New book focuses on the Quilombolas of Brazil

An open book

The book, Mulheres Quilombolas, Interseccionalidades, e Políticas Públicas, has a unique connection to York University. Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies political science Professor Simone Bohn is one of the book’s editors.

quilombola book cover
Cover of Mulheres Quilombolas, Interseccionalidades, e Políticas Públicas

Conventional history textbooks refer to them as direct descendants of run-away slaves. However, this is not how the Quilombolas of Brazil see themselves. In their view, the Quilombola “in fact, is an insurgent citizen, who was fighting against a social order that legalized slavery.” (Bohn and Grossi, 2018: 165). Those insurgent citizens formed free societies, known as Quilombo. Thousands of Quilombola communities are still in existence in today’s Brazil.

Published this month, the book Mulheres Quilombolas, Interseccionalidades, e Políticas Públicas (Quilombola Women, Intersectionalities and Public Policy, 2021), showcases the Quilombolas’ lived experiences, narratives of resilience, perseverance, solidarity, and most important, pride in their heritage and determination to continue fighting for the titling of their ancestral lands. Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) Professor Simone Bohn and Professor Patricia Krieger Grossi of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUC-RS), Brazil, co-edited the book together with Simone Barros de Oliveira of the Federal University of Pampa (UNIPAMPA) and Joana das Flores Duarte of the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP). A total of 145 Quilombola women and 37 Quilombola men from 40 different communities in the state of Rio Grande do Sul took part in interviews and focal groups, as well as 18 professionals (such as agrarian technicians, social workers, and others). In addition to PUC-RS, researchers from five other universities participated in the research, and contributed chapter to the book.

The book will be officially launched during a virtual event over Zoom on Thursday, Dec. 2, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. and will feature a presentation by Bohn and Gossi about the research journey, their plans with their new partners from the north of Brazil and how much the Quilombolas have taught them. All are welcome to attend, however pre-registration is required and can be completed here.

The research project supporting this book, which received seed funding from LA&PS, and from A Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio Grande do Su (FAPERGS) and the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPQ), is anchored upon the principles of participatory action research. As such, members of different Quilombola communities penned some of its parts, especially the chapters in section titled “Nada de Nós sem Nós” (Nothing about us without us). Ivonete Carvalho, a Quilombola leader, and former National Secretary for Traditional Peoples and Communities, from the Special Secretariat for Policies to Promote Racial Equality, wrote the preface.

On Nov. 20, the Day of Black Consciousness is celebrated in Brazil, Quilombola communities were gifted the book, as well as a soft copy of a guidebook that the research team prepared, which contains information about public policies targeted to them.