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Crisscrossing the Oyapock River: Entangled Histories and Fluid Identities in the French-Brazilian Borderland.

Authors:
 | 
Migrants, Refugees,
and Asylum Seekers in
Latin America
Edited By
Raanan Rein
Stefan Rinke
David M.K. Sheinin
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Contents
Acknowledgments
List of Contributors
1 Introduction1
Raanan Rein, Stefan Rinke, and David M.K. Sheinin
2 In Search of Wandering Husbands: Jewish Migration, Desertion,
and Divorce between Poland and Argentina, 1919–193917
Lelia Stadler
3 Indiference, Hostility, and Pragmatism: an X-Ray of Chilean Right-Wing
Attitudes toward Jews, 1932–194042
Gustavo Guzmán
4 Diplomacy and Ethnicity: Germans in Brazil (1933–1938)66
Vinícius Bivar
5 Constructing a Transnational Identity: the Three Phases of Palestinian
Immigration to Chile, 1900–195085
Hagai Rubinstein
6 Political Immigrants: the “Chileanization” of Arabs and Jews and Their
Class Subjectivities, 1930–1970108
Claudia Stern
7 Over the Rainbow: Costa Rica as a “Geography of Meaning” for
U.S. American Immigrants, 1945–1980131
Atalia Shragai
8 Unsafe Havens for Jewish-Argentine Migrants: the Rise and Fall
of the Third Peronist Government and the Traumatic Efects of the
1973 Yom Kippur War 160
Adrián Krupnik
9 Missing Jews: the Memory of Dictatorship in Argentina and the Jewish
Identity Diplomacy of José Siderman189
David M.K. Sheinin
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 
10 Crisscrossing the Oyapock River: Entangled Histories and Fluid
Identities in the French-Brazilian Borderland217
Fabio Santos
11 Together Un-united: Muslims in the Triple Frontier on the Defensive
against Accusations of Terrorism242
Omri Elmaleh
12 Los Muchachos Peronistas Japoneses: the Peronist Movement
and the Nikkei264
Raanan Rein, Aya Udagawa, and Pablo Adrián Vázquez
13 Identity Diversity among Chinese Immigrants and Their Descendants
in Buenos Aires291
Susana Brauner and Rayén Torres
14 “We Colombian Women Are Damned No Matter What We Do”:
an Analysis of Police Ocers’ Perceptions and Colombian Women’s
Experiences during Their Arrest in Ecuador309
Andrea Romo-Pérez
15 Concluding Essay: Rethinking Latin America in the New Ethnic
Studies326
J ürgen Buchenau and Jerry Dávila
Index351
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©  , , |:./_
 
Crisscrossing the Oyapock River: Entangled
Histories and Fluid Identities in the
French-Brazilian Borderland
Fabio Santos
The French-Brazilian borderland is a space of inextricable entanglements that
have crisscrossed and overlapped throughout history. For many social scien-
tists and scholars of the humanities, it may come as a surprise that France—by
way of its “overseas department,” French Guiana—shares its longest terres-
trial border with the Brazilian state of Amapá. Extending 730 kilometers (430
of which are formed by the Oyapock River), this rarely studied boundary on
the northeastern edge of the Amazon rainforest ofers illuminating insights
into the ways in which cross-border mobility has reected uid identities over
the course of the region’s silenced and entangled histories. In this chapter,
I seek to show that analyzing this geographical blind spot from a historical-
sociological and ethnographic perspective helps create a New Architecture
of Ethnic Studies (), which dees static notions of identity, thereby
reinforcing a relational approach to the study of cross-border relations and
histories among a multitude of individuals, including (fugitive) slaves, indig-
enous people, and Antillean migrants, as well as French and Brazilian convicts.
I use Guyane and French Guiana interchangeably. While the ocial designation is French
Guiana, locals and many academics prefer Guyane as a shorthand.
I draw on the approach of entangled histories, since it enables a relational understanding
beyond binary categories and methodological nationalism. See Shalini Randeria, “Geteilte
Geschichte und verwobene Moderne,” in Jörn Rüsen, Hanna Leitgeb, and Norbert Jegelka
eds., Zukunftsentwürfe: Ideen für eine Kultur der Veränderung (Frankfurt am Main: Campus,
1999), pp. 87–96. On the silencing of these entangled histories in the case of the EU’s
“Outermost Regions” (e.g. French Guiana) and “Overseas Countries and Territories” (e.g.
Netherlands Antilles), see Manuela Boatcă, “Caribbean Europe: Out of Sight, out of Mind?”
in Bernd Reiter ed., Constructing the Pluriverse: The Geopolitics of Knowledge (Durham:
Duke University Press, 2018), pp. 197–218. On French Guiana in particular, see Fabio Santos,
Re-Mapping Europe. Field Notes from the French-Brazilian Borderland,InterDisciplines.
Journal of History and Sociology 8, no. 2 (2017): 173–201.
Jefrey Lesser, “Remaking Ethnic Studies in the Age of Identities,” in Raanan Rein, Stefan
Rinke, and Nadia Zysman eds., The New Ethnic Studies in Latin America (Leiden: Brill, 2017),
pp. 7–15.
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 
Rather than examining several places along the Oyapock River, I focus on the
two border towns of Saint-Georges and Oiapoque, located opposite each other
near the river mouth. By combining ethnographic material with a thorough
analysis of secondary bibliography, my chapter proceeds along the following
lines: I rst provide an overview of the complex processes leading to the o-
cial demarcation of the French-Brazilian border in 1900. Second, I combine
an ethnographic vignette about one of Saint-Georges’ oldest buildings with an
analysis of the village’s foundation as a penal colony in the 1850s. Home to more
than one thousand captives of color, and a few whites in the aftermath of the
abolition of slavery (1848), Saint-Georges was not only the rst penal facility
in all of mainland French Guiana but also the rst non-indigenous settlement
along the Oyapock River. It was only fty years later that the opposite riverside
was permanently settled by French Antillean migrants, as will be described in
the third section of the chapter. Named after the origin of the majority of its
inhabitants, the newly founded village of Martinique saw an inux of diverse
people over the course of the following decades, including approximately
one thousand soldiers expelled to the northern edge of Brazil in the after-
math of the Revolta Paulista (1924). Despite its ocial demarcation in 1900,
the French-Brazilian border was comparatively uid, as were the identities
of the borderland’s inhabitants. This continued, as I will show in a fourth step,
well after the 1940s, when Martinique received its current name (Oiapoque)
and when French Guiana was turned into an “overseas department” of France
(1946). The latter shift resulted in a massive inux of migrants, especially from
Brazil. Identities in the borderland continue to be shaped across borders, defy-
ing simplistic attempts at ascribing xed categories to individuals.
1 Demarcating a Contested Border
Prevailing historical narratives of spatial re-(b)orderings in the region around
the Oyapock River usually begin with European “explorations” across the
coastal Guianas from the early sixteenth century onward. However, such narra-
tives ignore the fact that the region was home to a dense and complex network
of indigenous peoples prior to this watershed period. Indeed, the acknowl-
edgement of indigenous agency is a key to understanding the border struggles
between the Portuguese and French empires which led to the signing of a pro-
visional treaty in 1700. Historical research suggests that the French takeover of
Portuguese forts south of the Oyapock River (Parú and Macapá) in 1697 was
“only possible due to the collective and strategic support” of indigenous groups
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    - 
for the French. Shortly afterward, these struggles for land resulted in the pro-
visional treaty, which dened the border between the Portuguese and French
territories as a river called “Vicente Pinção/Vincent Pinçon.” In 1713, this pact
was ratied via the Treaty of Utrecht, conrming agreement to establish the
border between the French and Portuguese colonies in South America at the
“Pinção/Pinçon” River. Rather than solving the border conict, however, this
designation fueled a conict over interpretation: paradoxically, there was
no agreement as to which river was intended by this name. The Portuguese
(from 1822 onward: Brazilian) view consistently favored the Oyapock River
as the borderline, whereas French claims altered over time, wandering ever
more to the south. Imprecise labelling, the lack of clear legal borders and—
consequently—ongoing disputes over the course of borders was particularly
distinctive of “the Amazonia region which was hardly accessible, [and where]
jurisdiction was vague and undened. This situation was complicated by the
colonial penetration of powers from north-western Europe in the northern
coastal part of the Amazon, usually called the Guyanas.”
