Nina S. de Friedemann and the African shadow

Authored by: Jaime Arocha

Routledge Handbook of Afro-Latin American Studies

Print publication date:  November  2022
Online publication date:  November  2022

Print ISBN: 9780367691431
eBook ISBN: 9781003159247
Adobe ISBN:


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Nina S. de Friedemann was an ethnographer of Afro-Resistance. This overview of the late anthropologist Nina S. de Friedemann’s trajectory will focus on her hypothesis that African memories fueled the movements in the search for freedom that enslaved men and women staged on the Colombian Caribbean lowlands during the 17th and 18th centuries. It will also approach another of her ideas, that once defeated by the colonial armies, the maroons and their descendants dramatized the memories of their struggles in such dances as the Congo Grande and the Marimondas of the Carnival of Barranquilla, whose costumes still bear traces of Africanness. In reference to the Pacific riverine forests, the chapter will deal with the troncos, bilinear lineages that trace their origin to a mythical ancestor; these were identified during the 1960s in the small river village of Güelmabí, and other anthropologists have found them elsewhere in the Pacific as a means to exert domain over those collective territories created by enslaved men and women who were forced to work in the gold placer mines of the whole region. That kinship structure has been central to the process of offering legitimacy to those domains according to the multicultural constitution introduced in 1991. For that reason, Friedemann is considered a pioneer of that structural reform that offers visibility to peoples of African descent.

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