Marronage as a Place of Possibility

Authors: Willie Wright*, Department of Geography
Topics: Political Geography, Regional Geography, Geomorphology
Keywords: marronage, place, resistance, uneven development
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 3:55 PM / 5:35 PM
Room: 8216, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In recent years a number of texts have addressed various desires for and iterations of freedom sought, acquired, maintained and thwarted throughout the Black Freedom Struggle (Andrews, 2004; Davis, 2016; Kelley, 1991; Roberts, 2016). In addition, there is a growing interest in marronage as a method of resistance to chattel slavery in the Western Hemisphere (Bledsoe, 2015; Sayers, 2015). Though conceptualizations of “freedom” and “liberation” are being employed and interrogated in critical scholarship and research on marronage, lesser attention has been given to the geographies of freedom, specifically, the landscapes unto which freedom dreams are performed. In this essay, I argue that the ability of select fugitive groups to obtain freedom through marronage (no matter how precarious and short-lived) is reliant upon their ability to seek, find, and settle within difficult and seemingly uninhabitable landscapes void of (exchange) value. More specifically, I posit that "freedom" in the form of marronage has relied upon the anti-capitalist topographic and geomorphologic characteristics of environments, characteristics which have made them amenable to the liberatory aspirations of communities fleeing racial oppression, capitalist exploitation, and gendered violence. To illustrate marronage as a landscape of freedom, I close with examples of the use of undervalued landscapes for marronage in the Western Hemisphere, South America, and Southeast Asia, showcasing how, across time and space, devalued landscapes have serviced subterfuge and provided sustenance for marginalized communities.

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