Both Portugal and France had a vital interest in securing access to the
Amazon River, which would enable fast links to distant regions. But for two
centuries—from the provisional agreement of 1700 to the nal demarcation
in 1900—the borderland remained contested territory that saw several shifts
and further “occupations,” such as the Portuguese invasion of all of Guyane
(1809–18) in order to counteract Napoleon’s invasion of Portugal (1807) in the
context of the Peninsular War. Again, historical research reveals that the colo-
nial administrations exploited enslaved Africans and indigenous people in
their deadly struggle for space.
Yet within this timeframe of 200 years leading to the nal demarcation in
1900 also falls a peculiar, little known period. Following a treaty of neutral-
ization (1841), the two parties decided to postpone the conict: “Brazil and
France had signed an agreement to allow settlement of the area between the
Silvia Espelt-Bombin, “Frontier Politics: French, Portuguese and Indigenous Interactions
between Cayenne and the Amazon, 1680‒1697,” In Sarah Wood and Catriona MacLeod eds.,
Locating Guyane (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2018), pp. 69–90.
Stéphane Granger, “Le Contesté franco-brésilien: enjeux et conséquences d’un conit oublié
entre la France et le Brésil,Outre-mers 98, no. 372 (2011): 157–77.
Michiel Baud, “State-Building and Borderlands,” in Arij Ouweneel, Pitou van Dijck and
Annelies Zoomers eds., Fronteras: Towards a Borderless Latin America (Amsterdam: ,
2000), pp. 41‒79, 47.
Flávio Gomes, “Other Black Atlantic Borders: Escape Routes, ‘Mocambos’, and Fears of
Sedition in Brazil and French Guiana (Eighteenth to Nineteenth Centuries),New West Indian
Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids 77, nos. 3–4 (2003): 253–87, 276.
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 
Araguari and the Oyapock, with neither nation having jurisdiction.” When
large amounts of gold were discovered in the late nineteenth century, this
“neutralized” territory drew around 20,000 gold prospectors from across the
Guianas, Brazil, and the Caribbean. An original account of that time conrms
the conicting potpourri of immigrants seeking gold: The Swiss-Brazilian nat-
ural scientist Emílio Goeldi stated:
The Creoles of Cayenne, Martinique, and Guadeloupe number in the
thousands; all commerce is in their hands and only gold and silver
are accepted—never Brazilian money. Besides these French, there are
English, Americans, Chinese, and Surinamese Dutch, and each nation
lives apart. Commerce is on a grand scale with everything arriving from
Cayenne on the steamships that dock once or twice a month, bring-
ing new adventurers from various nations in astounding numbers….
Everyone agrees that insecurity is endemic. In the mining district, it’s a
rare night that doesn’t see two, three, or four murders among the min-
ers, particularly by the Creoles of Cayenne, Martinique, and Guadeloupe,
who then escape downriver…. All gold goes to Cayenne.
For the , this citation is illuminating, as it ofers a detailed picture of ethnic
relations in the supposedly peripheral borderland. Yet given the competitive
business of gold-seeking, tensions were high, and the respective groups seem
to have been organized according to nationality. Hence, the gold rush of the
late nineteenth century not only triggered static conceptions of belonging but
also a revival of the French-Brazilian border dispute, culminating in deadly
confrontations. As a result, the governments of Brazil and France convened
a binational committee which agreed to allow a Swiss arbitration court led by
Swiss president Walter Hauser to settle the border conict. Convinced by the
arguments presented by Brazilian diplomat Barão do Rio Branco, the court put
an end to the Contesté/Contestado in 1900 by favoring Brazil’s territorial claims.
Richard Price, Travels with Tooy: History, Memory, and the African American Imagination
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008), p. 136.
Serge Mam Lam Fouck, Nouvelle Histoire de la Guyane Française: des Souverainetés
Amérindiennes aux Mutations de la Société Contemporaine (Matoury: Ibis Rouge Éditions,
2013), p. 23; Carlo Romani, “O ‘Massacre de Amapá’: a guerra imperialista que não houve,
Caravelle 95 (2010): 85–118, 87.
 Emílio Goeldi 1895, cited in Richard Price, Travels with Tooy: 136.
 Romani, O ‘Massacre de Amapá’.
 Stéphane Granger, “O Contestado Franco-Brasileiro: Desaos e Consequências de um
Conito Esquecido entre a França e o Brasil na Amazônia,Revista Cantareira, no. 17
(2012): 21–39; Romani, Aqui começa o Brasil: 111–23.
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    - 
Demarcating a border formally, however, does not necessarily have an
immediate local efect if daily routines continue, and if the border does not
become demarcated physically (for instance, by the erection of walls, signs,
or border posts). This process only began in the 1920s, when soldiers were
deployed on both sides of the Oyapock River, as will be outlined in a later sec-
tion of this chapter.
2 A Casa da Rose: Vestiges of the Penal Facility
One of the places I visited most often during my eldwork was the land-
ing station for pirogues (canoes) in Saint-Georges. Here, I occasionally spoke
with Rose as she sat on the steps of her impressive house overlooking the
colorful boats along the riverbank, surrounded by a bunch of children. Rose
had come from northeastern Brazil to Oiapoque, where she fell in love with
Damien, a metropolitan Frenchman. She had moved to Saint-Georges to be
with him eleven years previously. Today, they live in one of the most beauti-
ful houses there, together with their daughter. Damien has a job at the local
hospital, while Rose works as a babá (nanny) in Saint-Georges. At lunchtime,
from Monday to Friday, a group of children from Saint-Georges’ public schools
come to her house where they stay until late afternoon, when they walk home
or take a pirogue to the other side. In Rose’s house, Portuguese and French
mingle continuously, and children run in and out of the door, which is almost
always open during the day.
No one can pinpoint the exact year Rose’s house was constructed, but Rose,
her neighbors, and town hall ocials have conrmed that, alongside the
church and an abandoned house, it was the only building remaining from
the town’s early beginnings in the 1850s, when the region south of the Oyapock
River was “neutralized” but contested. In a region “where human traces on the
land tended to vanish,” Rose’s house is a rare residue of the past, stemming
from the border town’s violent yet rarely remembered foundational phase.
After the second emancipation from slavery in 1848, French Guiana soon
served a similar purpose of forced labor and surveillance: “The abolition of
slavery in 1848 had led to economic diculties for the colony’s settlers, and
 I conducted six months of eldwork in Saint-Georges and Oiapoque, divided into three
stages over the course of two years (2016–18).
 All names mentioned in this ethnographic vignette are pseudonyms.
 Miranda Frances Spieler, Empire and Underworld: Captivity in French Guiana (Cambridge,
MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), p. 2.
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 
the new workforce of convicts was intended to form a new labor supply.”
Guyane became a penal colony for convicts in 1854. Over the course of almost
100 years, from its inception until its formal closure (1946), more than 70,000
bagnards—criminals and dissidents—were sent to French Guiana in order
to serve their sentence under inhumane conditions, which led to the death
of half of them before the completion of their sentence. The facilities built
on the shores of the Oyapock River—one at a site called Montagne d’Argent
and the other a few miles upstream in Saint-Georges—the rst such establish-
ments on mainland Guyane, were described as follows:
The setting appeared well suited with regard to connement, being a
peninsula joined to land by a large and almost impenetrable marsh, and
hence functionally an island. Yet the actual occupation of the area was to
prove disastrous: few preparations were made, the hygienic conditions
quickly deteriorated, disease set in, and the death rate grew. Another
camp established down the Oyapock River at St. Georges met with a simi-
lar fate.
