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Psicologia em Estudo

Print version ISSN 1413-7372On-line version ISSN 1807-0329

Psicol. Estud. vol.25  Maringá  2020  Epub June 19, 2020 



Saulo Luders Fernandes2  3

Dolores Cristina Gomes Galindo4

Liliana Parra Valencia5

2Universidade Federal de Alagoas (UFAL), Palmeira dos Índios-AL, Brazil.

4Universidade Federal do Mato Grosso (UFMT), Cuiabá-MT, Brazil.

5Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia (UCC), Bogotá, Colômbia.


The present study is part of a field research and is characterized by a qualitative, exploratory case study, whose objective was to analyze the performance of the quilombola identity in the daily life of women from a quilombo in the agreste of the State of Alagoas. The research was conducted in four stages: 1 - literature review; 2- insertion in the research field; 3 - collection and analysis of information; 4- feedback of the research to the participants and the community. The participants were 03 women: 01 young (20 years), 01 adult (47 years) and 01 elderly (71 years). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with two themes: daily life experiences as black quilombola women; and the meanings produced by interviewees about the quilombola identity. After transcription, the interviews were analyzed by content analysis methods and produced two thematic categories: a) experiences of oppression of black quilombola women; b) diversity of meaning about quilombola identity. Women understand the quilombo as a place of affirmation of their ways of life as black women, as well as a place of reproduction of logics of oppression against the intersectionality of ethnic-racial and gender markers. There was also a generational difference as to the way of understanding the quilombola identity in the life of the young woman and the elderly participant. It is necessary to understand the specificities with which each community and its members interpret the quilombola identity in their lives and activities, in the understanding that it can work as an enhancer in the affirmation of these black territories.

Keywords: Ethnic identity; daily; women


O presente trabalho é parte de uma pesquisa de campo e caracteriza-se por um estudo de caso de caráter qualitativo exploratório, que teve por objetivo analisar a atuação da identidade quilombola no cotidiano de mulheres de um quilombo do agreste de Alagoas. A pesquisa foi realizada em quatro etapas sendo elas: 1- revisão bibliográfica; 2- inserção no campo de pesquisa; 3- coleta e análise das informações; 4- devolutiva da pesquisa às participantes e comunidade. As participantes da pesquisa foram três mulheres: uma jovem (20 anos), uma adulta (47 anos) e uma idosa (71 anos). Foram realizadas entrevistas semiestruturadas com dois temas: as vivências do cotidiano enquanto mulheres negras quilombolas; e os sentidos produzidos pelas entrevistadas sobre a identidade quilombola. Após transcritas, as entrevistas foram submetidas à análise de conteúdo que permitiu a produção de duas categorias temáticas: a) as vivências de opressão de mulheres negras quilombolas; b) diversidade de sentido sobre a identidade quilombola. As narrativas das mulheres permitiram compreender o quilombo como lugar de afirmação de seus modos de vida enquanto mulher negra, bem como o espaço de reprodução de lógicas de opressão frente à interseccionalidade dos marcadores étnico-raciais e de gênero. Houve também diferença geracional quanto ao modo de compreensão da identidade quilombola na vida da jovem e da idosa participante. Cabe compreender as especificidades com que cada comunidade e seus membros interpretam a identidade quilombola em seu viver e fazer, no entendimento que ela pode atuar como um potencializador na afirmação destes territórios negros.

Palavras-chave: Identidade étnica; cotidiano; mulheres


El presente trabajo es parte de una investigación de campo y se caracteriza por un estudio de caso de carácter cualitativo exploratorio, que tuvo por objetivo analizar la actuación de la identidad quilombola en la cotidianidad de mujeres de un quilombo del agreste de Alagoas. La investigación fue realizada en cuatro etapas siendo ellas: 1- revisión bibliográfica; 2- inserción en el campo; 3- recolección y análisis de la información; 4- devolución de la investigación a las participantes y comunidad. Las participantes de la investigación fueron 03 mujeres: 01 joven (20 años), 01 adulta (47 años) y 01 anciana (71 años). Se realizaron entrevistas semiestructuradas con dos temas: las vivencias de lo cotidiano como mujeres negras quilombolas y los sentidos producidos por las entrevistadas sobre la identidad quilombola. Después de transcritas, las entrevistas fueron sometidas al análisis de contenido que permitió la producción de dos categorías temáticas: a) las vivencias de opresión de mujeres negras quilombolas; b) diversidad de producciones de sentido sobre la identidad quilombola. Las narrativas de las mujeres permitieron comprender el quilombo como lugar de afirmación de sus modos de vida como mujeres negras, así como, espacio de reproducción de lógicas de opresión frente a la interseccionalidad de los marcadores étnico-raciales y de género. También hubo una diferencia generacional en cuanto al modo de comprensión de la identidad quilombola en la vida de la joven y de la anciana participante. Cabe comprender las especificidades con que cada comunidad y sus miembros interpretan la identidad quilombola en su vivir y hacer, en el entendimiento que ella puede actuar como un potencializador en la afirmación de estos territorios negros.

