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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

and founding member of the mizik rasin (roots music) group Boukman Eksperyans (née Mimerose Pierre) was born on 13 November 1956 in Ouanaminthe, Nord-est, Haiti, near the border with the Dominican Republic. Her parents, Emelie Pierre (née Charles-Pierre) and Ovide Pierre, a justice of the peace, encouraged her schooling, but during vacations from school, she learned guitar from her brother and began to sing, with special emphasis on the songs in Spanish that were common in the border region. Although her parents were devout Catholics, Manzè discovered that her grandmother had been a manbo (female Vodou priest).

Manzè is best known for fronting Boukman Eksperyans with her husband Theodore Lòlò Beabrun Jr cowriting and coproducing several of the group s albums Her creative output as a performer and writer reveals the influences of Vodou theology her studies in cultural anthropology and her embrace of social activism all of which resonated ...

Article

Andrea A. Davis

was born on 20 April 1940 in the rural Jamaican village of Woodside, St. Mary. Her parents, Ernest Brodber, a farmer, and Lucy Brodber, a teacher, provided important models for her later development as a scholar and academic firmly rooted in the values of community. Brodber credits her maternal grandmother, Eva Harris, however, as her most important early influence. Harris raised seven children on her own after her husband died, earning a living as a cane farmer and using the sugar produced from her farm to make baked goods for sale. An entrepreneur before her time, she was the symbol of black women’s strength and creativity that Brodber later came to value and embody. Brodber attended Excelsior High School in Jamaica and earned a B.A. in history, with honors, from the University College of the West Indies in 1963, and an M.Sc. in sociology (1968 and Ph ...

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Roanne Edwards

Lydia Cabrera, along with Fernando Ortiz, is widely considered one of the two most important twentieth century researchers and writers on Afro-Cuban culture. She wrote more than a dozen volumes of investigative work on the subject, including her pioneering El monte (1954), subtitled “Notes on the Religion, the Magic, the Superstitions and the Folklore of Creole Negroes and the Cuban People,” and Reglas de congo (1980), a book on Bantu (known as congo in Cuba) rituals. According to Ana María Simo, author of Lydia Cabrera: An Intimate Portrait, Cabrera's “is the most important and complete body of work on Afro-Cuban religions” of its time. Cabrera also wrote four volumes of short stories inspired by Afro-Cuban legends and beliefs. Her fiction is rich in metaphor and symbolism and has been compared stylistically with the writings of Spanish poet and playwright Federico García Lorca ...

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Edison Carneiro was born and lived in Brazil's northeastern state of Bahia. Unlike many mestiços (people of indigenous and European descent) from his generation who denied their African origins, Carneiro dedicated his studies to the customs and traditions of the descendants of Africans in Brazil, particularly regarding religious ritual. This was pioneering work at the time, when African religions were still repressed by the Brazilian government. Carneiro is considered to be the first person to systematically record the practices, beliefs, and history of the Afro-Brazilian people. Among the rituals developed by Afro-Brazilians, Carneiro identified the Nagô rituals as the only authentic variant of the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomblé, as opposed to the Bantu rituals. In his search for the pure African religion, he considered the Bantu sect to be a degenerated form of African religion.

Carneiro combined his studies with a strong political activism He participated in the ...

Article

Angolan anthropologist, writer, and filmmaker, was born in Santarém, Portugal, on 22 April 1941. His family immigrated to Angola in 1953, to the city of Moçamedes, where he spent part of his adolescence. He then returned to Portugal, where in 1960 he finished a course in agronomy. During these Portuguese years, he kept himself at a distance from the group of young nationalist students from the colonies, who tended to congregate around the Casa dos Estudantes do Império in Lisbon, to discuss and denounce the iniquity of the Portuguese colonial system.

Carvalho returned to Angola in 1960. He was living in the province of Uìge when, in 1961, the anticolonial activity of the Movimento Popular para la Libertação de Angola (MPLA) began, which would lead to Angola eventually achieving independence in 1975 In those years Ruy Duarte de Carvalho worked as a coffee grower and ...

Article

Paulette A. Ramsay

was born in the predominantly black province of Esmeraldas, but lived most of her life in Quito, along with her husband, the distinguished Afro-Ecuadorian writer Nelson Estupiñan Bass (1912–2002). During the 1900s and early 2000s, the two traveled extensively throughout the United States promoting their literary works as well as the history and culture of Afro-derived people of Esmeraldas. Chiriboga is highly esteemed for her research on Ecuadorian people of African descent and for her involvement in the women’s movement in Ecuador. Regarded as the most prolific and important black woman writer in Ecuador, her published works include both fiction and nonfiction.

Chiriboga studied biology at the Universidad Central in Quito but later developed a deep love for anthropology and this interest facilitated her research into her African derived heritage in particular the Afro Ecuadorian oral tradition Chiriboga has thus explained her commitment to unearthing important cultural information ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

located just outside the large city of Manchester in Great Britain. His mother, Muriel (née Braudo), belonged to a prosperous Jewish family from Gwelo, Zimbabwe, and worked as a cabaret singer. His father, Denis, was from England originally, but the couple wed in Johannesburg, South Africa. Six months after Clegg’s birth, his parents divorced. Muriel took Clegg briefly to Israel before returning to her parents’ family farm in Zimbabwe.