Moreover, the disease-ridden sites of Montagne d’Argent and nearby Saint-
Georges represented the only facilities in all of French Guiana where the
original plan was to turn the colony into a “circum-Atlantic depository for
black convicts.” However, this racial segregation was weakened slightly over
time, and Guyane’s colonial elite began to conceive of the penal facilities in
Saint-Georges and Montagne d’Argent as installations for both white con-
victs and former slaves of African descent. Described as “an overgrown cofee
plantation at the mouth of the Oyapock River,” the site at Montagne d’Argent
“intended black convicts to prepare the ground for Europeans who had yet to
move from the islands to the shore.” Similar plans were made for what came
to be Saint-Georges. In post-emancipation French Guiana—before the o-
cial “use” of Guyane as a place for mostly white European convicts, “planters
and local ocials had hoped to gather European prisoners, immigrants, and
Jean-Lucien Sanchez, “The French Empire, 1542–1976,” in Clare Anderson ed., A Global
History of Convicts and Penal Colonies (London: Bloomsbury, 2018), pp. 123–56, 133.
 Peter Redeld, “Foucault in the Tropics: Displacing the Panopticon,” in Jonathan Xavier
Inda ed., Anthropologies of Modernity: Foucault, Governmentality, and Life Politics (Malden,
MA: Blackwell, 2005), pp. 50–79, 57.
 Peter Redeld, Space in the Tropics: From Convicts to Rockets in French Guiana (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 2000), pp. 67‒8.
 Spieler, Empire and Underworld: 165.
 Ibid.: 164.
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    - 
former slaves in mixed facilities. Saint-Georges was a monument to that early
ambition.” In this “hybrid facility” next to the Oyapock River, captive people
of color and a few whites forcibly worked in unhealthy conditions in a timber
atelier and on a sugar plantation.
Even though nobody can tell the exact history of Rose’s house, it is generally
agreed that the building originates from the town’s foundation. Who would
have been obliged to live and work in or around that house? In a rare depiction
of the emerging border town of the 1850s, a Jesuit father called Girré wrote the
following about Saint-Georges’ early inhabitants:
One has rarely seen so varied a group concentrated at so small a place.
Blacks from Africa, Bourbon, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Barbados,
Chinese, coolies, mulattoes, Indians, Creoles, Europeans, it is the Tower
of Babel and the conation of languages…. All these lovely ebony faces
merge into a single one.
Notably, most resettled inhabitants of Saint-Georges were people of color from
the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, as well as from French
Guiana. For these convicts who were sentenced to either hard labor or prison
with light labor, it is not far-fetched to state that “the imperial administration
resurrected slavery in the era of freedom and built it into the post-emancipation
society. The lives of freedmen on the Oyapock became interlaced with the
practices of punishment.” In addition, a number of white soldiers and guards
worked in Saint-Georges. At the time, it was a disease-ridden town with a very
high death rate: it has been found that “of the 248 prisoners who made their
way to this site, on which a sugar and cofee plantation was to be put into oper-
ation in April 1863, only 147 were still alive by March of the following year.
Accordingly, the rst cases of malaria in all of Guyane were registered at that
time in Saint-Georges. As death rates peaked, the majority of white soldiers
and guards were evacuated, while the convicts were abandoned to their fate.
With emigration and death besetting Saint-Georges, the penal farm came to
an end ten years after its establishment. In fact, “the outbreak of malaria at
the camp of St. Georges merely proved to be the catalyzing event that led o-
cials to a diferent shore”—the Maroni River. Opened in 1858, the settlement
 Ibid.: 166.
 Cited in ibid.: 166.
 Ibid.: 166‒7.
 Stephen A. Toth, Beyond Papillon: The French Overseas Penal Colonies, 1854‒1952 (Lincoln:
University of Nebraska Press, 2006), p. 15.
 Ibid.: 17.
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 
at the French-Dutch (Surinamese) border became the largest penal colony in
French Guiana and, by extension, in the French empire.
Despite death and decline, the foundations of Saint-Georges had been laid.
A number of former convicts survived the time of their sentence and contin-
ued to live in the area; after all, Saint-Georges had become the main village
of the region within a few years and remained the principal trading point
along the sparsely inhabited Oyapock River.
The bourg of Saint-Georges de-l’Oyapock [sic] remained a small admin-
istrative and commercial center, attracting indigenous populations and
Creole peasants living on both sides of the river, but it also formed the
commercial base for populations who came by the end of the century for
the extraction of gold and rosewood at the rivers of the “Contesté.”
Importantly, then, after its rst construction as a precursor of the ocial bagne
(penal colony), Saint-Georges and its surroundings were rebuilt by survivors
and new inhabitants, including heterogeneous groups of people from south of
the Oyapock River. While the histories of the penal farm and its reconstruction
might be forgotten or rarely remembered, a Casa da Rose serves not only as a
remnant of the hybrid penal facility but also of the later period.
As noted previously, the area south of the Oyapock River was a “neutral-
ized” (1841‒1900) yet contested territory over which neither France nor Brazil
could exert full jurisdiction. Whereas its “neutrality” made the region between
the Amazon and the Oyapock Rivers a comparatively safe place for fugitive
slaves, the second abolition of slavery in French Guiana still marked a water-
shed in the history of the borderland. Since the neutral status of today’s Amapá
did not prevent Brazilian or French troops from entering the territory entirely,
post-1848 French Guiana became a prime destination for escaped slaves from
Brazil where slavery persisted until 1888. As research on the history of slavery
indicates, the French and Portuguese authorities “signed a treaty [in 1732] by
which each would send back the other’s fugitives.” Except for a short phase of
exemption during the rst abolition in Guyane (1794‒1802), both parties tried
to adhere to the agreement well into the nineteenth century, that is, even after
 Gérard Collomb, “‘Indiens’ ou ‘Brésiliens’? Mobilités karipuna vers Cayenne (Guyane
française),” Revue européenne des migrations internationales 29, no. 1 (March 1, 2013):
113–31, 116.
 Flávio Gomes and Jonas de Queiroz, “Amazônia, Fronteiras e Identidades: Recongurações
Coloniais e Pós-Coloniais (Guianas -Séculos XVIIIXIX),Lusotopie 9, no. 1 (2002):
pp. 25–49.
 Gomes, Other Black Atlantic Borders: 254.
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    - 
Brazil’s independence. However, the abolition of slavery on the French side
resulted in a signicant change vis-à-vis reciprocal “repatriation”:
The escapes to Cayenne continued, but the restitution of fugitives became
legally complicated. The provincial authorities in Grão-Pará argued that
the governor of French Guiana had sent a letter clarifying that “by virtue
of the decree of the French Republic, which abolished slavery in its colo-
nies and possessions, slaves from Brazil could no longer be returned …”
Often, fugitive slaves would stay in secluded areas and, over time, become
part of Guyane’s diverse population. However, there is no data available con-
cerning the number of slaves who escaped to and settled in Guyane after its
abolition of slavery. One thus needs to rely on (historical-)sociological imagi-
nation to link the various threads noted above.
How, then, can a Casa da Rose be imagined in the post-emancipation and
post-penal facility phase? It is plausible to imagine fugitive slaves from Brazil
in the newly founded village of Saint-Georges, after death and disease had
terminated its short-lived function as a penal facility. They probably canoed
down the Oyapock River and espied a large, yellow house. They stopped, dis-
embarked on the shore of Saint-Georges, and went on to live there, together
with survivors of the penal farm, as well as with nearby indigenous groups
and occasional visitors from the emerging small-scale gold mining industry.
Together, they re-constructed a town that had been built for diferent purposes:
the merging of forced labor, agriculture, and incarceration. In the absence of
historical traces, ocial memorials, and local memories, connecting the few
material vestiges (Casa da Rose) and examination of the past is the only way
for the ethnographer to think of possible ways in which the borderland (could
have) evolved over time.