Palabras clave: Identidad étnica; cotidiano; mujeres


There is a diversity of social and political discourses on quilombos, each one given by a certain group, located in a time and social locus, which determines different interpretations and actions in view of their understanding. For the Lords of the colonial period, the quilombo was understood as the place of runaway slaves. For black women who sought freedom, the quilombo was understood as a place of struggle and resistance, a collective territory for the appropriation of land that enabled equality among its peers. For the black movement, the quilombo can be understood as the organization of black communities that resist with specific traditions and histories in their territories and seek the guarantee of their rights and the land vis-à-vis the Brazilian state. For some social scientists, the quilombo is defined as a territory of common use that allows the exercise of community life in possible bonds of solidarity among its residents.

All of these speeches contribute to the production of quilombo in the Brazilian social imagination, speeches that act not only as representations of what a quilombo would be, but as interpretative practices that invent and reinvent quilombo in everyday life.

Thus, there is the first impasse to be faced by the quilombola population, which is the right to assert their identity from themselves, from their way of life and not through another: state, scientific knowledge or oligarchic discourses. Against a naive reflection, it is understood that the affirmation of their identity goes through processes of negotiation, as well as dispute in front of these sectors of power, sometimes seeking some as allies, sometimes facing others for the legitimacy of the recognition of their identity and guarantee their rights. The tension between policies of identity and identity affirmation is present in different traditional peoples and in struggle for territory (Leite & Dimenstein, 2010).

The political struggle of quilombola communities occurs in a field of ambiguities between the possibility of access to land and the affirmation of their identity, and, at the same time, the protection of their ways of life by the state, and the objectification of their lives by the market, which exploits traditional ways of living as marketable products (Santos, Massola, Silva, & Svartman, 20). It is in this ambiguous field that the struggle and the guarantee of rights to quilombola communities is produced.

As Brah (2006) states, minority groups are responsible for the dynamism of political relations in a given society. Political minorities, with their collective experiences and differentiated ways of life, open fields of rupture to the established social models, allowing the emergence of alterities that were not previously seen, or prevented from recognition. This struggle not only marks the recognition of the marginalized social group, but locates in its counterpoint, in a dialectic of oppression, the hegemonic social group and the relations of domination that it extends to society

The struggle of minority groups inserts alterity into the dynamics of social life, which requires that the dominant structures that act on a way of life intended to be universal human, other ways of living, possible and necessary to be affirmed and contemplated to human dignity. Such dignity needs diversity to exist, so that it does not fall on a universalizing framework that violates and seeks to subdue ways of life that do not share its ideas (Brah, 2006).

These other ways of living impose emerging subjective-political productions, understood not as an individualized and circumscribed subjectivity to the individual, but as a field that is erected by daily and collective experiences of oppression. The subjective-political productions seek to demystify the experiences of oppression, translating them into domination, in asymmetrical relations of power, resources and actions, which must be overcome by the resistance tactics produced by marginalized social groups, which, on the life of oppression, seek to invent their ways of living and resisting.

Thus, the processes of domination take place beyond the dynamism of political economy, and intertwine psychosocial mechanisms that act in the intersubjective productions of everyday life in an unequal way, through the non-recognition of oppressed groups, in denial of their needs and their specific forms to live and interpret the world. This leads to the violation of their rights and consequent practices of physical and symbolic violence.

It is on these relationships of domination that quilombola communities produce their actions and lives. The definition of what a quilombola community is goes through a long-standing political and historical plot and does not occur in a linear and punctual way. As a social phenomenon, its definition follows the political conjunctures of a certain historical time, being remodeled with each use and modified by the various discourses that incorporate and enunciate it (Arruti, 2009).

