From Canton to Havana

Event Start Date: May 25, 2017 3:30 PM
Event End Date: May 25, 2017 4:45 PM


From Canton to Havana: The Negotiation, Formation, and Healing Practices of Afro-Chinese Religion in Cuba

Martin Tsang, Ph.D., University of Miami
May 25 | 3:30 - 4:45 PM
Pugh 120

Between 1847 and 1874 approximately 142,000 Chinese indentured laborers, commonly known as coolies, migrated to Cuba to work primarily on sugar plantations following the demise of African slavery. Comprised of 99.97% males and contracted to work for eight years or more, many of those coolies that survived the harsh working conditions in Cuba formed consensual unions with freed and enslaved women of color. These intimate connections between Chinese indentures and Afro-Cuban women developed not only because they shared the same living and working spaces, but also because they occupied similar sociocultural, political, and economic spheres in colonial society.

Martin Tsang's research investigates the rise of a discernible Afro-Chinese religiosity that emerged from the interface of these two diasporic groups. The Lukumi religion, often described as being a syncretism between West African and European/Christian elements, contains impressive articulations of Chinese and Afro-Chinese influences, particularly evidenced in the realm of material culture. At the forefront of these Afro-Asian religious practices is an emphasis placed on health and healing, as exemplified through the HIV/AIDS epidemic that impacts Cuba's Afro-Cuban religious practitioners in profound ways.

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