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University of Texas at Austin - UT

Curso: Black Theory One


Semestre: Fall 2017
Professor: Dr. Stephen Marshall
Student: Davi Pereira Junior

Black Roots Radical Traditions and Quilombismo as Political Projecto to Black


People Who Lives in Diaspora: The Political Alternatives proposals by Robinson and
Nascimento.

During the course of 2017, in the course of black theory one, we had amazing class

discussion about political issue faced by black people who have experienced life in the

diaspora. In addition we had discussed several political projects thought by the black

intellectuals in order to offer an alternative and or a possibility of the black people to confront

the white supremacist project that has as a consequence black genocide. Instead, for my final

I chave choosing writing a research paper contrasting what Cedric Robinson call “The roots

of Black Radicalism” in the second part of his book ‘Black Marxism’(1983). The

Quilombismo theory from Abdias Nascimento (1988). I will think from the diaspora theory

frameworks proposed by Paul Gilroy in Black Atlantic (1993). Two other books will be used

as support for quilombo thinking and as an idea of a black republic. Robert Edgar Conrad;

Children of God’s Fire (1983) and Flavio Gomes Palmares 2005.

The questions that I have in mind to think about politics and black folks who are

living in the diásporaare following up here. How does quilombismo constitute at diáspora a

political project to black people? Why quilombismo it is a better political project for black

folks than National States uncoordinated in the diaspora? How could quilombismo bring

together black people of different part of the world in a collective political common?How

could the experiences of black freedom in the diaspora (maroons, cimarrones, cumbes,
palenque, etc.) help formulate a collective political project that could guarantee power for

black people in America and the Caribbean?

I am thinking of quilombo as a black social institution of resistance to slavery and its

implications as a kind of unique black“intelligentsia” forged from a context of extreme

oppression. This black “intelligentsia” that enables blacks to manifest and build institutions of

resistance to slavery that will assume a variety of name in the Americas. This kind of black

expertise that will make life possible in the diaspora and that will shape a political project that

allows the slave to revolt against slavery and dream of a diasporic political project of

liberation in the Americas

Besides, I am thinking of the quilombo as a type of political project that could enable

autonomy and liberation for the black people.Throughout the almost four centuries that

slavery lasted in the Americas, Africans who were brought into the "new world" as enslaved

imposed various forms of reaction to their status as slave. Although on many occasions

traditional historiography tries to deny this condition of rebellion of the Negro against the

condition of slaves, when crystallizing the idea of black passivity before the regime of slavery

that was imposed to him. The crystallization of the "passivity" before the condition of slave

was by the elaboration in the historiography, of interpretative schemes that perceive the black

like passive component of the historical dynamics.

The strategies slaves used to rebel against slavery took various forms throughout the

Americas such as; suicide, refusal to comply, orders, infanticide, rebellions and escapes for

the living in institutions such as quilombos, palenques etc, are not seen as a movement to

fight against the current system. However, with the advent of new approaches, methodologies

and interpretations, it has become increasingly evident that the black reaction against slavery

as a constant phenomenon and daily practices.


The "black escape" ended up creating social institutions such as quilombos,

palenques, cimarronaje, among other of resistance against slavery and domination in the

Americas. Also, it were the result of this vital exigency for enslaved Africans, to recover their

liberty and human dignity through escape from captivity, organizing viable free societies

Although these institutions apparently did not constitute a common political project of

liberation and unification of a Black America in the period of slavery, this does not mean that

in more localized terms the social institutions resulting from the escapes of the slaves did not

generate political projects of release.

It is possible to us think about a series of historical events across the Americas were

the blacks slaver put into practice these political projects of liberation from the institutions

resulting from the process of escape from the slave regime or black revolt for power takeover

such as the following up herer, Haiti (1791), Santo Domingos (1971), Jamaica (1790),

México (1609), Panama (1570), Colombia (1693), Martinique (1665) Suriname (1760) .

Some of this black revolt borth Robinson and Nascimento will calls of “Black Republic” it is

in that perspective Robinson will address the seizure of power by blacks in Haiti.

Nascimento will be illustrates the Black Republic through the example of the

quilombo de Palmares (1580 - 1696), which was described by them (1988) as the "first free

black republic of the Americas," lasted for more than 100 years with political and economic

autonomy, even under the regime of slavery in Brazil.

The case of the black republic of Palmares is very important because the Portuguese

crown received the "official recognition of the institutionality" of Palmares 1678, through a

peace proposal made to the then Palmarine king Ganga Zuma. Palmares consolidated

republican structure of administration and black government. In this sense, Palmares is the
materialization of the first black republican state outside Africa. In fact Palmares was the first

large-scale black government political project in the Diaspora context. However, to ensure

success was indispensable the formation of networks that would guarantee its survival as a

state formatted from a black political project.