Quilombola women are black peasant women, but their definition is not linked only to the way of being a peasant, it is linked to the ethnic-racial and gender categories. The experiences of inequality experienced by quilombola women and the neglect of their basic rights are daily crossed by this racial and gender intersection, as well as their forms of socio-cultural expression and political forms of resistance, which allow their collective organization and subjective insurgencies. The formation of quilombos from the colonial to the contemporary period is linked to the violence derived from a racist ideology that dehumanizes black men and black women and locates them as an infra-human category, which justifies and authorizes violence, which fixes identity policies and promotes the appropriation of their territories as merchandise (Fernandes & Santos, 2016).

After the legislation of the Federal Constitution of 1988, with art. 68 and its advances in 2003 with Presidential Decree 4.4887/2003, which formalizes the guarantee of the right to land and recognition to quilombola communities through their self-allocation, the processes of recognition of quilombola communities across the country are encouraged, having its peak in 2006 with the recognition of 400 communities. With the recognition processes, communities’ struggles for the sovereignty of their territories and the guarantee of access to their basic rights are taken over (Fernandes & Santos, 2016).

In this political journey, fighting for land and guaranteeing fundamental rights, quilombola communities fail to express only a folkloric place, in which culture must be preserved, and become political protagonists who demand their territory, their due recognition and material conditions so that their ways of life can continue. They move on to an activism that brings together with other social movements a national scenario of political struggle in guaranteeing their citizenship with: the landless, homeless, indigenous and black movement (Arruti, 2009).

Political identity and struggle for recognition

According to Fernandes and Munhoz (2013), faced with the rights conquered after the federal constitution of 1988, the construction of the quilombola identity occurs as a political process of remodelation of the quilombo concept for the historical moment of the present, with a reinterpretation that updates the political disputes of the past to the local reality of the current quilombola communities, revealing these territories as places of resistance marked by historical trajectories of struggle against oppression. The recognition present in Art. 68 of the 1988 Federal Constitution, triggers the re-creation of the rural black territories, which, although already existing, are now challenged by the quilombo category, which modify them in the way of thinking about their own existence and their relations.

The continuity and survival of contemporary quilombos requires the search for respect and dignity, in the formation of an identity that is produced in the course of political confrontation. An identity that is not given a priori, but modified according to the political needs that are at stake. The concept of identity that enters the scene is not one that is defined only by endogenous relationships, limited to the individuals who participate in this community. On the contrary, the identity process that is dealt with here is constructed as a phenomenon antagonistic to the experienced domination, which takes place over certain historical, political and social determinants. In other words, the quilombola identity is defined by the power relations that are launched on the quilombos, as a political need to build ways of confronting hegemonic forces.

The ways in which each quilombola community appropriates the concept of quilombo is decisive in the way they manage their identity and community life. There is no identity given to quilombola communities, there is an attempt to build a common plan that brings together their ways of being and existing in the struggle for rights. Identity can be defined as a process that allows the individual, in the relationship with his/her peers, to define symbolic and intersubjective references that, when shared with each other, as stated by Melluci (2004), allow a process of differentiation from other groups, and identification with their pairs, in a group feeling that distinguishes us and them. Thus, the encounter of the quilombola category with life in quilombola communities becomes an organizing force for the identity formations of rural black communities, in the configuration of quilombola identity as a political field for affirming the differences and needs of a certain ethnic-racial group in the face of others.

It is necessary to understand the identity beyond the social role given to the individual in his/her socialization processes, which range from the relationships in family units to the institutions in which he/she is inserted and participate. In the understanding that we propose here, identity acquires a political character, as an instance that produces itself and is produced in view of the power relations that are imposed on the individuals and collectives of their belonging; and, it is about these relationships that the meanings and senses of identities are produced and shared by their peers (Castells, 2008). In the case of rural black communities, the forms of appropriation of quilombola identity are presented as a political category that is related to the varied historical forces, strategies of domination and power relations that affect their territory, their community and their group.

As stated by Fernandes and Munhoz (2013), identity presents with a political inventive field, as a place of creation for the marginalized, who in the struggle for their recognition invent other ways of existence. A political identity is not discovered, it is made and remade in the face of historical conditions that overcome it and the desire for transformation of those who participate in it.

According to Santos (2003), those who claim identity are the groups that are deprived of it, who need through it to seek its recognition, to face a hegemonic ordering, which thought as universal prevents the emergence of other possible projects of society. Thus, political identity can be defined as the emergence in collectives and minority groups of these possible projects of society, which in addition to the subjectification of their social identities, produce a collective political plot that allows the confrontation of the hegemonic social order in creation and invention other realities.