Though his mother showed relatively little interest in African culture, Clegg as a boy became friendly with the Ndebele son of a chauffeur who worked for the Braudo farm. While his mother toured clubs with bands, Clegg was left in a strict boarding school. In 1960, Clegg moved to South Africa with his mother and his stepfather, reporter Dan Pienaar. The family moved to Zambia in 1965 after Pienaar obtained a position as a journalist for a newspaper there ...

Article

Marilyn Demarest Button

educator, administrator, writer, and activist, was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the daughter of Thomas Cornelius Cuthbert and Victoria Means. She attended grammar and secondary school in her hometown and studied at the University of Minnesota before transferring to Boston University, where she completed her BA in 1920.

Following her graduation, Cuthbert moved to Florence, Alabama, and became an English teacher and assistant principal at Burrell Normal School. Promoted to principal in 1925, she began to lead students and faculty in bold new perspectives on gender equality and interracial harmony.

In 1927 Cuthbert left Burrell to become one of the first deans of Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama. In her essay, “The Dean of Women at Work,” published in the Journal of the National Association of College Women (Apr. 1928 she articulated her belief that covert sexism at the administrative level of black colleges limited their ...

Article

Carol Baker Sapora

anthropologist, writer, and educator, was born in Montgomery, Alabama, the daughter of Georgia Fagain and Moses Stewart. Day was of African American, Indian, and European descent. The Stewart family lived several years in Boston, Massachusetts, where Caroline attended public schools. After her father's death, Caroline and her mother moved to Tuskegee, Alabama, where Georgia Stewart taught school and married John Percy Bond, a life insurance executive. The couple had two children, and Caroline adopted Bond's name. She attended Tuskegee Institute and in 1912 earned a bachelor of arts degree from Atlanta University. She taught English at Alabama State College in Montgomery for a year and then worked for the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) in Montclair, New Jersey. In 1916 she began studying English and classical literature at Radcliffe College of Harvard University, earning a second bachelor's degree in 1919 At Radcliffe she impressed her anthropology professor ...

Article

Nelson Santana

known as the “Father of Dominican Rock,” was born on 21 June 1952 in the town of Maimón, Monseñor Nouel Province, Dominican Republic, to a working-class family. As a youngster, he demonstrated a passion for music. His mother was a spiritual singer and his father played the tres, a six-string guitar divided into three sets of two strings each. Días studied music in Bonao under the tutelage of Juan Zorrilla and Tatán Jiménez. At age 16 he formed his first musical group, Los Chonnys, blending the social, political, and historical culture of rural and urban life. In the early 1970s he left Bonao to study psychology at Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) in the capital city, thus developing a sense of social conscience.

The nueva canción chilena New Chilean Song of the 1960s and the Cuban Revolution were movements that resonated throughout Latin America and Spain including ...

Article

Dawne Y. Curry

In 1923, Cheikh Anta Diop one of the most famous theoreticians of the twentieth century was born in a small village in the West African country of Senegal As an anthropologist historian Egyptologist politician and author Diop devoted his scholarly life to understanding human evolution Diop believed that humankind originated in Egypt and he devoted his life to proving this hypothesis This idea was unthinkable at the time Widely held beliefs about European influence and contributions to society included racist stereotypes that colored perceptions of Africa s genesis Diop who matured during an age of European imperialism African independence movements and neo colonialism never wavered in his commitment to African people His articles and many books reflect this profound devotion In fact Diop s greatest contribution to scholarly endeavors lies in his tireless search for physiological and genetic evidence to support his thesis Using mummies bone measurements and ...

Article

Cheikh Anta Diop is regarded as one of the greatest scholars of the twentieth century. A central figure in African-centered scholarship, his intellectual range and work spanned many disciplines. At the 1966 World Festival of the Arts in Dakar, Senegal, Diop shared with the late W. E. B. Du Bois an award as the writer who had exerted the greatest influence on black thought. He is most known for his work to reaffirm the African character of ancient Egypt through scientific study and to encourage African scholars to use ancient Egypt as a source of valuable paradigms to enrich contemporary African life and contribute to new ways of understanding and improving the world.

Cheikh Anta Diop was born in Diourbel Senegal a town that has a long tradition of Muslim scholarship and learning fostered by the Mouride Brotherhood He began his education at the age of four in ...

Article

Lawrie Balfour

The son of a Baptist minister from Barbados and a Virginia schoolteacher, John Gibbs St. Clair Drake grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Staunton, Virginia. As a student at Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Virginia from 1927 to 1931, he majored in biology, but his study of anthropology with Professor W. Allison Davis defined Drake's future.

