Decolonizing the Orishas: Harmonia Rosales & the Un-Whitewashing of Black Atlantic Divinity, lecture by Professor Elizabeth Pérez

Event Date: 

Thursday, February 24, 2022 - 5:30pm to 7:00pm

Event Date Details: 

Due to COVID-19 concerns, this talk will now be presented as an Online Event.

Event Location: 

  • Via Zoom

Event Price: 

Free and open to the public. Please RSVP and register for Zoom link:

Event Contact: 

Myth, Religion, and Race: the Art of Harmonia Rosales Lecture Series

Video Recording Now Available (click below):

Dr. Elizabeth Pérez discusses the ways that the art of Harmonia Rosales rejects colonial conventions for depicting the West African and Afro-Diasporic deities called orishas. Dr. Pérez argues that Rosales creatively reimagines dominant visual representations of the orishas, some of which derive from Cuban genres of Blackface minstrelsy--for example, the "tragic mulatta" trope invoked in portrayals of Ochún as a mixed-race goddess. Dr. Pérez calls on scholars to interrogate whitewashed images of Black Atlantic divinity and suggests why Rosales' paintings speak so powerfully to young practitioners in particular.

Dr. Elizabeth Pérez is Associate Professor at the Department of Religious Studies, UC Santa Barbara. An ethnographer and historian of Afro-Diasporic and Latin American religions, Dr. Pérez specializes in the study of Cuban Lucumí (popularly called Santería) and other innovative systems of belief and practice that crystallized in the Americas. Her recent publications include Religion in the Kitchen: Cooking, Talking, and the Making of Black Atlantic Traditions (2016) and "Hail to the Chefs: Black Women's Pedagogy, Sacred Kitchenspaces, and Afro-Diasporic Religions," a contribution to The Routledge Companion to Black Women's Cultural Histories (2021).

Dr. Elizabeth Pérez