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Theodore Cohen

was born on 20 January 1908 in Tlacotalpan, Veracruz, to Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán, a medical doctor, and Pilar Beltrán Luchirí, the descendant of Ignacio María Luchichí, a well-known writer in the surrounding Papaloapan basin of southern Mexico. Though born into an elite family with no African ancestry, Aguirre Beltrán had a major impact on how we understand the African heritage of Mexico. In addition, he was interested in social issues, had an affinity for anarchism, and read scholars such as Georg Friedrich Hegel and Karl Marx. In 1921 he moved to Mexico City to continue his preparatory studies, and in 1927 he enrolled in medical school at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (National Autonomous University of Mexico). Having finished his thesis, “El metabolism basal en lasnefrosis” (Elemental Metabolism in Nephrosis), he graduated in 1931. He married Judith Avendaño, and they had five children.

After finishing medical school Aguirre ...

Article

Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán was born and received his primary and secondary schooling in Veracruz, where there was a strong African influence, before studying medicine in Mexico City. In the 1920s and 1930s intellectuals such as José Vasconcelos undertook pioneering studies of Indians in Mexico, whose culture and history had largely been viewed with disdain until then. The studies resurrected a degree of interest in and dignity for Indian heritage. Although Vasconcelos argued that much of indigenous culture should be subsumed in a larger Mexican culture, Aguirre Beltrán believed that indigenous cultures were worthy of study for their own sake. After graduating from the University of Mexico with a medical degree, Aguirre Beltrán returned to Veracruz, where he held a post in public health that further sparked his interest in Indian ethnicity and history. In 1940 he published two studies on the ethnohistory of colonial and precolonial Indians in ...

Article

Daniel Richter

who made seminal contributions to Brazilian national thought primarily through posthumous publications, was born in 1864 in the Brazilian capital of Rio de Janeiro, and was abandoned by his mother shortly after birth. Castro’s best-known writings addressed issues of race, gender, and education during the transition from monarchy to republic in the 1880s.

Castro’s mother was likely a slave, and she may have sought to attain her son’s freedom by abandoning him. Leaving behind young children was a rare practice among slaves in Brazil prior to the Law of the Free Womb, passed in 1871 The foundling Castro was taken in and raised by Manoel da Costa Paes a Portuguese businessman and Rio resident Paes arranged for Castro s formal education which included a scholarship for poor students at Rio s elite secondary school Colégio Pedro II After the completion of his secondary studies Castro enrolled at the Faculdade ...

Article

David Alan Rego

was born in Glasgow, Scotland, at St. Mary’s Hospital for Women, the same institution where his Jamaican-born mother was pursuing studies as a nurse-midwife. Upon completion of her studies in 1967, Carmen Fenton returned to Jamaica with her young son Kevin, reuniting with her husband, Sydney, a high school chemistry teacher and later principal at Kingston’s Excelsior High School. Kevin’s siblings are Peter, a physician; Kim, a mathematics lecturer; and Keisha, a business-woman.

Kevin Fenton attended high school at Wolmer’s Boys School in Kingston, Jamaica. After graduating from Wolmer’s, he enrolled at the University of the West Indies (UWI) as a computer science major, only to transfer to the Faculty of Medicine in 1985. He was elected class president in 1985 and 1986, and in 1987 he was elected vice president of the UWI Medical Student’s Association. Following graduation with honors from medical school in 1990 ...

Article

David A. Shefferman

was born on 24 July 1909 in Santiago de Cuba. He was the last of five children born to Flora Crombet and Gustavo Lachatañeré, who was killed by one of the family’s farmhands shortly after Rómulo’s first birthday. His family names mark his roots within the unique Franco-Creole culture that emerged in eastern Cuba during the 1800s following the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804). Like many in those communities, his paternal grandparents—the Lachataignerais line—adopted Hispanicized spellings, while his maternal lineage included Francisco Adolfo “Flor” Crombet (his grandfather) and other important figures in Cuba’s nineteenth-century independence movements. After earning his high-school degree in 1926, Lachatañeré moved from Santiago to the island’s capital city to begin studies in pharmacology at the University of Havana. He received his degree on 18 November 1929 and began work almost immediately as a laboratory technician in the government-sponsored Institute for Venereal Diseases.

Lachatañeré remained in ...

Article

Raimundo Nina Rodrigues was born in Vargem Grande, Maranhão, Brazil. Trained as a medical doctor, he graduated from the medical school of Bahia. He was also interested in the study of anthropology, sociology, and criminology. He became a professor of general pathology and forensic medicine at the medical school in the early 1890s and was a pioneer in Afro-Brazilian ethnology and forensic medicine. Rodrigues founded the Forensic Medicine magazine and was a member of the Forensic Medicine Society of New York and of the Société de Medico-Psychologique de Paris.

Rodrigues identified two distinct African “cults,” which he termed the Iorubanos and the Malês. He devoted most of his attention to the Iorubano cults, which he felt were more strongly influenced by Catholicism. These originated from the CandombléGêgê-Nagô, whereas the Malês were thought to be more associated with Islam.

Among his most important works were O ...

Article

Arthur de Araójo Pereira Ramos is considered one of the most prestigious disciples of Raimundo Nina Rodrigues. Ramos represents the renaissance of Afro-Brazilian studies, which had been dormant for years after the death of Nina Rodrigues. He dedicated himself to rescuing and reediting the work of Nina Rodrigues, by directing the Biblioteca de Divulgação Científica in the 1930s.

Arthur Ramos was born in the northeastern state of Alagoas, and did his secondary studies at the Colégio São João and the Liceu Alagoano in Maceió, the capital of the state of Alagoas. He then moved to Bahia in order to attend the Medical School of Bahia. He graduated from medical school in 1926 and his interest in psychiatry took him to the Hospital São João de Deus in the city of Salvador the following year He also worked at the Instituto Nina Rodrigues as a forensic doctor ...

Article

María Auxiliadora González Malabet

was born on 24 September 1927 in Noanamá, on the San Juan River, in the department of Chocó, Colombia, and died on 1 May 2008. In 1930, when Ninfa Aurora was 3 years old, her family moved to the seaport city of Buenaventura in the Valle del Cauca department. She lived in this Pacific coastal region for the next seventy-seven years of her life.

Many authors define her as self taught because when she was a child she learned to read and write using charcoal on cardboard to copy the names of shops and barns At the same time she helped her family by selling arepas a Colombian staple food in the village of Pueblo Nuevo In her academic life Ninfa Aurora studied education and culture and she later graduated with the title Teacher of Culture from the Universidad Campesina locally known as the University of Resistance in ...

Article

Yvonne Captain

Manuel Zapata Olivella's frequent use of the word “mulatto” (a person of both African and European descent) to describe his background suggests a biological union as much as a cultural mixture. Focusing less on phenotype and more on what the Afro-Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén would term cultural mulatez, or the mixing of cultures that characterizes the Caribbean, Zapata Olivella explores what unites peoples rather than what separates them. Through his acclaimed works of fiction as well as scholarly studies and public service, Zapata Olivella has significantly advanced the understanding of the contribution of African culture to the world. Together with Nancy Morejón and Quince Duncan he is one of the twentieth century's most admired Afro-Hispanic writers.

Born in the small town of Lorica on the western Caribbean coast of Colombia to parents of African descent, Zapata Olivella used the area's rich folklore in his first novel, Tierra mojada ...