Another talk I have coming up will discuss the significance of photography as a means to promote Regla de Ocha (or Santería) and a number of Afro-Atlantic religious practices. Below are some of the images, that are not in my first book, with which I am working.
Amparo Valencia at the Teatro Lírico, Havana. Flamenco-style costume. Circa 1959.
Seen above, more recent research has involved looking at cabaret photography and its role in documenting popular performance of religious mythologies.
For my first book, throughout the interviews I conducted with santeras in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and New York City, I found that a surprising number of religious leaders also worked as cabaret entertainers. The performance of African diasporic identities—particularly in the heightened instance as posed, portrait and documentary photography, is especially compelling to consider. Featured in the gallery above are a few snippets from the photo albums that I had the opportunity to sort through in Havana.
There’s more to this—and I’m writing it up!