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Debt and Trust: Overcoming Fate in Cuban-Kongo Healing

Speaker: Todd Ochoa, Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California at Berkeley. Organized by the Cuba-Caribbean Working Group

Friday, May 11, 2007
3:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Bunche Hall 10367
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Todd Ramón Ochoa is a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department ofAnthropology at UC Berkeley. Since the early 90s Todd has conducted fieldwork in Havana, Cuba, focusing on economic crisis, underground economies, avant garde poetry, and African-inspired healing. His manuscript, Society of the Dead: Nkita Mana Nkita and Palo Praise in Cuba, is under review at the University of Chicago Press. His translations of Cuban poetry have appeared in the literary journal Mandorla, and are forthcoming in anthologies from City Lights Books and The University of California Press.
The presentation will address references to debt and value in contemporary Cuban-Kongo healing culture, known as Palo. Seeking a sound genealogy for these references, and for important instances of Palo material culture, I will discuss possible connections to 19th century Cuban slavery and manumission practices, as well as 18th and 19th century Kongo institutions of pawn slavery. My hope is to illustrate Palo notions of value is such a way that Palo itself, which is routinely misunderstood by the public and scholars alike, might be revalued.

Cost : Free and open to the public

Robin Derby

Sponsor(s): Latin American Institute

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