Crossroads of Freedom: Slaves and Freed People in Bahia, Brazil, 1870-1910
Heads Spinning with Freedom
This chapter analyzes the tensions and conflicts between ex-slaves and ex-masters on Recôncavo plantations after abolition. The text shows that the end of captivity and the beginning of a society without slavery were marked by bitter tensions between ex-masters and ex-slaves. For those who came out of slavery, establishing themselves as free implied challenging the behavior of ex-masters who wanted to control their movements, punish them, and maintain a work discipline that was very similar to slavery. The episodes analyzed in this chapter show that the freed people did their utmost to find alternatives to working in the sugarcane fields and to affirm their right of access to and use of the resources on the properties where they had been enslaved.