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From the Rivers of Guinea to the Valleys of Peru: BECOMING A BRAN DIASPORA WITHIN SPANISH SLAVERY

  • Author(s): O'Toole, Rachel S
  • et al.

This article explores how enslaved and free people of the African Diaspora created, revised, and transformed their identities within the physical demands and legal erasure of New World slavery. Locating Diasporic collectivities from the multicultural region of Senegambia, I argue that captives from Guinea-Bissau formed a coherent Diasporic community in coastal Peru not based on a singular ethnicity, but on their multiple and dynamic means of adaptation. By following those called bran from Guinea-Bissau to colonial Peru, I re-configure “transnational” borders separating Latin America and African historiography, as well as complicate ethnicity as a stable marker of early modern identity. As a contribution to African Diaspora history, I disrupt a monolithic construction of an “authentic” black identity by describing the elements of Guinea-Bissau collectivities in the Americas. Therefore, I show how enslaved men acted not always in resistance to slavery, but in conflict with each other and other subalterns in particular applications of Guinea-Bissaun practices. This transnational “way of seeing” requires that I see double, or listen to simultaneous narratives of West African and colonial Andean histories to interpret the specific actions of the enslaved from Guinea-Bissau in Peru.

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