Harcourt Fuller, Ph.D.
She was a queen, captured in her homeland of the Gold Coast/Ghana. As a slave she was forcibly transported across the Atlantic Ocean in the belly of a slave ship. In the New World she would eventually rise up to become the leader of a new nation. However, not many people outside of Jamaica know of the Legendary “Nanny,” warrior chieftainess of the Jamaican Maroons, one of the most celebrated, but least recognized figures in the resistance history of the New World.
Nanny, skilled with herbs and a spiritual leader not only managed to keep her people healthy, but by utilizing the island’s steep terrain in its mountainous regions, she mastered the art of guerilla warfare, inhabiting caves and deep ravines that were easily defended even against superior British firepower. She led a band of former enslaved Africans in the rugged and remote interiors of Jamaica in their victory over the mighty British army during the early to mid-18th century. Today, she is one of Jamaica’s seven National Heroes, the only female so honored, and her likeness even appears on the country’s $500 bill. Nanny’s exploits and cultural significance has also earned her more recent international recognition. An exhibition at the Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery in the French city of Nantes, celebrates Queen Nanny of the Maroons as one of “Ten Powerful Women” in their 2013 “Portraits of Women Fighting against Colonial Slavery” exhibition. However, most of what we know about Queen Nanny comes through a handful of written documents from the period, including the 1740 “Land Patent to Nanny,” which the British conceded to Nanny and her people after the former were forced to make peace with the Maroons in 1738/9. We also hear about Nanny from Maroon oral historical accounts and folklore that have been passed down for over three centuries.
So who was this herbal healer, prophetess, and Asante Warrior Queen? This book (and accompanying one-hour documentary-film), will unearth and examine this mysterious figure that is Queen Nanny of the Maroons. Archival and secondary research, as well as interviews were conducted in Jamaica, Ghana, Britain and the United States between 2013 - 2015, and the manuscript is currently being written.
Author: Harcourt Fuller
Based on the award-winning documentary-film Akwantu: the Journey (Action 4 Reel Flimworks, 2012), by Maroon filmmaker and veteran Hollywood stuntman Roy T. Anderson, this book will document the struggle for freedom and the contemporary challenges of the Jamaican Maroons. Almost 300 years ago, their ancestors were able to flee the plantations and slave ships to form communities in some of the most inhospitable regions of the island. Poorly armed and outgunned, the Maroons faced down the mighty British Empire led by warriors as Captain Cudjoe and Queen Nanny. As a result of the First Maroon War (1720 – 1739), two peace treaties were signed with the British in 1739 establishing Maroon self-government on the Leeward and Windward parts of the island.
The book will explore the complexities of the treaties in historical and contemporary perspective.In addition to the Introduction, the book will contain five chapters: Chapter I - Maroon Genealogy; Chapter II - The Transatlantic Slave Trade; Chapter III - Maroons in the Americas; Chapter IV - Old-time Jamaican Maroons; and Chapter V - Modern day Jamaican Maroons. It also contains the full script for the film Akwantu: The Journey, a significant number of photographs by Maroon photographer and film interviewee Adisa Oji, and a Timeline of Jamaican Maroon History.
Authors: Harcourt Fuller and Roy T. Anderson
Maroons in the Family: History, Memory & Migration in the Life of a Jamaican Maroon Clan
Funded by a Research Initiation Grant from Georgia State University, Maroons in the Family seeks to shed new light on the ethnogenesis, history and contemporary challenges faced by Maroon nations in the Americas, by focusing on a Windward Maroon clan in Jamaica, Britain and the United States. Dr. Fuller is a descendant of these Maroons, and his status as both scholar and insider will provide unpresendented insights into this complex history and culture.
Before the major 18th century Atlantic Revolutions (American, French, Haitian and Spanish-American - in that order) that toppled the Old World colonial powers and monarchies occurred, a small band of poorly-armed rebel West African slaves in Jamaica fought an over-80-year war with Great Britain – the most power world empire at the time – and forced a peace treaty granting them territorial sovereignty in 1738/39. Called Cimarrones (connoting “wild” and “untamed” escaped slaves) by the Spanish who had enslaved them for over 150 years (prior to the British conquest of Jamaica in 1655), these early Maroons, led by Asante leaders such as Queen Nanny and Captain Kojo, had originally joined forces and intermingled with the indigenous Tainos in their mountainous strongholds. In 2013/14, the last four remaining Maroon communities commemorated their hard-won status as autonomous communities, who have had a continuous existence in the mountains of Jamaica for 275 years.
Over the centuries, Windward Maroons have migrated outside of their forested and mountainous villages, and have assimilated into the wider Jamaican society, without forgetting their roots. After the Second World War, many Maroons embarked on a familiar pattern of migration, similar to other people from the the Caribbean islands who went to England, Canada and the United States. The extent to which they have maintained their Maroon identity and the role that it played in their experiences in the land of their former nemesis, will form part of the analysis of this book.
Methodologically, the research project implores the use of Maroon oral history, material culture (public art, monuments, museum exhibits, etc.), archival documents, private papers, secondary literature, and genetic genealogical (DNA) data. Dr. Fuller has already conducted the majority of the interviews and DNA tests in Jamaica, London and the United States. This sinterdisciplinary approach will illuminate how the complex interplay of marronage, migration and memory contributes to a greater understanding of the history of slavery, resistance, and ethno-national identify formation in the Atlantic World.
Author: Harcourt Fuller