After graduating Hampton, Drake worked as a high school teacher in rural Virginia and continued his interest in anthropology. His contributions to a social survey of life in a Mississippi town were published as part of Davis's study titled Deep South: A Social Anthropological Study of Caste and Class (1941). Drake also became involved in the peace movement, spending his summers with Quaker activists. Reflecting on the “peace caravan” that took him and other demonstrators through the South during the summer of 1931 Drake commented that he just ...

Article

Frank A. Salamone

anthropologist, was born John Gibbs St. Clair Drake Jr. in Suffolk, Virginia, the son of John Gibbs St. Clair Drake Sr., a Baptist pastor, and Bessie Lee Bowles. By the time Drake was four years old his father had moved the family twice, once to Harrisonburg, Virginia, and then to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The family lived in a racially mixed neighborhood in Pittsburgh, where Drake grew to feel at ease with whites. His strict Baptist upbringing gave him a deep understanding of religious organizations. His father also taught him to work with tools and to become an expert in woodworking, a skill Drake later employed in his field research.

A trip to the West Indies in 1922 with his father led to major changes in Drake s life The Reverend Drake had tried to instill in his son a deep respect for the British Empire but the ...

Article

Vèvè A. Clark

Dunham, who is best known for choreography based on African-American, Caribbean, West African, and South American sources, began her dance career in Chicago with the Little Theatre Company of Harper Avenue. That experience was followed by study with Mark Turbyfill and Ruth Page of the Chicago Civic Opera. Dunham's other primary influence during this period was Ludmilla Speranzeva, a Kamerny-trained modern dancer from Russia, whose teaching put equal emphasis on both dance and acting technique. She worked as well with Vera Mirova, a specialist in “Oriental” dance.

Out of her work with Turbyfill and Page, Dunham conceived the idea for a ballet nègre, and she later founded the Negro Dance Group in 1934; the group performed Dunham's Negro Rhapsody at the Chicago Beaux Arts Ball, and Dunham herself made a solo performance in Page's La Guiablesse at the Chicago Civic Opera in 1931 While enrolled ...

Article

USdancer, teacher, choreographer, and director who helped establish African-American dance as an international theatre form. She studied anthropology, specializing in dance at the University of Chicago, and took dance classes locally, making her major professional debut in Page's La Guillablesse in 1933. After a period of dance research in the West Indies (1937–8) she returned to Chicago to work for the Federal Theatre Project, and was then appointed director of dance for the New York Labor Stage in 1939, choreographing movement for plays and musicals. In 1940 she presented her own programme of work, Tropics and Le Jazz Hot—from Haiti to Harlem, with a specially assembled company. This launched her career as a choreographer. In the same year she and her company danced in the Broadway musical Cabin in the Sky (chor. Balanchine after which she moved to Hollywood to ...

Article

Leyla Keough

Katherine Dunham helped shape modern dance as both a dancer and a choreographer, a designer of dance pieces. Trained in anthropology, the study of cultures, she researched the African roots of Afro-Caribbean dances and incorporated African-based dance moves, traditions, and meanings into modern American dance.

Dunham was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Fanny June Taylor, who was French Canadian and Native American, and Albert Dunham. She attended school in Chicago and began to dance at a young age. After a short time at Joliet Junior College, she attended the University of Chicago, where she received her Ph.D. degree in cultural anthropology. To help finance her education, she worked as a librarian and taught dance. Dunham eventually opened a dance school and established a black dance troupe later called the Chicago Negro School of Ballet.

Dunham obtained a Guggenheim Award from the Julius Rosenwald Foundation for travel to ...

Article

Gregory S. Jackson

Characterized for much of her professional life as a woman with a double identity, as Broadway's grande dame of American dance and as a pioneering dance anthropologist of world renown, Katherine Dunham has influenced generations with her wide array of talent. Born in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, she attended the University of Chicago, where she studied anthropology and first began to pursue the study of dance with professional aspirations. During the Great Depression Dunham opened a series of dance schools, all of which closed prematurely for financial reasons but not before they earned Dunham the attention and company of such noted individuals as Arna Bontemps, Langston Hughes, Horace Mann, Sterling North, Charles Sebree, and Charles White. As the recipient of a 1935 Julius Rosenwald Foundation Fellowship for the study of anthropology and dance traditions in the Caribbean Dunham united her work in anthropology with ...

Article

Joyce Aschenbrenner

An artist of many talents, Katherine Dunham is best known as a popular and widely acclaimed dancer who, with her dance company, performed on stages throughout the world in the 1940s and 1950s, choreographing Caribbean, African, and African American movement for diverse audiences. Her concerts were visually and kinesthetically exciting and appealing; they were also based on a profound understanding of the peoples and cultures represented as well as on a keen knowledge of social values and human psychology. Her achievements as anthropologist, teacher, and social activist are less well known.

By her own account, in her autobiography, A Touch of Innocence (1959), Dunham was born in Chicago. The family lived in Glen Ellyn, a predominantly white suburb of the city. Katherine’s mother, Fanny June Guillaume was an accomplished woman of French Canadian and Indian ancestry She died when Dunham was young Dunham s father Albert ...