Landscapes of Freedom is a meticulous and innovative study of slavery and the postemancipation decades on the Pacific coast of Colombia. In “the largest area in the Americas inhabited primarily by black people,” enslaved Africans and their descendants appropriated the tropical rain forest to achieve the highest levels of autonomy of almost anywhere in the enslaved Americas, Leal argues (p. 5). In the decades after abolition, Afro-Colombians maintained their hard-won autonomy by retaining control over the extraction of vegetable ivory (tagua), gold, and other forest products, despite the arrival of mining companies and tagua exporters from Colombia and other countries. The locals' command over the extractive economy of the region explains why intellectuals from the highlands saw it as a hostile and unhealthy green hell inhabited by an untamable black population—a process that Leal conceptualizes as a racialization of the landscape.

Leal's...

You do not currently have access to this content.