This essay examines three historical moments in the signification of the term cimarrón across the hispanophone Caribbean. It explores its origin during the conquest, simultaneously naming runaway livestock and Native and Black enslaved peoples who challenged colonization. In the twentieth century, the cimarrón became attached to masculinist nationalist tropes key to postwar anticolonial movements. In the new millennium, Black and Brown women and LBTQ+ folks use the term to convey an ethos of antipatriarchal, community-centered activism. The essay argues that the origins of the term demand a close consideration of the relationship between conquest, othering, racialization, commodification, and the reordering of the animal world with human animals as supreme beings. The contemporary reappropriation of the term alludes to a decolonial reframing, a unique opportunity to reject Western ontologies grounded on the violent practices of othering while also pointing us toward new conditions of possibility based on relationality.
Cimarrón and the Reordering of the Living World
Ileana M. Rodríguez-Silva is associate professor of Latin American and Caribbean history at the University of Washington. She is author of the award-winning book Silencing Race: Disentangling Race, Colonialism, and National Identities in Puerto Rico (1850–1920) (2012) and coeditor, with Laurie Sears, of “The Politics of Storytelling in Island Imperial Formations,” a special issue of Positions (2021).
Ileana M. Rodríguez-Silva; Cimarrón and the Reordering of the Living World. Small Axe 1 July 2023; 27 (2 (71)): 110–121. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-10795279
Download citation file: