This article examines women’s erasure from the Spanish colonial imagination in South America. While Black women are completely absent in the official colonial narratives about the various frontier expeditions to Esmeraldas featured in documents housed at the Archivo General de Indias in Seville, Spain, they are certainly present in testimonial records in court archives in the American colonies, and often appear demanding their freedom. Meanwhile, in the Black Pacific, a territory always conceived as free despite the lack of written records, the African diaspora prospered with a river economy that still depends today on the health of rivers, mangroves, and the ocean. In the Chocó, women carried ancestral knowledge in chants, by planting, through cooking, praying, or fishing, sustaining the memory of a territory that conceived itself as outside master-slave relations. Yet Black women’s role in shaping national history is hard to trace. Oral history projects in Bojayá and Esmeraldas are trying to change that by bridging the digital archive, by using memory and orality as shields of truth, and by using traditional methods such as song and prayer to access the knowledge for resistance and re-existence that is needed today in the defense of the Chocó against deadly extractivist development. The encoding of women’s legacies in the Black Pacific serves as an example of how Blackness and freedom continue to be political concepts in this important diaspora that is developing decolonial methodologies that do not neatly fit in the confines of the Afropolitan, especially when it comes to class and migration.

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