However, this network of relations was not always enough to avoid confrontations,

which required the quilombolas to maintain a certain "military apparatus" for self-protection.

Moura (1987) mentions that it was common for the quilombolas to maintain this military

apparatus with the intention of protecting the population and its economy, this "military

contingent" was responsible for the security of the workers against the punitive incursions

(Gomes 2010) of the slave owners. However, other authors have already mentioned the

existence of "armies" or large military contingents quilombolas with the purpose of

guaranteeing the protection of the quilombo. Conrad (1983) mentions the existence of a large

military contingent very well organized in the quilombo of the Palmares that was

characterized by the high military hierarchization and efficiency in the combats. The complex

military organization of the palmarina republic allied with the political skills of its leaders

were the two main factors resistance of this quilombo by practically one the incursions of the

Portuguese crown.
Robison and Nascimento, are discussing black politics in the same period1. ​Robison

and Nascimento, are discussing black politics in the same period in the back 1980s. Both of

them are black intellectuals and have Marxist inclinations interested in the political

organizations of slaves of resistance to slavery. They are analyzed what it is the rules that

slavery political organizations plays of the period of slavery on the side American of the

Atlantic. Robinson goes deeply in a search for the emergency conditions of what he calls of

the roots of the radical black tradition.

The political scenario that Robinson is analyzing it is the colonial period. He seeks to

understand how blacks who experience slavery in the diaspora react politically to slavery. In

contrast, Nascimento is used these political organizations constituted by the slaves in the

Americas as inspiration to think about a political project that allows the black people who are

1
Nascimento’s and Robinson’s essay that I will analyze through this paper were written in the same decade
1980s. Although Nascimento has a black political engagement path dating back to the 1950s. This does not
mean that Robinson was not politically engaged before his book Black Maxism (1983), but that I do not know
his political militancy from before 1983. The question is that I have more familiarity with the life of Abdias
Nascimento who than Robinson’s lifes.
living in the diaspora to face the political project supremacist in the contemporaneity. Also,

Nascimento dedicated to studying the black anthology heritage and the legacies of African

societies for humanity. He strongly criticizes the science of Eurocentric matrix by the process

of negation and appropriation of black scientific legacies.

Robison invokes the slave institutions such as marronage, palenque, quilombos, etc.

That arising through the Americas in the colonial times as being the origin of the radical

political tradition of black people. Robinson began with a reviews the the investigations of

the relations between Europe and Africa that’s for him has as consequence the process of

invisibilization of the African knowledge. Robinson criticizes the history and historiography

(Marxism) for denying the history of Africa and to contribute with the “ black

dehumanization”. Robinson, while analyzing the slave trade of the Atlantic, seeks to further

extend the field of study beyond the North Atlantic and Caribbean. By throwing light on the

South Atlantic Robinson presents the forms of black radicalism that arose in Portuguese,

Spanish and French America.

The novelty in the study of the diaspora that Robinson brings up in my point of view

and the inclusion of Mexico (palenques) as the root of black radicalism. Robinson's position

can be seen as an opposition to the binary interpretation of the idea of ​a nation state after the

Mexican revolution and the denial of the black heritage to the idea of ​the cosmic race.

However, Robison address, that ​African resistance in Mexico continued to mature in form

and character. The struggle against slavery was being transferred into the battle to preserve

the collective identity of African peoples (p. 132). ​Even most of the traditional scholars on

the insurrectional movements black in the Americas usually integrate the Mexico as a place

that could become important to think politics in the black Diaspora.


Like Nascimento, Robison shows a certain concern in showing that what he calls the

roots of black radicalism maintains a close connection with Africa. In this perspective, the

concept of diaspora plays an important role in the conception of the political movements of

the black people in the period of slavery in the various alternatives of resistance used by the

blacks in search of liberation.

Robison, advocates that the The Africans share with them a whole load of invisible

subjectivities that involve a whole set of cultural traditions, including the feelings and

behaviors of the different peoples living on the African continent that are transported across

the Atlantic to the Americas. Further, ​each generation among the slaves contributed to the

further broadening of Black consciousness and the ideology of the tradition. p. 366. ​This

cultural system will clashed with European culture in the face of the impositions of the slave

system;

The transport of African labor to the mines and plantations of the


Caribbean and subsequently to what would be known as the Americas
meant also the transfer of African ontological and cosmological
systems; African presumptions of the organization and significance of
social structure; African codes embodying historical consciousness
and social experience; and African ideological and behavioral
constructions for the resolution of the inevitable conflict between the
actual and the normative. (Robinson. 1983, p. 122).

