richard price & sally price

Beacon Press, 1999

Dutch edition (KIT Press, 2000)

French edition (Vents d'ailleurs, 2005)

Maroon Arts: Cultural Vitality in the African Diaspora

by Sally Price and Richard Price

Lavishly illustrated with more than 300 images, this groundbreaking study presents the arts of the Maroons -- descendants of rebel slaves from diverse African origins who wrested their freedom from Dutch plantation owners in South America in the eighteenth century and established independent societies in the tropical rainforest.

Through woodcarving, textile arts, and a variety of other media, the Maroons of Suriname and French Guiana have kept alive pan-African aesthetic ideas while adapting them creatively to changing economic and social circumstances, and to each generation's thirst for innovative artistic forms.

The Prices build on their thirty-odd years of involvement with the Maroons, which has produced over a dozen books on their history and culture. Here, they recount the art history of these unique societies, showcase the work of individual artists, and explore the place of the arts in daily life. They also bring the story up to the present, chronicling the challenges faced by today's Maroons as they struggle to maintain their cultural identity in spite of harsh attacks from without -- civil war, a plummeting economy, the introduction of drugs, and invasion of their territory by multinational mining and lumber companies. And readers will follow the spread of Maroon arts beyond the rainforest, as tourists, dealers, collectors, museum curators, and even art forgers enter the picture.

Maroon Arts stands as a tribute to African Americans whose lifeways were forged in a setting of unspeakable adversity and whose societies are again under threat of extinction, but who continue to imbue their cultural expression with the fresh spirit and artistic mastery of each new generation.

The large-format French edition, Les Arts des Marrons (available from is updated with additional text and images and for the first time illustrates these arts in full color.

"Sally and Richard Price's groundbreaking work puts the history back into the art history of the African diaspora, carefully documenting three centuries of struggle, debate, imitation, and innovation in one of the world's most beautiful artistic traditions."
--J. Lorand Matory, Professor of Afro-American Studies and Anthropology, Harvard University

"A tour-de-force of wide-ranging and detailed scholarship, Maroon Arts is a tribute to the continued power of ethnography and careful attention to the people who are anthropology's subjects. This is a true marriage of anthropology and art history, and there is nothing in the anthropology of art yet like this kind of placement of expression in sociohistorical context."
--Fred Myers, Chair, Department of Anthropology, New York University

"Another marvelous achievement by the Prices. Building upon years of intimate contact with the Saramaka, they have produced a work that is at once informative, sympathetic, insightful, and richly illustrated. It is a major contribution to our understanding of the cultural systems of the African Diaspora."
--Colin Palmer, Distinguished Professor of History, City University of New York

For recordings of Saramaka music and verbal arts, listen to Music from Saramaka: A Dynamic Afro- American Tradition, an Ethnic Folkways LP record now available on audio cassette and CD from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

To view the offerings of a Maroon woodcarver from the Suriname rain forest currently working out of a studio in Baltimore, click on Adiante Franszoon's homepage.

Selected Books:

“Richard and Sally Price’s elegiac account of their time living among the Saamakas of Suriname in the 1960s is wholly engrossing, and of the very highest narrative quality. I can see, smell, and feel everything they describe. The Prices have never been fresher or more readable as literature.” --George E. Marcus
Boléro Tropical, a French-language reimagining of Enigma Variations, is now available from and
Winner of the 2012 Best Book Award of the American Political Science Association in the field of Human Rights and the 2012 Senior Book Prize of the American Ethnological Society. "An extraordinary work, actively written and exceptionally thought-provoking, Rainforest Warriors will be a classic." --Donald Brenneis, UC Santa Cruz
"A delicious combination of art, anthropology, and politics"--Lucy R. Lippard. "A fascinating, entertaining, and troubling book"--Journal of Anthropological Research. "A complex story of passion, intrigue, and power"--Journal of Surrealism and the Americas. "A crackling good story"--Museum.
Winner of the 2008 Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing, the 2009 Gordon K. and Sybil Lewis Memorial Award for Caribbean Scholarship, and the 2009 Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion. . . . "An astonishing performance ... as lucid and cordial as the best contemporary fiction.”--George Lamming
A lavishly-illustrated art book
A French-language original, printed in full color.
"A tour-de-force ... a true marriage of anthropology and art history." --Fred Myers, New York University
"A witty, but scholarly, indictment of the whole primitive art business." --Newsweek
"A superb calaloo of a book ... that explores the underlying insanity of the colonial experience." --George Lamming
"A true gem... The promise of literary ethnography is fulfilled: to educate and, just as a lark, to entertain." --African Arts
"Sensitive and honest, First-Time is required reading for all who seek to learn something new through first-hand, long-term research with non-western intellectuals" --Ethnohistory
"A splendid effort to recover the past." --New York Review of Books
"A splendid anthology, skillfully edited and introduced." --Eugene D. Genovese
"An innovative analysis of the creativity of African-Americans under the extreme constraints of slavery." --Rebecca Scott
"Conceived with sophistication but presented with simplicity and clarity" --Choice
"A brilliantly crafted experiment in postmodern narration --J. Jorge Klor de Alva, president, University of Phoenix
As seas dry up, books speak out loud, and elephants assume human form, we are present at a whole sequence of world-shaping happenings such as the invention of sex, the discovery of drums,and the arrival of death among humans.
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