The term was coined after the Spanish “cimarrón”. It refers to the act of escaping slavery and “Marrons” the people who escaped . In La Réunion, they’d flee and hide in the steep mountains, and even built villages where no one could find them. Legends also tell about kings and queens of these isolated “îlets”.

From 1729 to 1744, Marrons were tracked down by hunters. They would often kill runaway slaves directly in the forest, only to bring back their left hands as a trophy so they could be paid. Some other times, people would be brought back to the city to be decapitated.
One notorious execution was the one of a slave named Elie, who led the slave rebellion in Saint Leu, back when the island was dominated by the British.

In 2013 a statue was built in Saint Denis to honor the Marrons. You can see a few photos here : and I may add that, when it gets dark, the severed neck glows red from the inside. I find it haunting but powerful.
Interview: Neil Roberts on Freedom as Marronage - Epistemic Unruliness 6

Thanks to our friends at the New Books Network, we are cross-posting John’s interview with Neil Roberts for New Books in Global Ethics here. Enjoy!

What does it mean to be free?  How can paying attention to the relationship between freedom and slavery help construct a concept and practice of freedom that is “perpetual, unfinished, and rooted in acts of flight” (181)? In his bookFreedom as Marronage (University of Chicago Press, 2015), Neil Roberts(Africana Studies, Religion, and Political Science, Williams College) explores this and many other questions. Proceeding from and working with the concept and practice of marronage – modes of escape from slavery emerging from the Caribbean – Roberts articulates a theory of freedom that is historically specific while having trans-historical reverberations, and that is attentive to lived experiences of freedom and slavery. In doing so, he engages histories of the transatlantic slave trade, colonialism, diaspora, the Haitian Revolution, and American slavery. Arguing for the need to creolize political theory and philosophy, Roberts also takes up the thought and practice of W.E.B. DuBois, Hannah Arendt, Philip Petit, Frederick Douglass, Angela Davis, Toussaint L’Ouverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Edouard Glissant, Rastafari, and much more.

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12 Years a Slave. What About 15 Years in a Cave?

[Solomon] Northup did not run away; but countless others did and chose to define their own freedom, outside of white control, be it Southern, Northern, Spanish or French. They left behind the terrorist system that oppressed them and created a new life, settling in and measuring themselves against a wild and difficult environment. Former maroon Tom Wilson explained in the 1930s why they preferred this alternative: “I felt safer,” he said, “among the alligators than among the white men.”

Marronage was much more extensive in the United States than previously thought, and for many maroons it took the unique form of cave dwelling. Men, women, and children were willing to live for years in houses they dug underground. The sister of famous memoirist Moses Grandy gave birth to three babies in hers. Nat Turner dug himself two (rudimentary) caves and hid there after the revolt. However, the most emblematic of the cave dwellers, were undoubtedly Pattin of Virginia and his wife who were so determined to be and stay free that they lived in a cave for 15 years and raised 15 children there emerging only after the “Surrender.”

a few "scattering remarks" on marx, labor, marronage and art philosophy

labor power, defined by Marx is, quite literally, the capacity to produce work: it is “the aggregate of those mental and physical capabilities existing in a human being.”  under certain capitalism, labor power creates work that is “just work,” creates workers who are “just workers.”  in other words, capitalism manages labor power by way of abstraction, by the removal of difference and discrepancy in order to produce a labor force.  as such, labor power is extracted from the person to produce modern economic subjectivity [notions of subjectivity are nothing other than abstract equivalency; capital in the form of paper money does this very well].  of course, this extraction of labor power to produce capitalist subjects is part of a more general concern for abstraction and extraction, for general equivalences and removal.  surplus labor is that which exceeds “necessary labor" (labor in excess of that which is necessary for subsistence).

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Maroons drew a clear distinction between enslavement and marronage. The creation story among the Jamaican Windward Maroons contrasts their community’s founder, Grandy Nanny, who was willing to fight for her freedom, with her sister Shanti, who was too afraid to do so and remained in slavery. The Ndjuka people (descendants of former Maroons) of present-day Suriname remember three definitive periods in their history: katibo ten, the period of enslavement; lowe ten, the years of escape into the forests and organization of Maroon settlements; and a fi, the post-treaty period. They still celebrate their freedom today and ritualistically remember it in their visits to each other. The host inquires, according to the old sentry challenge, “Wada, wadaa … ooo?” (“Who is there?”). The visitor replies, “Friman” (“Freeman”)
—  Alvin O. Thompson, Flight to Freedom : African Runaways and Maroons in the Americas.
There is considerable irony, but certainly little accident, in the fact that the study of North American maroons has been so largely neglected.

richard price, maroon societies: rebel slave communities in the americas

translated: pigs intentionally render marronage unspeakable because they don’t want niggas to stop being niggas and start being free by following the guidance of their ancestors who said fuck slavery and transcended its shackles through organized guerrilla warfare and permaculture.

and it’s funny to me how my iphone is telling me marronage isn’t a word.