The radicalism of marronage or quilombola presented in the book is the result of a

multifaceted variation of black slavery in America. And it is radical too, because these social

forms of black organizations are strongly marked by aspects of opposition to Western

capitalist civilization. While Western society is characterized by racial and social hierarchy

and individualism. Black societies in the Americas it is radically characterized by ties of

solidarity, collectivism, racially non-hierarchical and multiracial. The forms of black


radicalism presented by Robinson as Cimarronaje, Palenques and Quilombos for example are

categories that the western terms do not explain explain.The Marxist categories are so

focused on explaining the Western world as to deny any possibility of subaltern agency. This

is noticeable both for the forms of black radicalism and for the marvelous and for the very

idea of ​revolution.

The marronage were not subjected to social hierarchy because it was outside the

social pyramid. Being a marronage represented a fundamental condition for the Negro to

regain his autonomy and agency. This fact has made the quilombo in the eyes of the colonial

elite to some extent a kind of "social unrest," which has to be eliminated. The morran is a

sword that goes through the heart of colonial power in the Americas, because marronage

beyond subverting the social order subverts the economic order of colonial society as it

becomes an economic alternative to plantation. Marronage introduces its own mode of

production based on collective work and the common use of land and natural resources,

transforming the economic order.

The transformation of the economic order also happens by the form of the

quilombolas, morrons, palenqueiros seize the land, since the rule of imperial land concession

applied to senhores de engenho does not apply to quilombolas, because they are not

Portuguese, white and with political influence alongside the Portuguese court. The only way

they found of subverting the current order and having access to land and through the

establishment of quilombos. With this the quilombo comes to mean the complete denial of

social and economic values ​colonial society.


The Nascimento’s political theory of the Quilombismo can not be understood as a

theory of localized comprehension or thought as the political mechanism of liberation only of

the Brazilian black masses. Quilombismo can only be understood as something that was

raised from the very ontology of the Nascimento’s lifes , who was a militant of

Pan-Africanism in his ideological positions and his theoretical elaborations on the situation of

oppression experienced in everyday life by the black people in the Diaspora, as his own

experience;

Quilombist society represents an advanced stage in sociopolitical and


human progress in terms of economic egalitarianism. Known historical
precedents confirm this position. As an economic system, Quilombismo has
meant the adaptation of African traditions of communitarian. (..)
Quilombismo expresses scientific theory: a scientific theory inextricably
welded to our historical practice, that can effectively contribute to Black
people's liberation from centuries of inexorable extermination. (Nascimento,
1988. p.​161)

The Nascimento’s thought must be understood from his position as a transnational

thinker, engaged in the struggles against anti-black racism and strongly crossbred by

diasporic experience. It is precisely in the context of the fight against anti-black racism that

the quilombismo gains the outline of an ambitious political project of transnational liberation

for the black people living in the diaspora. Abdias, transformed his life into an instrument of

political struggle for the black cause through the organization and its participation in

Pan-Africanist events with the intention of bringing together black intellectuals from different

parts of the world in search of a common political project diasporic liberation;

Nascimento begins arguing how the white elites use several mechanisms to deny

Afrodescendant memory in around the Americas over time as a way to prevent the black

from assuming any link with Africa. For Nascimento, economic conditions will also be a
determining factor to make contact with Africa and with other blacks in the diaspora difficult.

He calls attention to the historical process of exclusion suffered by blacks who have

experienced the life in the diaspora. In the same way, for Nascimento, the economic racism

had generated a social gulf between a black mass and a privileged white minority.

Furthermore, one of the mechanisms of denial of the African memory used by the Latin

American elite will be the whiteness projects through miscegenation with the facilitation of

European immigration. This process makes clear how racism against the black in the diaspora

is scandalous and structured.

According to Nascimento, immigrants eventually benefited from racial patterns that

were Eurocentric and Supremacist (pp. 149). In addition, immigrants would have assumed

racial myths. Further thickening the racist contingent against blacks, and contributed the

economic exclusion of black labor. It is in this context of exclusion and marginalization that

for Nascimento, the need arises for the Negro to defend his existence as a human being (pp.

152). The defense of the Negro's human condition would be in the practice of quilombismo.

