Cuban street processionals are rooted within the African presence in the island and Cuban cultural identity. Maintaining an essential social function on the community level, they are an integral part of the nation’s cultural habitus: taken for granted behaviors generalized as tradition that are manifested in Catholic and Cuban African-inspired religious contexts as well as traditional popular culture expressed in the conga-comparsa genres. Gelbard examines two case studies of street processionals: conga from the Los Hoyos neighborhood of Santiago de Cuba in the eastern region and the re-initiated Orisha processional rooted in the Yoruba-based religious practice of Regla de Ocha (Santería) in the west.
Alexandra P. Gelbard is a sociologist and visual ethnographer specializing in African Diaspora Studies, Religion, and Cultural Production in Cuba. She has spent eighteen years conducting research in Cuba and is also dedicated to publicly accessible dissemination of this work through photography, multi-media, and radio. She is completing her PhD at Florida International University in the Global and Sociocultural Studies department (defense anticipated in August 2020). Originally from Washington, D.C., she is a graduate of Colby College (’03) with a B.A. in Anthropology and a minor in African American Studies.