Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

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Decolonial Possibilities of Reintroducing the Devil in the Public Space of Afro‐Ecuadorian Territories

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Abstract:  The article discusses the decolonial possibilities of the collective design of a sound artwork in reimagining the role of two Afro‐Ecuadorian music and dance‐based events in the Afro‐Ecuadorian ancestral territories of North Esmeraldas and Chota‐Mira. The two events, Bomba del Chota and Marimba Esmeraldeña, emerged in the context of slavery and colonialism as a response of Afro‐Ecuadorians to the oppression and violence they endured. These two music and dance‐based events sustain a counter‐narrative of power and resistance for Afrodescendant peoples in Ecuador, weaving meaningful connections among them and other entities populating their territories, such as the “devil,” whose cohabitation with Afro‐Ecuadorians will be at the spotlight of our analysis. Based on the audio‐recorded testimonies of these connections that strongly existed until the 1970s, and of a sonic composition that was created from them, we propose a collaborative design of a sound artwork in the public spaces of the jungle in Esmeraldas and the mountain in Chota‐Mira. We discuss how a decolonial approach to the design of the artwork can serve as a dialogical space to engage inhabitants in their re‐connection to the possibilities of resistance that their ancestors nurtured in their territories through the practice of the two music and dance‐based events. Through a political reading of soundscapes, an argument is developed to show how sound constructs the public spaces that root people in their territories, connecting them with meaningful stories and practices that keep being forgotten due to the on‐going consequences of slavery and colonialism. The article contributes to the discussion about political ecologies and the collective production of public spaces as a joyful response to exclusion and oppression.

Keywords:  Afro‐Ecuadorians; ancestral practices; Bomba; decoloniality; Marimba; representations of the devil; sound artwork; soundscapes



© María Gabriela López‐Yánez, María Paz Saavedra Calderón. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.