This essay proposes the historical term simarrona (used in colonial Louisiana archives) as a heuristic for unlearning certain reading practices of the term maroon and its persistent “etymology plot.” Simarrona not only troubles the neat linguistic geographies of the term maroon; it foregrounds the instability of colonial grammars and their attendant binaries. The author pairs the poetic resistance with the colonial grammars of Sylvia Wynter, Aimé Césaire, and fahima ife, with the instability of simarrona in the archival record to propose a way of reading archives of marronage that leaves space for that which was withheld.
Simarrona: Beyond Etymologies toward a Practice of Unlearning
SJ Zhang is assistant professor of English at the University of Chicago. Their current project, “Going Maroon and Other Forms of Family,” considers how reproduction and carceral forces shaped the decisions and triggered the archives of four women who went maroon in North America and the Caribbean between 1781 and 1820. Their work is published in Representations, Women and Performance, and Transition, and in Caribbean Literature in Transition: 1800–1920 (2021), the first volume of three in the Cambridge series.
SJ Zhang; Simarrona: Beyond Etymologies toward a Practice of Unlearning. Small Axe 1 July 2023; 27 (2 (71)): 122–127. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-10795293
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