Orange City, Florida
B.A. in International Studies, University of North Florida- Jacksonville
Cultural Anthropology, The Caribbean Coast of Colombia, Ethnography, Ethnomusicology, Visual Anthropology, Vallenato & Champeta Music, Machismo, Identity, Biculturalism
Growing up as a bi-cultural Puerto Rican-American in Central Florida has always affected my sense of identity and led to my fascination with Latin American culture. My interest in anthropology as a discipline was sparked while studying abroad in Greece during my time as an undergraduate student, and was further cultivated while serving for 27 months as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the rural pueblo of Campo de la Cruz, on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia. It was there, observing folkloric music and dance traditions during Barranquilla’s famous “Carnaval,” or listening to the townspeople singing along emotionally to every verse of popular vallenato music in the local cantina, that my passion for music in relation to culture flourished. I began participating in local dance events, informally interviewing locals about the importance of music in their lives, learning the lyrics to local songs by heart, filming musical presentations, and honing my rudimentary skills with the “guacharaca,” a percussion instrument that produces a scratching rhythm essential to the vallenato genre. I began to develop so many questions about the complex relationships between music, dance, race, identity, happiness, machismo, class, and gender, that I knew I had to continue my studies and frame these many inquiries in a way that would allow me to conduct insightful research. This is what has led me to the MALAS program.