Palenque de San Basílio: Citizenship and Republican Traditions of a Maroon Village in Colombia

Document Type


Publication Date



Civicness, civil society, participation, social capital, city-republics

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


This article presents the results of an empirical study conducted in Palenque de San Basílio in 2014. I advance two main arguments: First, that the Maroon villages settled by escaped slaves in northern Colombia were free city-republics similar to the European free city-republics described by Max Weber [1968. Economy and society. New York, NY: Bedminster Press]. The only difference that separates the Colombian from the European experience is that the model of citizenship created in those European cities became the model for citizenship in the emerging nation-states of Europe. In Colombia, in contrast, the white creole elites tried to end these experiments by way of war. Where they were not able to eliminate them, as in Palenque, they marginalized these communities. Step by step, they took away their political character, transforming them into cultural curiosities, ready to be consumed in the tourism market. The second argument is that Palenque de San Basílio has one of the densest and richest civic cultures in the Americas and the world. Inspired by the ancient Palenquero institution of the ‘kuagro’, all Palenqueros are actively involved in the political, social, and cultural life of their community.


The author of this article would like to provide 50 free downloads of the article. Please click the link below:

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Civil Society, v. 11, no. 4, p. 333-347.