New Book Unveils Black Rhythms of Peru

Middletown (Connecticut), USA –
In the recently published book

Black Rhythms of Peru
: Reviving African Musical Heritage in the Black
Pacific, author Heidi Feldman explores the people and events that shaped the
resurgence of black Peruvian culture. There are chapters on white criollo
folklorist Joes Durand, black theater and dance director Victoria Santa Cruz,
poet Nicomedes Santa Cruz,
—Peru’s leading black folklore company, and
Afro-Peruvian singer

In the early 20th century Peru’s black population and its culture had seemingly
“disappeared, ” largely due to changes in how Peruvians of African descent
defined themselves. But in the 1950s there was a revival of diasporic
consciousness through a social movement to re-create the forgotten music, dance,
and poetry of black Peru. In the 1950s and ‘60s, a number of world events helped
to shape this movement. There were the African independence movements and other
international black rights movements, performances in Lima by African and
African American dance troupes, the appropriation of black culture by white
criollos, the Peruvian military revolution and its support of local folklore,
and the emergence of important charismatic black leaders both within and outside
of the Afro-Peruvian community. Suddenly, Peru’s black culture was gaining
attention and respect.


Black Rhythms of Peru
, Feldman reveals how Afro-Peruvian artists remapped
blackness from the perspective of the black Pacific, which she describes as a
marginalized group of African diasporic communities along Latin America’s
Pacific coast. Feldman’s book celebrates a cultural tradition that was nearly
lost, and shows how such a vanishing tradition was rescued from the brink of

Heidi Carolyn Feldman is a lecturer in the department of communication at the
University of California
at San Diego.

Buy the book

Black Rhythms of Peru