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Smiths and smelters of Ilamba: a social history of iron production and of the Royal Foundry of Nova Oeiras (Angola, second half of 18th century)

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Crislayne Gloss Marão Alfagali
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Doctoral Thesis
Press: Campinas, SP.
Institution: Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Silvia Hunold Lara; Lucilene Reginaldo; Mariana Pinho Candido; Robert Wayne Andrew Slenes; Roquinaldo Amaral Ferreira
Advisor: Silvia Hunold Lara

This thesis analyzes the installation of an iron foundry in the region of Ilamba, in Angola hinterland, in the second half of the 18th century, and how it unfolded, from the point of view of African societies. The changes in labor relations were the most striking and ended up revealing exploitation modes of the work of the Ambundos, beyond slavery, imposed since the conquest. The study of the normative and practical sides of these transformations brings to the center of the narrative the representatives of the African political elite who constantly claimed their status as vassals to denounce the abuses they and their subjects suffered. Other aspects of the colonial relationships manifested during the construction of the Nova Oeiras foundry were the conflicts around mines and lands and the control of the manufacture and sale of iron objects. For the Africans, these natural resources and tools were meaningful beyond their economic value. The blacksmiths and smelters of Ilamba produced a high-quality iron, in the low furnaces, with their rustic implements. Their trajectory, as a group of artisans, was the guiding thread of the research, since it allowed to understand the disputes, conflicts, customs and traditions involving both the strategies of the Portuguese colonial dominion, as well as the forms of resistance, the invention of new practices, and the elaboration of discourses articulated by the Africans. By reducing the scale of the analysis, it is noticed that the local determinations had as much or more significant weight in the decisions taken at the seat of the Empire than the Illustrated ideas that marked the period. The clashes between the people of the sertão of Angola ¿ residents, sobas, the "sons", capitães-mores ("captain-major"), ilamba, imbari, traders, pumbeiros, smiths and smelters ¿ oriented the governmental guidelines in Luanda and emphasized the complex hierarchical networks of dominance relationships at the height of the slave trade. Finally, based on a reading of the sources that privileges the African point of view, the thesis proposes a new interpretation of the narratives of the failures of Nova Oeiras, considering that the Ambundos have devised successful strategies to maintain in their power the knowledge and the benefits metallurgy conferred (AU)

FAPESP's process: 13/12458-1 - Colonial projects, african experiences: the village of Nova Oeiras and its iron factory. Angola, the second half of the eighteenth century.
Grantee:Crislayne Gloss Marão Alfagali
Support Opportunities: Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate