Cimarrón Spirit: Afro-Dominican Maroon Culture

Documentary | Long-Form Video, Media | 0 comments

“In the Dominican Republic, as early as 1512, African slaves escaped from Spanish plantations and lived with the island’s Taino Indians or on their own in mountainous jungles in the remote frontier land of Hispaniola. These people who were known as “cimarrones,” meaning “maroons,” created their own independent communities that have survived for centuries and until recently remained isolated from mainstream Dominican society. These resilient and resourceful “outlaws” have long developed their own celebrations, many of which mock a society that enslaved and branded them.

Our documentary examines cimarron syncretic cultural celebrations and beliefs that are full of magic, fantasy and popular religiosity. We travel the cimarron regions of the Dominican Republic, near the cities of Elias Pina and Barahona, looking for Dominican Gaga troops and Haitian Rara bands. Traditionally separated by national borders, these religion-based musical forms are beginning to coincide.

Cimarron Spirit explores carnival traditions such as the ritualistic fire burning of the masks and costumes of “Judas,” “Cocoricamo,” and “Tifuas,” as figures important to the cimarron culture of Elias Pina. We also document the similar yet unique ritualistic practices around the figure of “Las Cachuas de Cabral” in the region of Barahona, and the popular “Los Negros de La Joya” and “El Peje” that so much reflect cimarron communal behaviors and beliefs.

Click “Watch” to access the documentary through Kanopy. Public Library card needed.


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