Gender, race-ethnicity and life in the field: conditions and life, and daily struggles of quilombola women

According to Fernandes and Santos (2016), the precarious living conditions in quilombos are due to the structural forms of exclusion experienced by these communities in Brazil, which are persistently neglecting access to their fundamental rights. Such structural violations of rights increase the vulnerability of the quilombola population, providing them with few resources to solve their problems, which consequently lead to less resolving answers to the problems faced in their daily lives.

These conditions of vulnerability become even more present when it comes to the lives of quilombola women, as they carry at least two markers of oppression that determine their experiences of inequality: being a woman and a black woman. The categories of gender and race-ethnicity affect the experiences of quilombola women, sometimes making their experiences of oppression invisible, as they naturalize the roles they play socially within their communities, roles such as: being a mother, wife, working in household chores, in the fields, in animal husbandry, in the care of the health of their families, among others. This multiplicity of social activities is not seen as work done by women, but as socialized obligations since childhood in their social condition of being a woman in the quilombo (Fernandes & Santos, 2016).

In addition to the naturalization of social roles performed by quilombola women in their communities, as stated by Riscado, Oliveira and Brito (2010), there is also the trivialization of the experiences of violence experienced by these women, which come to be understood in the community as intradomiciliary and domestic problems, disregarding the social and collective factors that determine these experiences of suffering.

Thus, the social markers of gender and race/ethnicity focus on the experiences of inequality of quilombola women, superimposing on their lives some social markers of oppression that configure their condition of life between racial and gender experiences. In order to think critically about the experiences of these black and peasant women, the concept of intersectionality should be used, as an understanding that brings about the deepening of the experiences of oppression experienced by the individuals in their daily lives, overlapping social markers of inequality that affect their lives in accessing assets, resources and rights (Wane, 2013).

Intersectionality disrupts the ideological and universalist understanding of the human, at the moment when it pluralizes the experience of the individuals in the face of the various social markers that affect their way of living and relating in social life. Therefore, there is no human reference for the ways of living and existing when intersectionality is the guide, on the contrary, it is prioritized to make visible the different human experiences of oppression that are outlined in the web of everyday life relationships.

This intersectional understanding presented by Wane (2013) is in agreement with the reports of the daily life of Brazilian quilombola women, as stated by Souzas (2015), Souza and Araújo (2014), which are marked by a triple shift of domestic, agricultural and paid work in the cities; in the responsibilities of caring for the family, with the creation and in the affective and economic maintenance of the house. These varied activities become invisible when they are registered in a naturalized way within the community. In addition to these naturalizations, quilombola black women face, both in the community and outside, experiences of racial prejudice and discrimination, as stated by Riscado, Oliveira and Brito (2010), who make them vulnerable in access to goods and resources.

This invisibility produces a contradiction in the lives of women and in the reality of quilombos, since their way of life is essential for the management and maintenance of the daily lives of families and community life in quilombos, which permeate political, economic, and social aspects, as well as care for life. As stated by Souza and Araújo (2014), in the political field, quilombola women are community leaders and heads of families; as for the economic maintenance, they produce in the fields, in the raising of animals and in work outside the community; it is through them that local culture and knowledge is perpetuated by transmitting this knowledge acquired in the daily life of community life to other members of the community; and yet, they guarantee the health care of their families and neighbors, through traditional health practices passed down from generation to generation.

Based on these varied activities and on the knowledge they hold about the quilombo’s life, women present themselves as agents in the struggle for the guarantee of fundamental rights, as it is in their daily lives that they face situations that need resolvability and strategies to overcome the problems experienced. Moreover, women are the agents who are linked to the equipment and public services that are installed in the quilombola territory, such as: basic health unit, full-time schools and reference centers for social assistance. In view of these varied experiences, they carry with them knowledge capable of critical political action for reflection and for the transformation of quilombola communities to which they belong (Souza & Araújo, 2014).

In view of these contradictions experienced by quilombola women, between the invisibility of the functions exercised in community life and the importance of their political actions for the maintenance of quilombo living, this research sought to understand how quilombola identity is produced by quilombo women of the agreste of the State of Alagoas.

Paths for research development

The present study is part of a doctoral thesis and is characterized by a qualitative, descriptive exploratory research in a quilombola community in the agreste of the State of Alagoas, recognized for more than five years, with active quilombola association, a Basic Health Unit and a Full-time School installed in their territory. The main activity of the community is agriculture, planting cassava, beans and tobacco, which are for their own consumption and sold at local fairs.

