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The People of the RiverNature and Identity in Black Amazonia, 1835-1945$
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Oscar de la Torre

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469643243

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469643243.001.0001

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Two Stories about Rivers, People, and Politics

(p.1) Introduction
The People of the River

Oscar de la Torre

University of North Carolina Press

The introduction argues that despite the changes set in motion by the constitutional Article 68, passed in 1988 in Brazil to recognize black rural communities as the recipient of special rights and recognition, a number of discourses and practices inherited from past generations continue to be a source of identity for the black peasants of Brazil. Dating from the era of slavery, such traditions have subsisted embedded in the landscape in the form of agro-ecological strategies, political discourses, and even relationships with political and economic elites. They have not resulted in hard ethnic boundaries sharply separating black peasants from other rural Brazilians, but rather have been part of a flexible toolbox of strategies and narratives inscribed on the landscape and used in moments of conflict over land, labor, and citizenship. While the relationships between black rural communities and the natural world have been largely overlooked as a vehicle for the maintenance of an Afro-Brazilian identity, this book is devoted to unearthing their existence, interrogating their relevance, and putting them in dialogue with the broader history of slavery and its legacies in post-emancipation Brazil. Finally, the introduction also outlines the basic data and chronology of the slave trade to Amazonia.

Keywords:   slave trade, Amazonia, Quilombos, black rural communities, Afro-Brazil, identity black peasants

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