Flight from bondage and the subsequent reconstruction of civil society
November 4, 2018 1:49 AM   Subscribe

The Masterless People: Pirates, Maroons, and the Struggle to Live Free - "In the 'bizarre and horrifying world' of the early modern Caribbean, maroons and pirates both prized their freedom above all else. And sometimes they worked together to safeguard it."
posted by kliuless (11 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
 
The main link is well worth reading (and based on that excerpt, so is the book it is taken from). Thank you for posting this.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:28 AM on November 4, 2018


Well, that's another book on my reading list. It's in the same stack as The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic, which came recommended to me by an anarchist friend.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 8:12 AM on November 4, 2018 [3 favorites]


Sounds right up my alley, although I'll be interested to read how he squares the circle to deal with the fact of American slavery first appearing precisely at Jamestown. I suppose that might be accomplished by drawing a line between the Starving Time of 1607-10 and the arrivals of 1619.
posted by mwhybark at 9:44 AM on November 4, 2018


Some of the most famous maroon societies in the Caribbean are the Maroons of Jamaica and the Saamaka, Ndyuka, and other Maroons of Suriname and Guyane. The Jamaica Maroons, who continue to live in two main groups centered in Accompong (in the hills above Montego Bay) and in Moore Town (deep in the Blue Mountains), maintain strong traditions about their days as freedom fighters, when the former group was led by Cudjoe and the latter by the redoubtable woman warrior Nanny (whose likeness now graces the Jamaican 500 dollar bill). Two centuries of scholarship, some of it written by Maroons themselves, offers diverse windows on the ways these men and women managed to build a vibrant culture within the confines of a relatively small island.
posted by adamvasco at 10:08 AM on November 4, 2018 [9 favorites]


There are two movies just begging to be made.

One would be a movie about Bass Reeves, aka the real Django. Self-liberate, trained by Native Americans, the most fearsome US marshall in the wild west.

The other is Cinque, aka Black Caesar. A West African war chieftain who literally broke free from a slave ship during the middle passage, and then embarked on a career of piracy. He had his own island! He eventually joined up with Blackbeard, where he met with his death.

I mean seriously- Pirates of the Caribbean combined with Django Unchained combined with Black Panther. Why does Hollywood not like making huge amounts of money?
posted by LeRoienJaune at 11:49 AM on November 4, 2018 [10 favorites]


Those stories would certainly make good movies but imho, they should get in line behind Nanny.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:28 PM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


Black Sails kinda covered this, especially toward the end. It had its faults but it's worth a watch if your are interested in the period.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:29 PM on November 4, 2018 [3 favorites]


Where Slaves Ruled.
Escaped slaves in Brazil created thousands of hidden societies, or quilombos, in the heart of the country, many of which are still in existance. and are still fighting to have their right to live on the land where they and ancestors lived.
Anthony Knivet stayed in native villages avoiding capture but whether these also housed escaped slaves is unsure.
posted by adamvasco at 3:08 PM on November 4, 2018 [5 favorites]


If you like this you're going to love Libertatia, the anarchist colony founded by pirates in Madagascar.

[The] pirates were anti-capitalist, opposed to the dispossession that necessarily accompanied the historic ascent of wage labor and capitalism. They insisted that "every Man was born free, and had as much Right to what would support him, as to the Air he respired." They resented the "encroachments" by which "Villains" and "unmerciful Creditors" grew "immensely rich" as others became "wretchedly miserable." They spoke of the "Natural right" to "a Share of the Earth as is necessary for our Support." They saw piracy as a war of self-preservation. [They redefined the] fundamental relations of property and power. They had no need for money "where every Thing was in common, and no Hedge bounded any particular Man's Property," and they decreed that "the Treasure and Cattle they were Masters of should be equally divided."
posted by Damienmce at 5:53 AM on November 5, 2018 [5 favorites]


Seconding Black Sails, the Deadwood of the Caribbean. Like Deadwood, cancelled before its time, but a smart and fairly leftwing examination of the rot at the roots of western colonialism and capitalism. Its treatment of race was problematic, but earnest, thoughtful and sustained.
posted by chortly at 6:08 PM on November 5, 2018


An interesting related article that I learned of from a Mefi post a couple of years ago:

Deep in the Swamps, Archaeologists Are Finding How Fugitive Slaves Kept Their Freedom
posted by thelonius at 8:25 AM on November 11, 2018


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