The research was carried out in four stages, namely: 1- literature review, carried out through the CAPES journal portal via CAFe, with the keywords quilombos, identidade and comunidades quilombola, identidade; 2- insertion in the research field, carried out at the beginning of 2015, with the objective of dialoguing on the study proposal with the community leaders and with the residents who attended the quilombo community association; 3- collection and analysis of information, which began in mid-2015, through a field diary and semi-structured interviews. The interviews were conducted with 03 women from the community: 01 young person of 20 years old, 01 adult of 47 years old and 01 elderly woman of 71 years old. The search for key informants had as selection criteria: generational differences between the participants and their active political participation in the community; 4- feedback of the research to the participants and community, held in mid-2016, made to each participant and more broadly in a meeting at the community association with a proposal for thematic discussion on the research analyses.

The instrument used for the production of the information was semi-structured interviews that had triggering questions about: the daily experiences as black quilombola women and the meanings produced by the interviewees about quilombola identity. The three interviews carried out were transcribed and analyzed by content analysis methods that allowed the production of two thematic categories: a) the experiences of oppression of black quilombola women: intersectionality between gender, race and ethnicity; b) diversity of understandings and production of meaning about quilombola identity.

In the research process, the study participants were informed about the research objectives, procedures and instrument. The interview was carried out after the signature in two copies, of the Free and Informed Consent and the study was submitted and approved by the Research Ethics Committee of the University of São Paulo 30892514.0.0000.5561.

Result and discussion

The experiences of oppression of black quilombola women: intersectionality between gender, race and ethnicity

This thematic category emerged at the beginning of the interview process, at the moment when the conversation with the interviewees began, asking them: what was it like to live in that community, how did they see their life in that territory, how was their daily life. These questions evoked memories, stories from the past and everyday scenes of experiences as black quilombola women. Different discourses emerge in the face of these experiences, but they have a common field of connection: the intersectionality of oppression of gender and race-ethnicity experienced by the participants. In order to safeguard the anonymity of the participants, all names used in the analysis are fictitious.

The narratives of the scenes experienced in the interviewees’ daily lives are marked by the intersectionality between race-ethnicity and gender, given the statements that being a woman in the community is responsible for many tasks that are naturalized and imposed on the woman’s work. These responsibilities will result in limitations on the autonomy of women’s choices in their daily lives and consequent illnesses, as narrated by Antônia (47 years old):

Today if we are going to analyze the history of women here in the community, there are a lot of sick women, even getting sick, because their heads can’t take it, because they are single mothers, others are married and she is the person who assumes all responsibility for the house, the farm, for the family’s daily life. The worst that anyone thinks this is work. Many concerns, today they have high blood pressure, developed diabetes, nervous diseases.

As the narrative of Josefa, 71-year-old, complements about the illnesses she lived and her experiences as a woman: “I have this kind of diabetes, and mine is the most restless, which is nervous. I had that from so much that I lived. It is not easy to be a woman. When I’m angry, heartbreak. Then put it to death [laughs]. I am very nervous”.

These experiences of inequality are also highlighted in the narrative of Débora (20 years old), a young woman from the community, who brings with her a political discourse that demystifies the relations of racial and gender oppression present in the community:

Here on the farm, people have the thing of machismo. ‘Man cannot wash the dish; man cannot sweep the house’. Because here the woman goes to the fields, washes dishes, takes care of her children. Not the men, they just go to the fields. The woman never stops. In addition to thinking that black women are strong, they resist everything and can do much more. Here the woman is a woman and a man, twice. In addition to the cases of violence that the woman suffers, which here on the farm is common to find out about (emphasis added).

In the face of the narratives presented, being a woman means launching yourself into a social environment that forces you to be ‘woman and man, twice’. Machismo is not only experienced in the activities to be performed, it is found as a structure that organizes the lives of these quilombola women, in order to standardize their tasks and responsibilities. She becomes an object and instrument that must take care of the family, the husband, domestic and work chores. Such rationality seeks to prevent autonomy over hre life.

The narratives point to intersectional experiences of oppression and violence experienced by black women in the quilombo, as they have a stronger body capable of bearing more activities and other tasks. Such naturalizing conceptions make quilombola black women the instrument of a rationality that justifies the violence suffered, and even as Débora (20 years old) says, blames her for the problems experienced in the family and in community life:

If she plays the man role twice, I think her health is not very well, it is not going very well. Many women here suffer from nervous problems. If the son does something he shouldn’t, the mothers put it on their heads and worry, while the fathers don’t, they blame everything on the mother. If there is something wrong in the house, it is the mother’s fault. If the husband looks bad too. Here at the farm, it’s all the mother’s fault.

