American Cultures and Global Contexts Center

Women in Carnival Symposium

UC Santa Barbara in partnership with Leeds Beckett University Present

May 25, 2022. 9:45 AM – 6:00 PM PST
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Meet our Panelists

Kim Vaz-Deville is professor of education at Xavier University of Louisiana. Her book The ‘Baby Dolls’: Breaking the Race and Gender Barriers of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Tradition (Louisiana State University Press, 2013) was the basis for “They Call Me Baby Doll: A Mardi Gras Tradition” an exhibit at the Louisiana State Museum in 2013. She co-curated “Contemporary Artists Respond to the New Orleans Baby Dolls” at the Leah and George McKenna African American Museum in 2015. The “Baby Dolls” was selected as the One Book One New Orleans 2016 choice for a community campaign for literacy. Her anthology Walking Raddy: The Baby Dolls of New Orleans (University Press of Mississippi, 2018) further explores the tradition. She co-curated the exhibition “Mystery in Motion: African American Masking and Spirituality in Mardi Gras,” shown at the Louisiana State Museum Presbytere in 2021. She is the lead investigator for the community-grounded project, “African American Mardi Gras Maskers’ Post-Pandemic Ideas about the Good Life,” through “The Good Life Project,” and initiative of Morgan State University’s Center for the Study of Religion and the City with support from the Henry Luce Foundation 2022. Her project also gained support from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities 2021 Rebirth Grant initiative. She has been awarded a 2022-2023 Louisville Institute Sabbatical Grant for Researchers for her book in progress titled “Masked in Mardi Gras: The Sacred Visual Art of African American New Orleans Carnival.” She is the associate curator for the exhibit “The Black Indians of New Orleans,” which opens at The Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac in Paris, France, on October 4, 2022.

Adanna Jones in an Assistant Professor of Dance and Dance Studies in the Department of Theater and Dance at Bowdoin College. She received her Ph.D. in Critical Dance Studies at the University of California, Riverside, and her BFA in Dance from Mason Gross School of the Arts – Rutgers University. Currently, her research and scholarship remain focused on Caribbean dance and identity politics within the Diaspora, paying particular focus on the rolling-hip dance known as winin’. Regarding her creative endeavors, she uses dance to both grapple with her research findings, as well as generating critical research questions. In addition to being a member of the Un/Commoning Pedagogies Collective, she is a current Steering Committee Member of the Coalition of Diasporan Scholars Moving. Both organizations aim to tackle, endure, unravel, and combat the pangs of white supremacy within academia and beyond.

Ra/Malika Imhotep is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in African Diaspora Studies + New Media Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Ra/Malika’s intellectual + creative work tends to the relationships between queer articulations of Black femininity, vernacular culture & the performance of labor. Ra/Malika is co convener of an embodied spiritual-political education project called the Church of Black Feminist Thought and the proud child of D. Make Johnson and Akbar Imhotep.

Cathy Thomas is a creative writer and literary scholar invested in black feminist and womanist pedagogy, practice, critique, and play. She studies Afrodiasporic Literature across periods and genres, especially speculative fiction, Caribbean culture, comic books, and science and technology studies. Her work agitates against androcentric modernity and antiblack humanism. She is an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Her current book projects are the monograph Unruliness: On a Genealogy of Afrodiasporic Women and Girlhood, a slipstream collection called Girls on Film, and a speculative fiction novel Poco Mas.

