Mariana Pequena, a black Angolan jew in early eighteenth-century Rio de Janeiro
Title: Mariana Pequena, a black Angolan jew in early eighteenth-century Rio de Janeiro
Author: KANANOJA, Kalle
Series/Number: EUI MWP; 2013/16
This working paper is a study of a black woman from Angola named Mariana Pequena who was exported to Rio de Janeiro in the late seventeenth century. After obtaining her freedom in Brazil, she began a relationship with a white Portuguese New Christian. In 1711, she was accused of Judaism and condemned by the Inquisition of Lisbon for her religious beliefs. Her arrest was part of a crackdown on Rio’s New Christian community in the early eighteenth century. Exploring a little known aspect of Africans’ religious experience in the Portuguese colonial world, this paper seeks to answer why and how Mariana Pequena chose to convert to Judaism. In her confession, she revealed the full extent of her personal network, which included many fellow believers. Albeit a rare case, Mariana was not the only black African to become a Jew in the early modern world. In this paper, Mariana’s case is contextualized in the wider Black Atlantic world. It shows that Africans in the Diaspora did not necessarily have to adhere to their ancestral religious traditions or to their masters’ Christian religion but could make other choices based on their personal circumstances.
Subject: Colonial Brazil; New Christians; Portuguese inquisition; Judaism; Slavery
Type of Access: openAccess; openAccess