Switching to the current situation in the borderland, I do not need to conjure
up possible pasts. I can rely on my observations and those of my informants
such as Rose who, arguably, has the best observation spot over the landing sta-
tions where canoes come and go, just like police cars. Sitting on the doorsteps
of her history-charged home in November 2016, Rose—who still maintains
close relations with friends and family on the other side of the river—said that
she was nervous in light of the announced opening of the rst bridge across
the Oyapock River (see Figure 10.1), which eventually took place in March 2017.
In our interview, she drew a picture that dees not only that of the children
 Gomes and de Queiroz, Amazônia, Fronteiras e Identidades: 40.
 C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1959).
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 
who play together in her house but also of people who—long agosought
shelter from the other side of the Oyapock River:
They [French nationals] have every right to go there, to party, to do every-
thing. And when we brasileiros go and we have no documents, they take
us, they arrest us. I have already seen many absurd scenes here…. Here, at
the riverside, they shouldn’t do this…. I’ve been living here for a long time
now—it’s been eleven years that I’ve lived here—well, I’ve seen every
absurd situation, for example, the police dragging pregnant women, pull-
ing them out of the canoe, everything, and the population is outraged by
this … so I really saw various absurd scenes.
Rose’s observations echo a repeated complaint made by Brazilians, by other
non-EU citizens and, to a lesser extent, by French citizens, who protest
unequal movement rights. While French citizens can visit Brazil without any
problems, Brazilians entering French Guiana have to undergo the complicated
 Interview, December 16, 2016.
 . Photo of the Oyapock River Bridge, connecting the border towns
Saint-Georges (French Guiana/France) and Oiapoque (Amapá/Brazil).
©  
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    - 
and costly endeavor of applying for a visa. These inequalities overshadowed
the opening of the Oyapock River Bridge in 2017, a seemingly connecting yet
peculiarly separating one-way street, fostering global inequalities on the basis
of the ascribed criterion of citizenship.
3 Da Martinica ao Chuí, de São Paulo à Clevelândia
France was not the only country that silenced or transgured some parts of
its entangled histories. In Brazil, too, founding myths about the country’s
external borders were established: “For the Brazilian government, the his-
tory of Oiapoque begins with the arrival of institutions of the pátria with the
agricultural settlement and military posts in the decade of the 1920s.” This
interpretation of history, however, not only ignores the existence of indigenous
peoples and fugitive slaves in the wider region, but it also neglects the fact that
the systematic foundation of what is today known as Oiapoque can be traced
back to the “marginal migrations” of French Antillean migrants in the late
nineteenth and early twentieth century, that is, in the aftermath of the French
abolition of slavery (1848).
Over the past decades, Oiapoque has become part of the national imagi-
nary of Brazil’s territorial expanse extending “do Oiapoque ao Chuí” (literally,
from Oiapoque to Chuí; meaning, all of Brazil), as a common saying goes. Yet
almost no one knows that this saying could equally have been “da Martinica
ao Chuí,” since some of Martinique’s population moved to the Oyapock
River at the turn of the (nineteenth/twentieth) century. The newly founded
 Even though Brazilians enjoy three months of visa-free access to the rest of France during
a six months period, travels to their direct neighbors in French Guiana are restricted. The
introduction of the carte de transfrontalier/carteira transfronteiriça, does not signicantly
mitigate these asymmetries. This card enables residents from both sides to visit the city
center of the opposite town for the duration of 72 hours without the need to apply for a
visa. While representing an important step toward a more balanced relationship in terms
of mobility opportunities, it is important to note that all French citizens (that is, beyond
Saint-Georges) have visa-free access to all of Brazil for ninety days, whereas Brazilian citi-
zens who are registered ocially in Oiapoque can legally enter only a small fraction of
Guyane (Saint-Georges) for three days.
 Ayelet Shachar, The Birthright Lottery: Citizenship and Global Inequality (Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press, 2009).
 Romani, Aqui começa o Brasil: 40.
 Rather than looking at core-periphery migrations, the term “marginal migrations” shifts
the focus toward less-studied migrations within globally marginalized regions such as the
Greater Caribbean. See Shalini Puri ed., Marginal Migrations: The Circulation of Cultures
within the Caribbean (London: Macmillan Caribbean, 2003).
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 
village opposite Saint-Georges was named, colloquially, after the origin of
the majority of migrants: Martinique/Martinica. In the post-slavery period, the
overpopulation on the French Caribbean islands, including Martinique, posed
problems especially for the marginalized, formerly enslaved inhabitants who
faced either ongoing exploitation or unemployment. After 1848, the majority
of former slaves (and their descendants) could not be absorbed by the one-
sided economic plantation system, which was still in the hands of the so-called
békés, who continued slavery in practice by paying starvation wages for inhu-
mane labor on the plantations. Yet, the majority of former slaves and their
descendants could not even nd such grueling “work” on Martinique and the
other islands. Instead,
the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique were turned into exporters of
labor for other French colonies, mainly for Guiana, a relatively extensive
and practically uninhabited territory. The successive discoveries of gold
in the French continental colony … encouraged many people without
working alternatives on the Caribbean islands to head for an adventure
of gold enrichment on the South American continent.
This movement toward French Guiana was strengthened after the twentieth
century’s most deadly volcanic eruption worldwide: In 1902, the eruption
of Martinique’s Montagne Pelée completely destroyed all of Saint-Pierre—
Martinique’s economic and cultural capital at that time—killing some 30,000
people. Following the death of one-sixth of Martinique’s population, the French
authorities set up a migration commission in charge of resettling a number
of survivors—the destination, again, was primarily Guyane. On one of the
lists documenting the migrants who left for French Guiana, Romani found
the name “Emilien Valminos.” Similar to my own “sociological imagination”
about the re-construction of Saint-Georges after its ocial use as a penal facil-
ity, Romani engaged in a “speculative exercise of history” along and across
the Oyapock River, in which he convincingly imagined Emilien Valminos to
be the founding father of the village that came to be named Oiapoque some
decades later. In fact, this thought experiment is very likely to be true, since the
local founding myth in Oiapoque—only retained through oral history and a
handful of descendants of the town’s pioneers—also remembers a man called
“Émile” to be among the founders.
 The term békés denotes metropolitan settlers in the French Caribbean.
 Romani, Aqui começa o Brasil: 141.
 Ibid.: 145.
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According to this counter-narrative to the ocial version of the Brazilian
state, this group of people led by “Émile da Martinica” was originally involved
in small-scale gold mining activities that took place along the Oyapock River
and its tributaries. For garimpeiros (gold miners) on the move, the nascent vil-
lage served as an important stopover for supplies; and Émile became the most
important merchant of the region. Due to his social standing, the village was
soon named after him. According to Rocque Pennafort, whose family moved to
Martinica in 1920 and who later served as mayor of Oiapoque from 1946 to 1963,
“the cited village received the name ‘Antillesse’ in honor of its rst inhabitant,
a Creole born on the island of Martinique … The Brazilians, accustomed to
simplifying things, called it ‘Martinica’.” With the conict resolved diplomati-
cally in 1900, the northernmost village of Brazil’s newly “granted” territory was
called Martinica, not Oiapoque. It was only in 1936 that the name was changed
to Espírito Santo do Oiapoque and, in 1945, to Oiapoque.
In contrast to the French side of the river where a Casa da Rose survived for
more than 160 years, locating material remnants of Oiapoque’s foundation as
Martinica was very dicult. The only remains date back to the 1920s when, a
few kilometers upstream from Oiapoque/Martinica, the agricultural and penal
settlements of “Clevelândia do Norte” were established. Today, Clevelândia—
named after former U.S. President Grover Cleveland—is a district of the
municipality of Oiapoque and serves as a small military base.
Interestingly, once formally “acquired,” the territory south of the Oyapock
River was not used for strategic purposes by the Brazilian government.