Nascimento advocates that as part of the political project of quilombismo the need to

break with the dominant thought patterns, that is, he proposes the end of the Eurocentric

mental colonization and the advent of Quilombist liberation (pp. 159). For birth it is urgent to

destroy the structure of ideological domination that oppresses the black, this structure of

ideological domination was forged mainly by European scientific theory. However, for Birth

the European and American theories are at the service of the oppressors because they

victimized the blacks by fabricating the dehumanization of Africans and their descendants.

The way out for blacks to be freed from mental colonization would be in a science of

their own that would allow us to reflect on the time of oppression and not be elaborated from

the external historical point of view and context but expresses the collective experience of
black creativity. For Nascimento, an authentic democracy founded by the destitute and

disinherited of the country (pp. 159) would only be possible through the radical

transformation of the socioeconomic and political structures that existed in the society from a

structured thought in a type of science that was free of thought colonialism and racism;

Black people know that their opposition cannot be exhausted in the


attainment of small gains in employment or civil rights, in the context of the
dominant capitalist white society and its organized middle class. Black
people understand that they will have to defeat all components of the system
in force, including its intelligentsia. (Nascimento. 1988, p 159)

In Nascimento’s thought "quilombismo" it is a political project capable of enabling

Afrodescendant people to achieve freedom, through the mobilization of the black mass to

fight against oppression. Furthermore, he believes that throughout the quilombismo black

folks around the world could articulates among them the anti-imperialist struggle,

Pan-Africanist sentiment, radical black solidarity and resistance to black genocide. In this

sense, Nascimento re-signifies the meaning of the quilombo or of the quilombismo, it breaks

with the term quilombo/quilombismo refrigerated by the colonialism that restricted the idea

of ​quilombismo to criminality. But the sense given by Nascimento that include thinking of

the quilombismo as Afrodescendant praxis encompassing any and all kind of black resistance

and solidarity among blacks.

Quilombismo being an anti-imperialist struggle, it articulates itself with


Pan-Africanism and sustains a radical solidarity with all peoples of the
world who struggle against exploitation, oppression and poverty, as well as
inequalities motivated by race, color, religion or ideology. Black nationalism
is universalist and internationalist in itself, in that it sees the national
liberation of all peoples respecting their unique cultural and political
integrity, as an imperative for world liberation. (Nascimento. 1988, p 155)

Nascimento argues that quilombismo is not a political project restricted to a specific

place or region.Which allows that blacks could practice it at any time and place. Beside that,
the quilombismo it is a constant process of revitalization and reorganization of black

struggles against racial oppression, genocide and police brutality;

Permanent police brutality and arbitrary arrests motivated by race contribute


to the reign of terror under which Blacks live daily. In such conditions, one
comprehends why no conscious Black person has the slightest hope that a
progressive change. (Nascimento. 1988, p 150).

Regardless, quilombismo constitute an individual or collective mechanism of

subversion and resistance for black people in the diaspora because it is an organization that

has roots in the African traditions. In these sense, could the quilombismo and its various

equivalents throughout the Americas, constitute an international alternative for popular Black

political organization.

Nascimento elaborated a set of foundations of the thought of the quilombista society,

these foundations have a very clear pedagogical objective that to spread this new ideology of

liberation among Afrodescendant in Brazil and throughout the Americas. The so-called ABC

of Quilombismo aims to build unity and black solidarity with the objective of guaranteeing

the human condition of blacks and survival to the daily genocide, is a way to react against

discrimination, oppression, dehumanization, racial democracy, racism and especially against

the mental colonization of the Negro.

Nascimento also formulates a political proposal with 16 points to support the

quilombista state inspired by the Republic of Palmares, which preaches principle, freedom,

justice, equality, sovereignty and cooperativism. The main objective of the quilombista state

is to promote the happiness of the human being. Also provide direct relationship between the

masses and political leaders, gender parity in the occupation of the jobs. In addition, the

quilombismo defends a fair society, where afrodescendente feel represented, that means to

say that what Nascimento proposes is power for the black people.
Nascimento conceives the quilombismo is a political treatise that predicts the masses

oppressed and marginalized by the nation-state refund the notion of state by the ideology of

quilombismo. The reflections that Nascimento brings in the text are proof of how

quilombismo freed him radically. What's Nascimento propose at the beginning of his

anti-racist activism was the struggle for integration of the black in Brazilian society.

However, the message proposed by Nascimento in the quilombismo is radically different

since it intends to constitute the basis of a political project of liberation for all black people

around the world.

In my point of view the quilombismo expresses precisely this process of realization

that "integration" would not be a way for the black to escape this "dehumanization", but that

it is extremely urgent and necessary to destroy the structure of domination supremacist

Eurocentric for what the black people to be able to build a political project structured from

the oppression experiences and with the construction of diasporic black solidarity.