ISSN: 2038-0925

3/ African knowledge transfer in Early Modern Portugal: Enslaved people and rice cultivation in Tagus and Sado rivers

di Miguel CARMO, Joana SOUSA, Pedro VARELA, Ricardo VENTURA, Manuel BIVAR

Diacronie. Studi di Storia Contemporanea, N. 44, 4|2020

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ABSTRACT TESTO INTEGRALE GLI AUTORI REFERENZE LICENZE

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"Francisco Manuel Blanco (O.S.A.), Flora de Filipinas [...] Gran edicion [...] [Atlas I], 1880-1883" by CarolSpears via Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

“Francisco Manuel Blanco (O.S.A.), Flora de Filipinas […] Gran edicion […] [Atlas I], 1880-1883” by CarolSpears via Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

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Abstract


Italiano

Le origini della coltivazione del riso ai margini dei fiumi Sado e Tago e le relative trasformazioni agroecologiche e tecnologiche non sono state ancora oggetto di studio. Conosciamo molto poco della dinamica delle “frontiere d’acqua” dolce e salata in quei fiumi, vale a dire la conversione delle paludi in risaie o saline, o il ruolo delle persone di colore provenienti dall’Africa occidentale e ridotte in schiavitù lungo i fiumi Sado e Tago. Questo articolo presenta una ricerca innovativa sui legami tra questi nuovi arrivati, provenienti da luoghi in cui tali trasformazioni erano comuni, e la produzione di riso in Portogallo durante la prima età moderna. Ricostruzioni storiche troppo semplicistiche hanno (ri)espropriato gli schiavi e i loro discendenti da qualsiasi ruolo storico trasformativo. Tuttavia, gli studi di Judith Carney, Edda Fields-Black, Peter Wood, Daniel Littlefield e di altri, collocano gli schiavi provenienti dall’Africa occidentale al centro del trasferimento tecnologico e del cambiamento agroecologico nelle Americhe. Sulla sponda europea dell’Atlantico, questa linea di indagine non è stata ancora seguita. Il nostro studio contribuisce a definire un approccio critico più solido nei confronti della storia socio-ambientale dei subalterni nelle società schiaviste. Proponiamo un’ipotesi di ricerca che vada oltre la contrapposizione tra natura-società nelle aree coloniali e l’implicita e ulteriore oggettivazione che essa comporta nei confronti degli schiavi di colore, limitandosi alla loro condizione metabolica. La storia poco nota della coltivazione di riso nel Sado e nel Tago è collegata alla storia non raccontata degli schiavi neri in Portogallo e questo articolo offre una formulazione preliminare di queste connessioni.

Parole chiave: acquitrini, lavoro e tecnologia, riso nero, schiavitù, Storia dell’agricoltura.

 

English

The origins of rice cultivation on the margins of the rivers Sado and Tagus, and the accompanying agroecological and technological changes have not been studied hitherto. Little is known about the dynamics of the salt-fresh water frontiers in those rivers, namely the conversion of marshes into rice or salt paddies, or the role of Black people brought from West Africa and enslaved along the Sado and Tagus rivers. This article presents exploratory research on the links between these newcomers, arriving from places where such transformations were common, and the production of rice during Early Modern Portugal. Over-simplified historiographies have (re)dispossessed enslaved people and their descendants from any historical transformative role. Yet, studies by Judith Carney, Edda Fields-Black, Peter Wood, Daniel Littlefield, and others place enslaved people from West Africa at the core of technology transfer and agroecological change in the Americas. On the European side of the Atlantic, this line of inquiry has yet to be followed. Our study contributes to a more enduring critical approach to the socioenvironmental history of the subaltern in enslaving societies. We propose a research hypothesis reaching beyond the colonial nature-society divide and its implied, further objectification of the enslaved Black person as limited to their metabolic condition. The largely unknown history of rice in the Sado and the Tagus is connected to the untold history of enslaved Black people in Portugal and this article offers a preliminary formulation of these connections.

Keywords: Agricultural history, Black rice, Labour and technology, Marshlands, Slavery.

 
 

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Gli autori


Miguel Carmo (BSc in environmental engineering, PhD in agriculture) is a research fellow at IPMA (Portuguese Met Office) and Institute of Contemporary History (NOVA University, Lisboa). His previous research was on wildfires ecology and climate in Portugal. After 2013 he has been working on agricultural and rural change in Portugal, focusing on the links between biophysical and sociocultural processes.

Joana Sousa (BSc in environmental biology, PhD in anthropology) is a research fellow at the Center of Social Studies at the University of Coimbra (Portugal). She has carried out ethnographic research on the interface of people and protected areas and on social representations of non-humans in Guinea-Bissau (2009-2015). After 2013 she has been working on the circulation of knowledge and technology in mangrove rice farming in West Africa.

Pedro Varela (BSc in landscape architecture, MSc in anthropology) is a PhD candidate at the Center of Social Studies at the University of Coimbra. He currently works on racism, anti-racism and artistic practices. His previous research was on community conservation in Guinea-Bissau and urban agriculture in Lisbon suburbs

Ricardo Ventura (PhD in cultural studies) is a research fellow at the Center for Lusophone and European Literatures and Cultures – CLEPUL, University of Lisbon (Portugal). He has been developing his research activity in Humanities in a multidisciplinary approach, through the study and edition of Early Modern Portuguese and Latin sources, concerning intercultural and interreligious relations.

Manuel Bivar (BSc in landscape architecture, PhD in history) did research in Guinea-Bissau on agricultural and forestry systems from 2008 to 2013. After 2013 he has carried out research on Upper Guinea Coast oral history. He is currently a farmer and plants a pistachio orchard in Portugal.

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Per citare questo articolo


CARMO, Miguel, SOUSA, Joana, VARELA, Pedro, VENTURA, Ricardo, BIVAR, Manuel, «African knowledge transfers in Early Modern Portugal: Enslaved people and rice cultivation in Tagus and Sado rivers», Diacronie. Studi di Storia Contemporanea, N. 44, 4|2020

URL: <http://www.studistorici.com/2020/12/29/sousa-bivar-carmo-varela-ventura_numero_44/>

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Licenze


Creative Commons License«African knowledge transfers in Early Modern Portugal: Enslaved people and rice cultivation in Tagus and Sado rivers» by Miguel Carmo, Joana Sousa, Pedro Varela, Ricardo Ventura, Manuel Bivar / Diacronie. Studi di Storia Contemporanea is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione – Condividi allo stesso modo 3.0 Unported.

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