However, this was not peculiar to the Brazilian and French cases, since,
state elites were not always prepared to invest much energy in mostly
peripheral, relatively unimportant parts of the country. During a large
part of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, life in the Latin
American border regions was hardly afected by the intervention of
the state.
For approximately twenty years, the Brazilian government did not engage
in any geostrategic projects or settlements in the country’s far north. Thus,
the main activities in Martinica and its surroundings continued to be small-
scale gold mining and the emerging rosewood extraction in which many of
the borderland inhabitants were involved in some way: Antillean migrants,
slave descendants, and indigenous peoples, among others. It was only in 1920
 Ibid.: 138.
 Baud, State-Building and Borderlands: 54.
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 
that the government under then president Epitácio Pessoa established the so-
called Comissão Colonizadora do Oyapock in order to create incentives for
adventurous men and families to settle near Martinica, in Clevelândia. Its goal
was systematic occupation of the region combined with economic interests
in agriculture. The family of Rocque Pennafort, who later became mayor of
Oiapoque, was part of this group of new inhabitants who gained and occu-
pied land near Martinica. At the beginning of this new colônia agrícola, in
1922, approximately 200 individuals settled there. Moreover, the colonially
entrenched cultural entanglement—with French-Antillean migrants living on
the Brazilian side, for instance—came to the fore when, “on the date of the
centenary of [Brazil’s] independence [September 7, 1922], the local inhabit-
ants [on the Brazilian side] had to sing not only the national hymn but also
the Marseillaise,” demonstrating the complex layers of belonging across bor-
ders that existed in practice, but not on maps. Similarly, many children born
in Clevelândia were baptized by the French Catholic Church with French
names. Borders and identities thus continued to be uid for the local popula-
tion. Brazil’s strategic colônia agrícola campaign, however, proved climatically
dicult and economically unsuccessful.
In light of the failed agro-economic utilization of Martinica’s surroundings
and with political turmoil taking place in São Paulo, the Brazilian side of the
Oyapock River was transformed into a penal colony/settlement (colônia penal),
strikingly echoing the aforementioned experiences of the bagne on the oppo-
site riverbank. In the aftermath of the Paulista revolt of 1924—an uprising of
young soldiers within the tenentista movement who envisioned a “national
project of power based on the rejection of poverty and underdevelopment”
in times of economic crisis and elitist power accumulation—hundreds of
young tenentes were arrested. As a consequence, a facility for these young
men was urgently needed. Geographically distant and in the middle of a cli-
matically dicult and comparatively poorly populated tropical rainforest,
 For a detailed description of this period, see Romani, Aqui começa o Brasil: 155‒77.
 Carlo Romani, “Clevelândia, Oiapoque: cartograas e heterotopias na década de 1920,”
Bol. Mus. Para. Emílio Goeldi. Cienc. Hum. 6, no. 3 (2011): 501–24, 509–10.
 Romani, Aqui começa o Brasil: 174.
 Romani, Clevelândia, Oiapoque: 510.
 The tenentista movement involved junior army ocers ghting against oligarchic struc-
tures in Brazil. The movement sparked several revolts that have contributed to the
Brazilian revolution of 1930 and the end of the Old Republic.
 Walther L. Bernecker, Horst Pietschmann, and Rüdiger Zoller, Eine kleine Geschichte
Brasiliens (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2000), p. 239.
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    - 
Clevelândia was selected as these political prisoners’ new home, in turn trig-
gering other problems:
There were more than 700 men who disembarked in less than three
months and had to be provisionally distributed and accommodated in
school buildings, in a shed serving as a guesthouse, and in the private
homes of the settlers. In many cases, the provisional accommodation
became permanent, as in the case of closure of the school and the com-
pulsory ceding of space in some houses.
After December 26, 1924 (the rst arrival of prisoners via the mouth of the
Oyapock River), everyday life in the borderland was turned upside down, as
Romani’s in-depth depiction illustrates: The inux of 946 captive soldiers
resulted in a “complete re-structuring of the lives of the majority of families”
both in Clevelândia and Martinica. This included intimate relations and
marriages between the new inhabitants and locals, as well as the “escape” of
several families from the Brazilian side in the hope that they could avoid the
forced accommodation of strangers in their homes. Notably, apart from a few
exceptions of inhumane incarceration and torture, the majority of expatri-
ated soldiers were not subject to strict surveillance. In the early phase of the
penal system, most convicted soldiers could move relatively freely between
Clevelândia, Martinica, and even Saint-Georges. Not only did this laissez-
faire handling allow for a certain degree of day-to-day engagement with local
groups, but it also facilitated ight to Guyane on the opposite side of the river:
In February [two months after the arrival of a rst group of prisoners],
there were already dozens of persons on the French side, hoping for an
opportunity to leave connement in the northern jungle for good. This
illegal movement provoked repeated complaints from the French author-
ities in Cayenne, and the case became a diplomatic issue.
By that time, French Guiana had already seen the arrival of tens of thousands
of convicts from the metropolitan France and did not want to have Brazilian
fugitive captives, too. The escapees were also perceived to be a threat to French
 Romani, Aqui começa o Brasil: 179.
 Ibid.: 182.
 The number of captives transported to the Oyapock River vary according to the sources.
The most modest (and ocial) number suggests 948 convicts, whereas other studies and
local memory suggest numbers as high as 1,630 (see Romani, Clevelândia, Oiapoque: 514).
 Romani, Aqui começa o Brasil: 183.
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 
Guiana; and upon diplomatic request of the French authorities, 120 soldiers
of the Batalhão de Belém were sent to the far north in order to limit the ight of
convicts. It was, in fact, the increasing state presence there that strengthened
the constitution of the borderline.
As mentioned earlier, strategic escapes across the Oyapock River in pursuit
of freedom and/or survival took place in several phases of the borderland’s his-
tory. It was not the only event, however, that characterized the 1920s. As in the
case of the penal facility in Saint-Georges, Oiapoque’s and Clevelândia’s colo-
nies were plagued by tropical diseases: Between July 1925 and January 1926, an
average of three to four deaths per day contributed to the region’s infamous
reputation as matadouro dos inocentes (slaughterhouse of the innocent),
with malaria and shigellosis being the most widespread diseases. According
to a census, 72 percent of all 684 captives detained at that time died. In light
of this high death rate (and the negative international reporting thereof), fur-
ther plans to settle convicts and guards in the region were abandoned. Similar
to the penal facility of Saint-Georges some 70 years earlier, the colônia penal
on the other side of the river also came to an end due to the unhealthy living
conditions on the shores of the Oyapock River. It was closed ocially in 1927.
The end of the penal settlement was followed by the renaming of Martinica, the
appellation given by (and in honor of) many of the town’s pioneering inhabit-
ants. Aiming to erase this French Antillean historical entanglement, ocials
turned Martinica into Espírito Santo do Oiapoque. Yet, what should they do
with the territory of the failed “experiments” of the colônia agrícola and the
colônia penal in Clevelândia? The area, formerly administered by the agricul-
tural ministry, came under the auspices of the war ministry by way of a 1935
presidential decree, and it is still today home to a military company.
In 2016, a young Brazilian soldier on a temporary contract showed me around
the territory. While we were standing in front of a monument with a plaque
stating, “Oiapoque-Clevelândia: Aqui começa o Brasil” (Oiapoque-Clevelândia:
Brazil begins here), and adorned with a big cross and a miniature church about
two meters in height, he told me that the main task of the company was not to
secure the border but to prevent prohibited gold mining activities in the wider
Oyapock region. Ocial memory in Clevelândia began with the “acquisition”
of Amapá in 1900 and—skipping several decades—continued with the estab-
lishment of Espírito Santo do Oiapoque. Traces of the two Martiniques (both
Martinica a few kilometers downstream and Martinique in the Caribbean) and
of Clevelândia’s early settlement as an agricultural colony and, afterward, as
 Romani, Clevelândia, Oiapoque: 512.
 Romani, Aqui começa o Brasil: 187.