The objectification and instrumentalization of women stand out expressively in the narrative of Débora (20 years old), when she restricts the role of woman in the community to that of mother, as if being a woman was synonymous with being a mother. Such a reduction is interpreted in white culture from the imposition of the myth of maternal love (Badinter, 1985), a category that is not enough to think about the ways of life of the black quilombola woman crossed by racism, violence and impoverishment. In the speech of Débora and other quilombo women, the objectification of the body as a reproductive apparatus occurs detached from the ideal that motherhood expresses the fulfillment of an unconditional love linked to a nuclear family, as the care networks of children have strong community roots. It should be noted that if, on the one hand, the reduction of quilombola women to maternity denotes their patriarchal instrumentalization as one that guarantees biological descent and intergenerational cultural transmission in the quilombo, on the other, it points, paradoxically, to a break with the colonial patriarchal legacy which reserves the role of ‘black mothers’ for black women (Gonzalez, 2008), who care for the children of agrarian elites. These women find themselves in an ambivalent and sickening scenario that displaces them from the role of ‘black mothers’, but keeps them subjected to compulsory motherhood in the context of violent patriarchal relations of sexist oppression (Riscado, Oliveira & Brito, 2010). In this way, the imposition of compulsory maternity leads to the illness of quilombo women and has a direct impact on the health of these women who report cases of ‘nervous diseases’. Compulsory motherhood integrates a mode of patriarchal social organization based on the exploitation of women’s bodies in a daily exercise of ‘cruelty pedagogies’ (Segato, 2016).

The naturalization of gender oppression experienced by black women in the studied quilombo is similar to that of women from a quilombo in the center-west of the State of Bahia investigated by Souzas (2015), who shows that the violence and discrimination experienced are understood as part of their lives, as a role to be exercised and tolerated. This understanding is also present in the study by Silva (2016), which states that quilombola women surveyed still need to overcome the oppressive relationships present in family life.

Quilombola identity: the construction of a double bond and the generational differences between quilombola women

When the interview entered the discussions about the identity definitions and the self-assignment of the interviewees as quilombola women, a common understanding was presented: the construction of a double link with the territory and with the quilombola identity. This double bond is identified when they, at the same time as they affirm, that the discourse of quilombola identity is what enabled them: a field of political recognition for the expression of their differences, and, as Aguiar (2018) points out, the process of affirmation of their community knowledge and the struggle to guarantee their rights; however, this identity bond and belonging is identified as a place that launches them to the experiences of inequality, in the face of the other’s gaze that objectify and racially define them in a pejorative way. Such experiences of prejudice and discrimination are recognized by the participants who insert them in their ambivalent narratives of struggle for affirmation as quilombola women:

I see it like this, two moments. At first you live in the black community and the prejudice was very strong, as people called ‘black area’, but even then I don’t remember saying I didn’t like living here, because in fact, it is in this place that I became people and who I am today, a quilombola woman (Antônia, 47 years old, emphasis added).

The ambivalence between the statement as a quilombola woman and racial prejudice appears in an expressive way in the narrative of Josefa (71 years old), who during the interview, presented conflicts and attempts to negotiate about the ways of understanding quilombola identity in her life, in the face of varied experiences of humiliation and discrimination lived by belonging to the black territory:

At the beginning, I didn’t want to be a black quilombola. Now, if I’m saying that I didn’t want to be black, what am I saying? I’m putting my quality back, right? It’s hard. It's difficult, do you know why? Because I see here on television what people do with black people. There is a place that even kills blacks. See? And there are many things I experienced - how do you say? - what people say, make fun of the other [...] Prejudice (Josefa, 71 years old).

Their experiences are surrounded by this duplicity of lives, which now resume their ethnic-racial and territorial belonging as a possibility of recognition with their peers, as a place of resources that enables the reproduction of life and the invention of their ways of being and existing, and at the same time, this same belonging, when challenged by relations of domination/oppression, launch them into experiences of inequality that are marked in their memories.

As Martins (2010) states, the history of rural workers is marked by acts of violence, forms of inequality and marginalization practices originating from the white man, who, through their technological and legal apparatus, impose on them a civilizing project that must be followed, as a requirement for these populations to be accepted. This life built among conflicts, structural inequalities and demands for acceptance in the world of whites, can generate in these populations a life of duplicity and ambiguities that bear the mark of western white hegemony. However, as stated by Rivera-Cusicanqui (2010), these attempts at domination are never completely done, those subjected to the logic of domination produce resistance tactics that do not respond only to the orders of the dominators, but to the emerging needs and capacities of their populations and realities to reinvent themselves in the face of the parameters that seek to colonize them.

