By Richard Price
Now in its twenty-fifth anniversary version, Maroon Societies is a scientific research of the groups shaped by means of escaped slaves within the Caribbean, Latin the United States, and the us. those societies ranged from small bands that survived below a yr to robust states encompassing hundreds of thousands of contributors and surviving for generations or even centuries. the quantity contains eyewitness debts written through escaped slaves and their pursuers, in addition to glossy old and anthropological stories of the maroon event. From the recipient of the J. I. Staley Prize in Anthropology
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Additional info for Maroon Societies: Rebel Slave Communities in the Americas
Communities formed in the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries seem to have differed from those formed later, both in the types of men they chose as leaders and in the models used to legitimize their authority. Before 1700, the great majority of maroon leaders on whom we have data were African-born. Moreover, four of the six major leaders (Ganga Zumba, Domingo Bioho, Yanga, and Bayano) claimed to have been kings in their African homelands. During this period, models of monarchy were frequently appealed to; in addition to the well-known case of Palmares, where King Ganga Zumba and his relatives formed a dynasty (see Kent 1965), the Venezuelan maroon leader, “el Rey Miguel,” “formed a royal court with his cabinet and royal family … his mistress Guiomar was made Queen, and their son became the Heir Apparent” (Arboleda 1950:86); Domingo Bioho in Colombia was styled “Rey del Arcabuco” [King of the Craggy Spot] or “Rey Benkos” (Escalante 1954: 228–29; Arboleda 1950:82); and in Panama King Bayano “was regarded with the reverance and obedience due a lord and natural king” (Aguado 1919, II:197).
Even today in Saramaka, neither a man who is too Westernized in experience and attitudes nor one who is too exclusively committed to traditional, “African”-type values is considered appropriate for this office; within the system, the former receive little respect, while the latter typically take on important but specialized advisory or priestly roles. Few maroon societies outlived their turbulent wartime years. However, those that did manage to survive for long periods represent case histories of special sociological significance, since their complete evolution from initial formation to full development can often be reconstructed.
To be viable, maroon communities had to be almost inaccessible, and villages were typically located in inhospitable, out-of-the-way areas. In the southern United States, isolated swamps were a favorite setting (Aptheker 1939); in Jamaica, the most famous maroon groups lived in the unbelievably accidented “cockpit country,” where deep canyons and limestone sinkholes abound but where water and good soil are scarce (for photos of this terrain, see Robinson 1969:49); in the Guianas, seemingly impenetrable jungles provided a home for the maroons; and numerous other such “extreme” environments are mentioned as settings for communities throughout this book.