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    - 
a facility for unwanted rebellious soldiers, were erased. While “the state con-
structed symbolic markers of its sovereignty” by underscoring the slogan
Aqui começa o Brasil,” no monument commemorates the deaths of hundreds
of captives and other inferiorized people, such as indigenous peoples and
(fugitive and “freed”) slaves. Here, as in Saint-Georges, histories are shared yet
divided. Experienced by people not only on both sides of the river but also by
those who live far away (for instance, in the French Antilles or in São Paulo),
this entangled past became divorced from the ocial narratives.
For the , this episode is of interest, as it further complicates conven-
tional understandings not only of static identities but also of two allegedly
homogeneous container-like sides of a supposedly strict borderline. In the
early twentieth century, a variety of groups shared this microcosm along and
across the Oyapock River: Political convicts from São Paulo, agricultural pio-
neers, indigenous groups, former slaves, convicts, and Antillean migrants all
lived in this corner of the Amazon rainforest which, though secluded, was
apparently deeply interwoven with places like São Paulo and the Caribbean
island of Martinique.
4 After 1945‒1946: Ongoing (Inter-)dependencies
The 1940s represent decisive years for the French-Brazilian borderland. As
mentioned above, Oiapoque received its current name in 1945 when it became
ocially acknowledged as a municipality within the recently established
Território Federal do Amapá (1943). While Saint-Georges’ name did not change,
it experienced a major shift with the implementation of the loi de la départe-
mentalisation, passed on March 19, 1946. As a consequence, Guyane and the
other “old colonies” (Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Réunion) became legally
integrated parts of the French Republic. At one stroke, the inhabitants of the
“old colonies”—from Saint-Georges in the Amazon rainforest to Saint-Denis
in the Indian Ocean—became full citizens of France. Despite the violent sub-
ordination of the majority of its inhabitants, the colonial societies opted for
départementalisation with reference to the French principle of égalité. Such an
interpretation of égalité, however, can be explained only by the centuries-long
history of indoctrination and assimilation.
 Baud, State-Building and Borderlands: 53.
 Serge Mam Lam Fouck, “Les fondements idéologiques et politiques de la départementali-
sation de la Guyane des années 1820 à 1946,” in Serge Mam Lam Fouck ed., Comprendre la
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 
Critical scholarship emphasizes how départementalisation reinforced “a
perpetuation of dependency structures,” strengthening metropolitan power
over local authorities. This has resulted in blatantly one-sided markets that
have preserved colonially-induced economic dependence. At the same time,
France and the EU have a strong geostrategic interest in the region, and the
European Space Agency launches its satellites from Kourou in Guyane. Still
today, it remains the engine behind French Guiana’s fragile economy. The
ongoing colonial relationship between French(-ruled) Guiana and France
becomes sharply evident when we consider that by the turn of the millennium,
nearly a third of those who are from France’s Caribbean Départements
d’Outre Mer [sic] live in metropolitan France, while an increasing num-
ber of wealthy Europeans are buying land in the departments themselves,
inciting anger against these new “immigrants.” In the midst of these new
forms of migration, and the profound social and economic problems
linked to them, the legacy of slavery and the struggle for freedom and
citizenship remains alive.
Such criticism of ongoing exploitation in the post-1946 phase was voiced
particularly strongly with reference to the Bureau pour le développement
des migrations dans les départements d’outre-mer (), a national
agency that “facilitated” migration to metropolitan France in order to reduce
its labor shortages in low-paying and low-status jobs. In light of the shattered
hopes and the racism experienced by migrants from the overseas territories,
’s work (1963‒81) was described as “a kind of reverse slave trade.”
Paradoxically, the vast majority of inhabitants of France’s “overseas entities”
consider themselves French (and have been indoctrinated to do so)—a fact
Guyane d’aujourd’hui: un département français dans la région des Guyanes (Matoury: Ibis
Rouge Éditions, 2007), pp. 83–103.
 Georg Wink, “Anus Mundi or Tout-Monde? French Guiana: An Uncommon Laboratory
of Transculturality,Istmo—Revista Virtual de Estudios Literarios y Culturales
Centroamericanos 26 (2014): 1–25, 11.
 Redeld, Space in the Tropics.
 Laurent Dubois, “‘African Citizens’: Slavery, Freedom and Migration During the French
Revolution,” in Andreas Fahrmeir, Olivier Faron, and Patrick Weil eds., Migration Control
in the North Atlantic World: The Evolution of State Practices in Europe and the United States
from the French Revolution to the Inter-war Period (New York: Berghahn Books, 2003),
pp. 25–38, 36.
 Kristen S. Childers, “Migration Flows and the Politics of Exclusion in the French Antilles,
in Ingrid Kummels, Claudia Rauhut, Stefan Rinke, and Birte Timm eds., Transatlantic
Caribbean: Dialogues of People, Practices, Ideas (Bielefeld: Transcript, 2014), pp. 121–39, 126.
For use by the Author only | © 2020 Koninklijke Brill NV
    - 
that is often overlooked—yet nd themselves, with a few exceptions, invisible
and excluded: they can thus be described as citizens who are “apart” rather
than “a part.”
This situation is even more complex for the majority of Guyane’s non-white
and non-Creole parts of the population: “From the perspective of Guyane’s
non-Creole populations, who make up the majority of its residents, the coun-
try is doubly colonized, by the French and by the Creoles, who look on them
with a steeply downward gaze.” The majority that Price refers to includes not
only indigenous and Black citizens of France but also immigrants from coun-
tries such as Suriname, Haiti, and Brazil. Having become an “€udorado” in
Latin America and the Greater Caribbean, Guyane has witnessed a signicant
rate of immigration over the past decades. Today, more than one in three resi-
dents of French Guiana do not hold French citizenship; the vast majority of
these migrants come from Haiti (30 percent), Suriname (25 percent) and Brazil
(23 percent). Within ten years—from 2007 to 2017—the number of asylum
seekers in French Guiana rose sixteen-fold: from 322 people who applied for
asylum in 2007 to 5,176 in 2017, 88.9 percent of whom come from Haiti.
Like its northern French neighbor, the Brazilian state of Amapá has been
similarly neglected by Brazilian politics since the 1940s. Despite the motto
“Do Oiapoque ao Chuí,” Oiapoque and Amapá remain a terra nullius for the
majority of Brazilians—not to mention other nationals around the world—
who know next to nothing about the youngest of all Brazilian federal states.
Shortly after Amapá achieved statehood in 1988, the New York Times depicted
Oiapoque as a deprived town that existed only thanks to clandestine gold min-
ing and its proximity to French Guiana, and where most inhabitants struggled
to survive: “Oiapoque, an isolated Amazon village without a sewage system,
without a high school and without a working telephone at the town hall, has
 Paul Dewitte, “Des citoyens à part entière, ou entièrement à part?” Hommes & Migrations,
no. 1237 (May–June 2002): 1; Suzanne Dracius, “DOM: Départements à Part Entière ou
Entièrement à Part?” International Journal of Francophone Studies 11, no. 1 (2008): 229–38.
 Richard Price, “ The Oldest Daughter of Overseas France,” in Wood and MacLeod, Locating
Guyane, pp. 17–32, 18.
 The pun “€udorado” combines French Guiana’s ocial currency (euro), with the mythi-
cal “El dorado,” see Gérard Police, €udorado: le discours brésilien sur la Guyane française
(Matoury: Ibis Rouge Éditions, 2010).
 , Insee Analyses: Guyane 2018; Mam Lam Fouck, La société guyanaise à l’épreuve
des migrations du dernier demi-siècle, 1965‒2015; Piantoni, Frédéric, Migrants En Guyane
(Arles/Cayenne: Actes sud/Musée des cultures guyanaises, 2011).
 , “À l’écoute du monde. Rapport d’activité 2017,” 2018, https://www.ofpra.gouv.fr/
sites/default/les/atoms/les/ra_ofpra2017_web_0604.pdf.
