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This paper is a comparative study of three traditions that reflect the African diaspora: the Zulus of New Orleans, the black Indians of New Orleans and the Congo ritual of Panama. In all practices, the participant is transformed from citizen/worker/family member into an empowered being whose role is intricately connected to the reinforcement of cultural and community ties. In addition to presenting an overview of each tradition, I will discuss shared themes, parallel characterization, approaches to masking and comment on the interest of established practitioners to transfer their talents and histories to younger members of the community.


Elizabeth “Libby” Rhodes has received two Fulbright scholar awards to Panama and Bolivia, and recently was accepted as a candidate for the Fulbright Senior Specialists Program. She holds an MFA in Dance from Mills College and is a Full Professor in the Dance Program at Stephen F. Austin State University. Note: this project was facilitated by a grant from the Stephen F. Austin State University Research Enhancement Program.



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