Avengers of Zumbi: The Nature of Fugitive Slave Communities and Their Descendants in Brazil


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




In 1988, Brazil ratified Article 68, a constitutional provision that granted land rights to rural black communities descended from fugitive slaves called quilombos. This project argues that Article 68 and its fitful enforcement reflect longstanding battles of the black peasantry over land, resources, and autonomy that originated under slavery and took new forms during the twentieth century. Focused on the Atlantic Rainforest of São Paulo state, this study draws from archival research and oral histories to reveal how quilombo-descendant political mobilization is bound up with past and present socio-spatial struggles. This political, cultural, and environmental history engages with critical geography to shed light upon the racial dynamics of what is often referred to as the environmentalism of the poor in Brazil.