Dr. Emily Zobel Marshall is of French-Caribbean and British heritage and grew up in the mountains of Snowdonia in North Wales. She is a Reader in Postcolonial Literature at the School of Cultural Studies at Leeds Beckett University. She is an expert on the trickster figure in the folklore, oral cultures and literature of the African Diaspora and has published widely in these fields, including her books Anansi’s Journey: A Story of Jamaican Cultural Resistance (published in 2012 by the University of the West Indies Press) and American Trickster: Trauma Tradition and Brer Rabbit (published in 2019 by Rowman and Littlefield). She plays mas in Leeds West Indian carnival and has established a Caribbean Carnival Cultures research platform and network that aims to bring the critical, creative, academic and artistic aspects of carnival into dialogue with one another. She also consults arts and educational organizations on Decolonial methodologies and approaches. Emily develops her creative work alongside her academic writing. She has had poems published in several international journals and anthologies. She is Co-Chair of the David Oluwale Memorial Association, a charity committed to fighting racism and homelessness, and a Creative Associate of the Geraldine Connor Foundation.

Adéolá is an Artist, Presenter and Cultural Theorist. Originally from Trinidad, Adéolá graduated from the University of the West Indies in 2000 with First Class Honours in Visual Arts and completed PhD research in 2015 at Cardiff University. Her research is focused on Trinidad Carnival performance as ritual and the translation of its self-empowering effects for art making and art presentation. This examination of the ways in which Carnival performance can be interpreted within art-making and presentation is geared towards empowering displaced peoples and generating accessibility to a form of experience traditionally only available to Carnival revelers. Adéolá has a strong interest in modes of transformation and in exploring ways of re-presenting self, especially in relation to performance. Adéolá’s life and experiences as a mother and immigrant have informed aspects of her practice and continues to contribute to the ways in which her work takes shape.

Renella Alfred (Whip Princess) is the daughter of the original whipmaster Ronald Alfred and Whip Queen Shalima Buckreedee Alfred. Renella is from Trinidad and is a cultural performing artist, a teacher of the art, and a Keeper of the tradition Rope Jab.

“Carnival is my life it’s who I am. I am carnival.”

Amanda T. McIntyre is the Art Director at Pride Trinidad and Tobago. She was previously the Art Administrator at New Local Space (NLS), a contemporary visual art initiative based in Kingston, Jamaica. In 2020 McIntyre was part of the faculty for the La Pràctica artists Residency and an advisor for the NLS, Curatorial, and Art Writing Fellowship. In 2018, she founded She Right Collective, a Caribbean feminist advocacy network that hosts platforms for contemporary literature, visual arts, and performance. In 2017, she was awarded the title Ole Mas Champion by the Bocas Literary Festival and the National Carnival Commission of Trinidad and Tobago. In 2021, she was awarded a Futuress Coding Resistance Fellowship. Her art practice in mainly rendered through performance, costume design, photography, and film. McIntrye is the creator and performer of the Dolly Ma and Dolly Ma Brigitta Baby Doll masquerades. Her essay “The Baby Doll: Memory, Myths and Mas” is published in Issue No. 1 of the Tout Moun: Caribbean Journal of Cultural Studies special issue “Creating a Caribbean Sense of Place: Calypso, Spoken Word & the Oral Tradition.” She is also the author of Dolly Ma Brigatta, Queer Baby Doll Mythography in Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, published in the special 10-year anniversary issue of Qzine: Imagining Tomorrow.

Eintou Springer is a poet, playwright and cultural activist born in Santa Cruz, Trinidad. She is a founding member of various cultural organizations, including the Writers Union of Trinidad and Tobago, the National Drama Association of Trinidad and Tobago (NDATT), the Caribbean Theatre Guild, and the Emancipation Support Committee. She was honored as Poet Laureate of Port of Spain from 2002 to 2009. She is the author of several books, including poetry collection, for both adults and children, as well as having her writings published in a range of publications and anthologies, including Sturdy Black Bridges: Visions of Black Women in Literature (1979, edited by Roseann P. Bell, Bettye J. Parker and Beverly Guy-Sheftall), Daughters of Africa (1992, edited by Margaret Busby), and Moving Beyond Boundaries, vol. I. International Dimensions of Black Women’s Writings (1995, edited by Carole Boyce Davies and Molara Ogundipe-Leslie). Springer has received acclaim for her work as a storyteller and dramatist. In 2011, her play How Anansi Bring the Drum celebrated the United Nations’ International Year for People of African Descent (IYPAD) and was part of UNESCO’s Youth Theatre Initiative. In response to the COVID 19 pandemic Eintou moved her storytelling online with a series titled “Anansi and the Worldwide Web.” Her play Kambule is performed annually at the opening of Carnival celebrations and in 2021 was made into a short film directed by Maya Cozier.