According to Rivera-Cusicanqui (2010), Latin American peoples have their way of living forged in the encounter with a colonial project that is intended to be hegemonic, but that has never been fully achieved. Latin American communities produce a space for combining their political horizons, which, despite meeting with the colonial project, is not its final product. At the same time that they combine the colonial logics, they make them in a tactical movement of subversion of these rationalities, managing them in their own ways. A production that should not be confused with a linear syncretism, but as a process that presents ruptures and different uses for the affirmation of its living, at the same time that it is also configured as a process in which differences and distinctions disappear.

Despite this common element narrated by the three interviewees regarding the production of a double bond in the way of experiencing a quilombola identity, there are striking generational differences between the narratives of Débora (20 years old) and Antônia (47 years old) in the face the speech of Josefa (71 years old) in the way the quilombola identity category produced their political practices and daily struggles.

Débora (20 years old) and Antônia (47 years old) narrate that the identity processes produced by the quilombola category configured in their way of living a psychopolitical field that allowed them to: reinterpret their territory, redo the reading of the history of their community, affirm their ethnic-racial identity and fight for the guarantee of their rights. As follows in the excerpts of the interviews:

After the community was recognized as a quilombola, things changed here. At school, they have projects to affirm their black identity. Now we know our rights. When I go to the city, I just go to study, it is not a place I want to stay. I myself am studying to be a teacher here. I have no plans to marry early like other girls, I want to be a quilombola teacher (Debora, 20 years old).

Today I feel proud to be a quilombola woman, from this land. We are thus, a black people and we have our rights. Right to speak about our community. Once a student spoke to the teacher here: ‘the whole year, from time to time, you speak in black’ and the teacher replied: ‘You enrolled in this school, in a black community, you will hear about black people, this theme will always be present, is part of yours and our history’ (Antônia, 47 years old, emphasis added).

In a different way, the narrative of Josefa (71 years old) presented certain resistance regarding the identification with the term quilombo, which for the same referred to the period of slavery and the shame of being part of an ethnic-racial group that lived this process, interpreted by her, in a humiliating way. However, their interpretations do not escape the ambiguities and contradictions generated by the quilombo’s political identity discourses as a territory of resistance and affirmation of the struggle of the black population. These speeches make her rethink her way of living as a black woman, which produces contradictions and tension towards possibilities for the affirmation of her ethnic-racial identity:

As I told you, it was not easy to think that we are quilombola here. This quilombola thing recalls the days of slavery. It is difficult to be proud of being a slave. Being proud of my hair is not easy. I don’t know how these girls today have courage. Now, if I were young, I would do like them, put a hair this size on my head and go around [laughs]. It was going to be beautiful (Josefa, 71 years old).

These generational differences about quilombola identity are in line with the study by Valentim and Trindade (2011), carried out in a quilombola community in the State of Espírito Santo, which showed that contact with discussions about quilombola identity did not significantly change the ways in which the elderly in this community understand the political reality of their territory. Conversely, it occurs with young people and adults who produces quilombola identity as a necessary process to guarantee the rights of their community, in the affirmation of their history, culture and ethnic-racial belonging.

The conception of generation of Mannhein (1993) can help in understanding these different narratives marked by the interviewees’ generational belonging. For the author, generational transformations are not just the result of a mere natural phenomenon linked to age and the straight birth time, much less, to formations produced only by the cultural reality of an era. They are at the level of relations between social and political forces of individuals and collectives, which, when born in a given time, are available to different historical conditions, equipment, technologies, cultural contexts, which sometimes limit and sometimes open possibilities for the interpretation of their experiences about reality.

Generational transformations cannot be reduced simply to the biological determination of birth, but to the intersection of this event coupled with the social position and political tensions that the individuals and collectivities cross at a given time. Such crossings can enable individuals and groups to maintain or break with their traditions, beliefs and values.

Thus, the quilombola identity triggers different subjective political devices in the interviewees, conditioned on the generational positions occupied by each one, which they now understand to be a quilombola as the need to recognize their ethnic-racial identity, and with it the struggle for the guarantee of fundamental rights for quilombola women; and now they identify the mention of the quilombo to the suffering experienced in the past, which for the elderly is not so far from the experiences experienced in her life as a black woman. However, the narrative of quilombola identity present in the community inserts in the elderly woman’s discourse a tension field, capable of producing ruptures to the racial hegemonic model. At the moment when she mentions the possibility of affirming her afro hair and consequently her black quilombola identity, as young and adult women in the community are doing.

