Federica Morelli

Terra e libertà. I liberi di colore in una regione di frontiera (Popayán-Esmeraldas, secoli XVIII-XIX)

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By analyzing a number of trials concerning land disputes that took place between the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth, this essay examines how freemen of color accessed property in the Pacific lowlands along the frontier of the Spanish empire, stretching from modern-day Colombia to Ecuador. Characterized by alluvial gold fields, this region was home to a significant population of Africans - both enslaved and free - who had mixed with local indigenous groups, in contrast to the very small presence of whites and the colonial authority. The mines thus became a resource for slaves to acquire freedom and land. In this particular context, the African diaspora communities living in this region considered the appeal to justice for the acknowledgment of their property rights more of a strategy to achieve citizenship, rather than the beginning of a process of ethno-genesis

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