Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Slavery's Exiles-Sylviane Diouf

Slavery's Exiles: The Story of American Maroons- Sylviane A. Diouf

the facts
satisfaction: side
pages: 403
gender: F
nationality: USA, of color
year: 2014
non fiction, history

An academic text about American Maroons-runaway slaves who made communities near the plantations from which they ran away.


I have to confess, I had no idea what maroonage was before I read this book. Since I went to school in the North, according to my textbooks when slaves ran away they either did the underground railroad (and thus our triumph as Northerners), were killed (often by dogs specially trained to hunt them), went to Canada (against all odds), or were punished and taken back to their plantations (most common, those owners were ruthless). No one really told us about maroonage or the survival of former slaves in anarchic self-made communities in the wilderness, the forests and swamps. Diouf fills in any hole left by my education (and I presume yours too)-she goes into great detail defining maroonage, the types of maroonage and how the communities were formed and sustained. Obviously records are difficult to obtain but Diouf draws together seemingly any kind of record to pay justice to the variety of the ways that human beings can survive. Diouf suffers a bit in places with too much detail making the narrative hard to hold in your mind amidst the dense writing which can make this hard going in places but with a dearth of other books on maroonage, Diouf has done something really good here.

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