For use by the Author only | © 2020 Koninklijke Brill NV
 
become the latest contact point between two tectonic plates—the economi-
cally developed north and the economically deprived south.”
Like Guyane, Amapá plays a marginal role in economic terms both in the
wider region and in Brazil—with the exception that it does not send rockets
into outer space. While Guyane’s “Gross National Product () in the last
10 years represents only 0.16% of the total of France … the average  of
Amapá is 0.2% in the same period.” From the perspective of conservative
politicians, a main reason concerning this lack of economic “development” lies
in the fact that much of Amapá’s territory was demarcated as terras indígenas in
the 1980s. These territories are especially widespread along the Oyapock River
where 72 percent on the Brazilian side has been turned into terras indígenas
or natural parks, yet the danger of withdrawal of this status is ever-present.
5 Conclusions
This chapter has drawn inspiration from the  in order to reveal some of
the complex, rarely discussed ways in which the French-Brazilian borderland
and its inhabitants became historically entangled. As I have emphasized, the
histories that took place in that territory are often divorced in historiography,
which tends to deal with one side of the border only. Further, these studies have
remained marginalized by ocial and mainstream narratives promoted by the
respective national “centers.” However, the histories of contested territories,
penal settlements, and movements across the fuzzy borderline illuminate the
ways in which these histories are actually shared and became divided through
national historiography. The histories are shared among a multitude of individ-
uals who identify in diferent ways, yet who have been increasingly confronted
with the imposition of binary—rst and foremost national—categories. As
intersectional approaches have underlined, people usually nd themselves at
a crossroads of several categories, such as gender, ethnicity, and citizenship,
 “Perilous Jungle Passage Leads Poor to ‘France’,” New York Times, 4 July 1992.
 Gutemberg de Vilhena Silva, “France-Brazil Cross-Border Cooperation Strategies:
Experiences and Perspectives on Migration and Trade,” Journal of Borderlands Studies 32,
no. 3 (July 3, 2017): 325–43, 336.
 Artionka Capiberibe, and Oiara Bonilla, “Reculs Légaux et Violations des Droits des
Peuples Autochtones au Brésil : Face à l’assaut du Développement,” in Irène Bellier ed.,
Terres, Territoires, Ressources: Politiques, Pratiques et Droits des Peuples Autochtones (Paris:
L’Harmattan, 2015), pp. 209–24.
For use by the Author only | © 2020 Koninklijke Brill NV
    - 
which in turn can become mutually reinforcing and uid. Focusing on
“the Brazilians” or “the French” would be overly simplistic in the case of the
French-Brazilian borderland (and elsewhere). While these categories may aid
in understanding mobility inequalities based on nationality, they do not tell us
much about the identity webs in which people have been enmeshed histori-
cally and which continue to form identities and relations today. Therefore, we
need to shift our focus to categories that can grasp historical yet lasting pro-
cesses of subordination and agency to those of inequality and conviviality:
Indigenous groups or Blacks, for instance, often refer to their ancestral roots
in the borderland, evoking some of the histories mentioned in this chapter.
However, it is important to note that this does not necessarily entail a static
understanding of identity. Rather, it is possible to be a Black French woman
who refers to histories of slavery in her family. Similarly, it would not be surpris-
ing to nd indigenous people in the borderland who hold a Brazilian passport,
yet who speak of histories of migration from French Guiana several decades
ago. Therefore, concepts such as créolité may help ofer a more open under-
standing of shifting identity formations, not only within the French-Brazilian
borderland and the Greater Caribbean but also in other parts of the world.
Throughout the chapter, I have insisted on a thorough historical contex-
tualization that I believe to be necessary when analyzing the New Ethnic
Studies. I have stressed the complexities that led to the nal settlement of
the French-Brazilian border conict in 1900. In the early stages of European
 Among a multitude of studies on this topic, see Nira Yuval-Davis, “Intersectionality and
Feminist Politics,European Journal of Women’s Studies 13, no. 3 (2006): 193–209.
 By conviviality, I refer to the ways in which people engage with each other and across bor-
ders under conditions of interdependent inequalities; see Sérgio Costa, “The Neglected
Nexus between Conviviality and Inequality.” Novos Estud. CEBRAP 38, no. 1 (2019): 15–32.
Among indigenous groups in the French-Brazilian borderland, conviviality in the tradi-
tion of Ivan Illich is well-researched; see Alan Passes, “The Value of Working and Speaking
Together: A Facet of Pa’ikwené (Palikur) Conviviality,” in Joanna Overing and Alan Passes
eds. The Anthropology of Love and Anger: The Aesthetics of Conviviality in Native Amazonia,
(London: Routledge, 2000), pp. 97–113.
 Lux Vidal, “Outros Viajantes: De Maná ao Oiapoque, a Trajetória de uma Migração,
Revista USP 46 (2000): 42–51.
 Encarnación Gutiérrez Rodríguez, and Shirley Anne Tate, eds. Creolizing Europe: Legacies
and Transformations (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2015).
 My insistence stems from the structural neglect of historical perspectives within sociology
and is inspired by gurational and postcolonial sociology. On historical sociology from the
viewpoint of gurational sociology, see Norbert Elias, “The Retreat of Sociologists into
the Present,” Theory, Culture & Society 4, no. 2–3 (June 1987): 223–47. Among a growing num-
ber of postcolonial contributions, see Gurminder K. Bhambra, “Comparative Historical
Sociology and the State: Problems of Method,” Cultural Sociology 10, no. 3 (2016): 335–51.
For use by the Author only | © 2020 Koninklijke Brill NV
 
settlement in the contested borderland, indigenous expertise was a key to the
success or failure of French and Portuguese “explorers.” The securing of access
to larger territories included the forced settlement of colonial and metropoli-
tan convicts. While the 1900 decision marked the border in favor of Brazil’s
territorial claims, the land was not actually used by the Brazilian authorities
before the establishment of an agricultural, and subsequently, labor colony for
unwanted citizens which emulated elements of the French bagne, of which
Rose’s house in Saint-Georges stands as a striking legacy. The “marginal migra-
tions” of Antillean migrants in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century,
however, can be interpreted as proof of a comparatively uid borderland in
which French Antilleans—characterized by their own entangled histories
in the post-slavery Caribbean—could easily settle and/or remain on the newly
conrmed Brazilian side of the Oyapock River, thereby giving the village its
name: Martinica. It was only in 1945 that the border town received its current
name and became part of the national imaginary of Brazil’s territorial expanse
ranging from Oiapoque to Chuí.
By way of a close reading and linking of secondary literature on diverse his-
torical topics and some ethnographic anecdotes, I have sought to show that
sociological-historical analyses relying only on one side of the river tend to
miss important cross-border interdependencies. Yet, studying the borderland
from both sides of the river without reference to larger processes would be
incomplete. In concrete terms, for instance, migrations across the river (for
example, slave ights or the settlement of Antillean migrants) not only point
to the inherent interconnections between the Brazilian and French riversides,
but they also demonstrate that such movements across the contested border
were embedded in much larger processes. In this vein, the temporary and nal
abolitions of slavery in Guyane sparked slave ights from Brazil, whereas the
slavery-like treatment of “freed” slaves from post-1848 Martinique was one of
several reasons for their migration to French Guiana and, in some cases, to
the borderland. Therefore, the previous pages have also emphasized the his-
torical interdependence of inequalities. People of color considered convicts
in Saint-Georges’ hybrid penal facility, for example, faced a cumulative prob-
ability of death, since they were not evacuated when diseases started to spread
along the Oyapock River. Historically, then, race and ethnicity were among the
key criteria for determining the position of an individual in the borderland,
illustrated not only by slavery before emancipation but also by the penal facil-
ity in Saint-Georges which, as I have shown by drawing on Spieler, resurrected
slavery at the remote edge of empire at a time when it was formally abolished.
