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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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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 27 September 2021

I Do Not Buy My Freedom Because I Am Not a Fool

I Do Not Buy My Freedom Because I Am Not a Fool

Environmental Creolization and the Erection of Communities in the Senzalas, 1850–1888

(p.51) Chapter Three I Do Not Buy My Freedom Because I Am Not a Fool
The People of the River

Oscar de la Torre

University of North Carolina Press

The first part of the chapter analyzes the different paths by which slaves acquired environmental knowledge: importing skills and strategies from equatorial Africa, acquiring knowledge when doing agricultural work in plantations and farms, and maintaining interethnic contacts with Indians. As they learned the ways of local peasants, the enslaved gradually built entire parallel economies with vigorous ties to the expanding network of commercial houses that existed in late nineteenth-century Amazonia. Instead of using the term “internal economy of slavery,” I conceptualize them as an economy that ran parallel to that of their masters, given the size and complexity of the commercial networks in which the slaves participated. The chapter also describes the process of community formation inside the slave quarters at the time of Amazonia’s rubber boom, which had both a positive and negative impact on the prospects of Amazonia’s black slaves. On the one hand, it made it possible for them to expand their parallel economy. On the other hand, that slaves could carry out such a broad scope of activities meant that the slaveowners could adapt to the changes of the era. In Amazonia slavery was just like rubber: flexible and adaptable to multiple conditions – hence its durability.

Keywords:   environmental creolization, slave community, slave demography, slavery, Amazonia, transition to freedom, agriculture in Africa, parallel economy of slavery, rubber boom

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