EL MONTE: Narratives, Aesthetics, and Afrodiasporic Spirituality in the Contemporary Caribbean

November 9 - 10, 2023 | Rutgers University

On the 70th anniversary of the publication of El Monte (1954) by Cuban author and ethnologist Lydia Cabrera, Rutgers University, Baruch College (CUNY), and the Cuban Heritage Collection at
the University of Miami, invite scholars, graduate students, and social and religious activists to discuss pressing issues around Afrodiasporic spirituality and ethnomedicinal technologies in the
cultures of the Hispanic Caribbean.

Often taken as a reference text for those initiated into Santeria and other spiritual traditions, El Monte has become not a book but a guiding concept or code to read the evolution of Afrodiasporic culture in the Hispanic Caribbean. The 70th anniversary of this seminal book and the publication of its first translation into English (Duke University Press, May 2023) demands a fresh look at its contributions and the fields it seeded. This conference will offer a unique opportunity to reflect, from multidisciplinary perspectives, on the complexities and challenging power of Afro-Caribbean agency.

Conference topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Race, migrations and ethnicity in the Caribbean
    • Diasporic Caribbean: Authors, intellectuals and artists of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries
    • Media Studies and animism
    • Popular culture and comparative religion
    • Translation and literature: Challenges and controversies
    • Cuban literature and Caribbean narratives
    • Literary representations of gender relations
    • Literature, plastic arts, visual narratives: Interdisciplinary approaches
    • Historical approaches to colonial, republican, and post-revolutionary literature and culture
    • Caribbean relations in literature and the arts
    • Queer approaches and spirituality in Caribbean literature
    • Exile and memory

Please submit a 250-word abstract in English, Spanish, or Portuguese to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Friday, September 15. Selected proposals will be announced by early September.

The conference is also supported by the Rutgers University's English Department.