Today, inequalities based on citizenship, yet also on the intersection of
various criteria, continue to shape the borderland—despite symbolic shifts
toward cooperation and friendship. The recently inaugurated Oyapock River
For use by the Author only | © 2020 Koninklijke Brill NV
    - 
Bridge between Saint-Georges and Oiapoque, between Brazil and France, is
the most striking example of these tensions in this rarely studied borderland.
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The case studies in this volume illustrate the global dimension of flight and migration movements with a special focus on South-South migration. Thirteen chapters shed light on transcontinental or regional migration processes, as well as on long-term processes of arrival and questions of belonging. Flight and migration are social phenomena. They are embedded in individual, familial and collective histories on the level of nation states, regions, cities or we-groups. They are also closely tied up with changing border regimes and migration policies. The explanatory power of case studies stems from analyzing these complex interrelations. Case studies allow us to look at both “common” and “rare” migration phenomena, and to make systematic comparisons. On the basis of in-depth fieldwork, the authors in this volume challenge dichotomous distinctions between flight and migration, look at changing perspectives during processes of migration, consider those who stay, and counter political and media discourses which assume that Europe, or the Global North in general, is the pivot of international migration.
... 1 This chapter is an updated and expanded version of a text published earlier (Santos 2020b Indeed, though finished in 2011, the bridge was still out of use in 2015, and the facilities on the Brazilian side of the bridge were not yet established. However, blaming the Brazilian government for not delivering on its international promises seems to be an assertion rather than a proven fact. ...
... Nach mehreren Monaten, in denen er in einer bescheidenen Unterkunft in einem der vielen, vornehmlich von Migrant*innen bewohnten Außenbezirke Cayennes wohnte, erhielt er einen negativen Asylbescheid vom Cour Nationale du Droit d'Asile (CNDA). Marcia und er beschlossen, sich in Oiapoque zu treffen, der nordbrasilianischen Stadt, die direkt an Französisch-Guyana grenzt und Schauplatz komplexer Aushandlungen von Zugehörigkeit und Grenzüberschreitung war und ist (Santos 2020). ...
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Starting from a detailed review of recent publications oriented by the concept of conviviality and etymologically related expressions (convivialisme, Konvivenz, Konvivialität), the article explores a common analytical deficit in these different contributions: the disregard of the reciprocal constitution of conviviality and inequality. To overcome this deficiency, the essay develops an analytical framework, according to which inequalities defined along four complementary and interdependent axes (material, power, environmental and epistemological asymmetries) are always signified, reproduced, and negotiated within convivial interactions.
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By highlighting the case of French Guiana and – more extensively – its border with Brazil, this article is a contribution to the recent academic interest in the European Union’s ›Outermost Regions‹ and the colonial continuities implied by their status. The article begins by depicting sociology’s Eurocentric tradition, precluding postcolonial perspectives on Europe d’outre mer from gaining a foothold in mainstream research and curricula. In this context, recent re-conceptualizations of ›entangled‹ histories and modernities/modernity are brought into focus. In a second step, the paper offers a historical overview of French Guiana and its contested border with Brazil. The article proceeds by presenting ethnographic field notes from the border region. These empirical insights illustrate the on-going entanglements not only between ›mainland‹ France and its exclave on the Latin American continent, but also between France and Brazil as well as between Europe and Latin America more generally.
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This article analyzes the Cross-border cooperation (CBC) strategies between France and Brazil, highlighting two main issues: migration and trade. The questions that guided the study are: (1) what are the uses of the Franco-Brazilian border by the means of CBC initiatives-actions-programs in relation to migration and trade? and (2) what are the main barriers that compromise the development of the CBC in the studied area? The methodology of the study was comprised of: (a) bibliographic research; (b) documental research; and (c) field work. The data allowed an evaluation of the experimentations and expectations provoked by the CBC since the 1990s. A series of new strategic uses of the border were observed as a result of binational meetings, cooperation proposals and, in a smaller scale, concrete actions in the last 20 years. Debates and effective actions, such as the combat of the illegal migration to French Guiana, regarding migration, and the formulation of institutional mechanisms for commercial cooperation on the Franco-Brazilian border are examples of the initial attempts of cooperation between Brazil and France within the geographical space they physically share.
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While the territory we know today as Guyane was in the end claimed by France, initial attempts to establish a colony there were unsuccessful for several reasons. Highly significant amongst these reasons were the attacks made by indigenous people on settlements which were already precarious. In interdisciplinary studies of the Guianese plateau, Neil Whitehead, Stéphen Rostain, Pierre Grenand and Françoise Grenand—amongst others—have discussed processes of tribalisation and the degree of influence that indigenous warfare had on the establishment and development of European enclaves in the region. Following and building on this existing research as well as drawing upon archival sources, this chapter addresses a small number of specific ‘frontier’ contacts, wars and alliances between different indigenous groups, the French and the Portuguese. By exploring these cases, the chapter sheds light on the negotiations of power that took place in the area over time. It addresses the question of how alliances changed over time depending on interests and circumstances. Rather than using these cases to define the ‘colonial frontier’ between Portugal and France in northeast South America, its aim is to focus on the degree and power of negotiation that the different indigenous groups had on territorial control.
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This chapter constitutes a summative perspective on contemporary Guyane. It opens with a birds-eye view of the place in all its diversity. Beginning with its ongoing population explosion, it moves on to consider its multilingualism and multi-ethnicity, before contrasting Guyane to its tamer sister-neocolonies of Martinique and Guadeloupe. Following this, it quotes and offers pithy commentary on passages from various visitors to Guyane during the past hundred years or so, all of whom comment on its particular colonial flavour. Léon-Gontran Damas posited that bureaucrats were nowhere so dominant as here, and the chapter asserts that Guyane remains a highly segregated and highly stratified society, in terms of class, of ethnic communities, and at least until recently, of urban planning. The study begins in Cayenne before leading on to a tour of the artificial city of Kourou and its space centre, then undertaking a visit to St. Laurent-du-Maroni, once home to the penal colony and now the largest Maroon city in the world. It ends with an overview of the territory far up the Maroni where Aluku Maroon society has been recently overwhelmed by a combination of francisation and illegal goldmining by Brazilians and Alukus.
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Historical sociology can be understood both as a specific sub-field of sociology and as providing general conceptual underpinnings of the discipline, to the extent that it provides an understanding of the specificity of the modern state and the perceived emergence of modernity within Europe. The association of modernity with Europe (and with a European history limited to the self-identified boundaries of the continent) is commonplace and pervasive within the social sciences and humanities. What such an understanding fails to take into consideration, however, are the connections between Europe and the rest of the world that constitute the broader context for the emergence of what is understood to be the modern world and its institutions, such as the state and market. In this article, I suggest that integral to this misunderstanding, and its reproduction over time, is the methodology of comparative historical sociology as represented by ideal types. In contrast, I argue for ‘connected sociologies’ as a more appropriate way to understand our shared past and its continuing impact upon the present. I examine these issues in the context of historical sociological understandings of nation-state formation.
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For French criminologists and colonialists of the mid-nineteenth century, the penal colonies of Guiana and New Caledonia seemed to satisfy two needs, namely, to incarcerate a growing number of criminals and to supply manpower for these developing colonies. But were these two goals not contradictory? Was the primary purpose of the penal colonies to punish or to colonize? In the prisons, inmates found means of subversion, guards resisted militaristic discipline, and camp commanders fought physicians for authority. Back in the metropole, journalistic exposés catered to the public's fascination with the penal colonies' horror and exoticism. An understanding of modern France is not complete without an examination of this institution, which existed for more than a century and imprisoned more than one hundred thousand people. Stephen A. Toth invites readers to experience the prisons firsthand. Through a careful analysis of criminal case files, administrative records, and prisoner biographies, Toth reconstructs life in the penal colonies and examines how the social sciences, tropical medicine, and sensational journalism evaluated and exploited the inmates' experiences. In exploring the disjuncture between the real and the imagined, he moves beyond mythic characterizations of the penal colonies to reveal how power, discipline, and punishment were construed and enforced in these prison outposts.