The People of the River

Falling Felines Book Cover

Oscar de la Torre

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The People of the River: Nature and Identity in Black Amazonia, 1835-1945 charts the understudied lives and livelihoods of Black farmers in Amazonia from the 19th Century through World War II. This prize-winning history tells of runaway communities hiding in the forest and fighting military expeditions, of oral myths about big snakes living under the water, and of massive revolts against land grabs in the Roaring Twenties. As they left behind slavery and became free farmers, Amazonian Blacks created a collective identity that has remained mostly invisible to historians and anthropologists, but that has played and continues to play a pivotal role in the region’s political and economic life.

In the early 21st Century, Black rural communities in Amazonia and all over Latin America have started an unstoppable political movement. With support from development agencies, NGOs, grassroots movements, and intellectuals, they have created institutions of self-government and ethnic reservations similar to those of Indigenous peoples. While their achievements are still recent, one question arising from the Global South casts a growing shadow over the Lowcountry areas of Georgia and the Carolinas: Can the Gullah people of the coastal Carolinas and Georgia learn something from the experience of Black farmers in Latin America?

Join us for Personally Speaking with De la Torre on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 where he will explore the implications of their history for the Gullah people and other Black farmers in the U.S.

Portrait of Oscar de la TorreDr. De la Torre is an associate professor in the Department of Africana Studies in UNC Charlotte’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. The People of the River (UNC Press 2019) won the 2019 “Outstanding First Book Award” from the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora and an honorable mention at the 2018-2020 Roberto Reis Book Prize. De la Torre has edited special issues and articles and has served as a book and article reviewer, for Hispanic American Historical Review, The Americas, The Journal of African American Studies, and Latin American Research Review, among others.

For more information about the Personally Speaking series, please visit the Personally Speaking website.