The Deep and the Erepecuru: Tracing Transgressions in an Amazonian Quilombola Territory

Sauma, Julia F.. 2014. The Deep and the Erepecuru: Tracing Transgressions in an Amazonian Quilombola Territory. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London) [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This is an ethnography of the Filhos do Erepecuru (henceforth Filhos), an African-American people who live on the Erepecuru river (Amazonian State of Pará, Brazil). This riverine population are self-identified Remanescentes de Quilombos (Quilombo Survivors), descendants of those who escaped from slavery on regional plantations in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The thesis is concerned with exploring the conceptions and practices involved in the Filhos’ vida tranquila (peaceful life). In doing so, it also reflects on how ethnic formation approaches, which have dominated studies about peoples like the Filhos in the Americas, have become ethnographically inappropriate, following recent debates over the question of representation in anthropology. Instead, an ethnographic exploration of the Filhos’ ‘indigenous sociology’ is proposed, which can compare their conceptions and practices relative to sociality and those proposed by an ‘ethnicity’ led approach. It is also argued that the ‘engagements’ between sociological and cosmological dimensions, which persistently appear in the ethnography, constitute the Filhos’ collectivity, and must be included in our understanding of how they create a peaceful life. For this purpose, the thesis traces connections between the Filhos’ ‘landscape of arrival’ and their contemporary place-making, kinship and shamanic practices, as well as the reciprocally related practices of work and play, food acquisition and healing. This will provide a framework for understanding how the Filhos’ ‘territorial approach’ is an interdependent and persistently transformative phenomenon, which will be explored through recent socio-political developments in the final chapter. Focusing on the points of convergence between the Filhos’ sociopolitical and cosmopolitical landscapes, the overall aim is to provide a comparative perspective to questions that continue to inspire anthropological research: the relation between change and continuity, and collective process and individual action.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


Quilombo, Territorial conflict, Personhood, Political Cosmology, Riverine peoples, African diaspora

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February 2014

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Date Deposited:

02 Oct 2020 08:47

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:15


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