The quilombola category updates black women with political identities that demand a new reading of the ethnic-racial domination processes experienced by rural black communities. The conquest of rights to quilombola communities, legitimized by Art.68 of the 1988 Federal Constitution and in the Decree nº 4.887/2003, enabled emergencies of these political identities, which reinterpreted the rural black territories, in the recognition and affirmation of the ethnic-racial identity of this population.

Final considerations

The present research allowed to understand from the interviewees’ narratives that the quilombo is described as an ambiguous place, the one that is possible for the production of their way of life as a black woman, and that presents in their daily life, oppression relationships that are achieved through the intersectionality between the ethnic-racial and gender markers. Markers that seek to delimit their experiences as black women violating access to their rights, neglecting the respect for their autonomy and naturalizing the gender roles exercised in the daily life of the community.

A striking difference was the way of producing quilombola identity between different generations, and for young and adult participants, being quilombola was attributed the sense of affirming their blackness and the struggle to guarantee the rights of black women. The elderly woman, on the other hand, presented ambiguities in her identification as quilombola, attributing to this identity the difficulties and sufferings experienced as a black woman from the field. Nevertheless, this position did not become linear and tight, on the contrary, it presented with negotiations and contradictions, which, even in the face of ambiguities, presents positions of the desire to affirm the black and quilombola identity.

It is worth questioning what resources are available to each individual that allow to demystify the experiences of inequality lived, in the face of the reality to reframe their way of life, in actions that seek to affirm their needs and transform reality in the process of integrating these dubious experiences in the totality of everyday experience.

The struggle for recognition does not end with the achievement of the quilombola identity affirmation, but through this, even in the face of tension and contradictions, to outline political objectives that guarantee the effectiveness of the rights and the visibility of the quilombola black women.


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1Support and funding: Universidade de São Paulo (USP).

Received: October 22, 2018; Accepted: May 28, 2019


Saulo Luders Fernandes: Master in Psychology from the State University of Maringá (UEM). Psychologist from the State University of Maringá (UEM). He completed a doctorate in Social Psychology at the University of São Paulo (USP). He started as a professor in 2009 in the psychology course at the Federal University of Alagoas - Campus Arapiraca. Conducts research and extension projects in the area of social psychology with an emphasis on fighting and guaranteeing the rights of traditional, quilombola, indigenous communities and movements for fighting for land in the region of the agreste of Alagoas. He is tutor of the Tutorial Education Program (PET) Center for Studies of the Semi-Arid Alagoas (NESAL) which aims to carry out research, teaching projects and extension social and political demands of the traditional communities of Ingressou in the year 2017 as a teacher of the postgraduate program psychology undergraduate degree at UFAL in research line 2: Health, Clinic and Psychological Practices.

Dolores Cristina Gomes Galindo: Master in Social Psychology from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo - PUCSP. Psychologist by the Federal University of Pernambuco -UFPE. He completed a doctoral internship in the Graduate Program in Social Psychology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona -UAB and a post-doctoral internship in Social Psychology at PUCSP. She works as a permanent professor in the Graduate Programs in Psychology and in Contemporary Culture Studies at the Federal University of Mato Grosso. She also works as a permanent professor in the Graduate Program in Psychology and Society at Universidade Estadual Paulista, Assis campus. She is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the Federal University of Mato Grosso. Leads the Science, Technology and Creation Research Group (LABTECC)

Liliana Parra Valencia: PhD in Social and Human Sciences (Pontificia Universidad Javeriana). Master in Social Psychology and Political Violence (University of San Carlos of Guatemala). Master in human sciences and societies of the 21st century (University of Barcelona). Specialization in Clinical Psychology (Universidad del Norte, Barranquilla). Researcher and teacher. Since 2013, he coordinates the Psycho-Peace Research (Psychology and social initiatives for peace in Colombia), of the Boulomai Group, Psychology Program (Cooperative University of Colombia). Caribbean heiress, granddaughter of the Quimbaya and Calima Indians, Afros, caboclos, Europeans, non-Europeans, Sephardic Jews, muleteers and peasants like Lilian, Inés, daughter of Ligia and José Edgar, sister of Martha, aunt of María José and niece of María José. Agnes.

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