Nadia Calmet is a professional Peruvian Folk Dance Artist, specializing in Afro-Peruvian Dances. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Tourism and Hospitality with studies in Public Policies for Vulnerable Populations, as well as in Arts Therapy and Intercultural Education. Nadia was a member of the Millennium Theater Group (Kimba Fá) participating as a choreographer and soloist in over twenty countries. In 2015, Nadia participated in the Peruvian delegation with the production “PERU: Pachamama” organized by the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Additionally, she engaged in cultural exchanges with organizations such as Conjunto Folklórico Nacional in Cuba, Familia Ayala in Puerto Rico and touring with legendary artist Eva Ayllon. Since taking residence in Los Angeles, Nadia created the Afroperuvian Culture Day, with the purpose of making visible and vindicating the cultural diversity of Peru and further preserving the use of traditional instruments such as the cajon, quijada and cajita.

Cheryl L. Noralez was born in Punta Gorda Town, Toledo District in Belize, Central America. She was raised with her grandmother in the Garifuna village of Sienne Bight and at the early age of four, she migrated to Los Angeles, California with her parents. Her family is her life; she’s married to Rony Figueroa for twenty-three years and she has two children Jaleesa and Isani. She works full-time as a psychiatric rehabilitation practitioner specializing in mental health counseling and behavior modification. Cheryl is currently a MBA candidate in Leadership and Management at the Robert Kennedy College York Saint John University. As president and founder of Garifuna American Heritage Foundation United, she has had the opportunity to showcase her rich culture through its Annual Garifuna Community Forum held in different colleges and universities around Los Angeles as well as in The Bronx and Brooklyn in New York. The Garifuna forum was also held at LA Southwest College, Cal State University, LA, and Cal State University, Northridge. Cheryl is one of the pillars of the Garifuna community in Los Angeles. To that end, she continues to promote all things Garifuna. She has received numerous awards and recognitions for her work from The Central American Studies Program at CSU Northridge, The Belize Consulate General of Los Angeles, The St. Vincent & The Grenadines Consulate General of Los Angeles, Honduran Consulate General of Los Angeles, and from The California and the New York State Assembly. Cheryl was inducted into the Charles E. Young Research Library at UCLA in 2009.

Maria Anna Zazzarino is a PhD student in the Comparative Literature Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her areas of interest include extractivism and environmental justice, with a particular focus on the cultural production from Latin America and the Caribbean. Maria is a member of the Re-centering Energy Justice Collaborative, where she participated in the creation of the public syllabus “Energy Justice and the California Central Coast.” Her translation of Adriano González León’s “El sitio del paraíso,” – a prose poem exploring the colonial legacies of oil in Venezuela – has been recently published in Asymptote and her article “Magic and Haunting: Oil Media in Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo” is forthcoming in Media+Environment. Previously, Maria completed her BA and MA in English Literary Studies at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and she was a Fulbright-awardee at Louisiana State University. Maria has also worked on a number of public-facing projects including exhibitions and literary events, including Delta Mouth Festival (Baton Rouge) and Hay Festival for Literature and the Arts (Segovia). Currently, Maria is a Research Assistant for the Global Latinidades Project, working on the Voces Nuevas Latinx Author Series.

Optional Pre-Engagement Material to Watch Before the Symposium

Baby Dolls

Essays on the Baby Dolls by Amanda T. McIntyre

The Myth of Anansi

Whipmasters Unmasked #ThereWithYou #JabJab

Art, Dance & Music

Art Projects by Adéolá Dewis