of life amidst a series of land grabs enacted by public and private actors. These quilombos, which were started by slaves and runaway slaves over two hundred years ago, are located in the Bay of Aratu—an area that took on national importance as a site of industry and shipping in the mid-20th century. Because of this, the communities have spent nearly sixty years struggling to defend their territories against the enclosures, environmental degradation, and irreversible topographical changes that typify state, military, and industrial presence in the area. While the tactics and discourses employed by the quilombos reflect the realities of present-day Brazil and attend to the shortcomings of the country’s “progressive” government, I argue that the quilombola struggle is part of a much larger legacy of Black Geographies. I define Black Geographies as the spatial expressions of those that recognize the inherent violence of modern territorial practices and notions of human hierarchy and seek to create a world not defined in these exclusive terms. Using qualitative and participatory methods, I explore the ways in which the Quilombos from the Bay of Aratu analyze the oppressive qualities of Brazil’s prevailing political and economic climate and how the communities’ own territorial arrangements work to protect against these violent expressions while simultaneously creating geographies that value and promote Black life.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Caldwell, Kia
  • Reyes, Alvaro
  • Smith, Sara
  • Cravey, Altha
  • Gokariksel, Banu
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2016

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