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Historia Crítica

versão impressa ISSN 0121-1617


LEAL LEON, Claudia. A port in the jungle. Nature and race in the formation of the city of Tumaco , 1860-1940 . hist.crit. [online]. 2005, n.30, pp.39-65. ISSN 0121-1617.

The history behind the building of Tumaco, a port on the southern Pacific coast of Colombia , reveals the contradictions associated with this rainforest city's reliance on natural resource extraction and export. The riches produced by the export of the seeds of the tagua palm (used to make buttons) did not create a metropolis in the jungle, but rather a small and unpromising city. The causes lied on the limited volume of the trade and the low value of the seed, plus the lack of processing and economic diversification. The city's character was further determined by racial tensions that stemmed from a racial division of labor and the associations the white elite made between race and nature. For this group, blacks belonged to the jungle, where they gathered tagua, and not to the city, where they comprised the majority of the population. This study of a rainforest city enriches the growing field of Latin American environmental history and connects it to other bodies of literature, such as the recent works on Latin America 's racial dynamics.

Palavras-chave : Colombia; Tumaco; jungle; tagua or vegetable ivory; extractive economy; city; race; Afro-Colombian.

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