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Cahuita Symposium on Slavery, Culture, and Religion


Harriet Tubman Resource Centre on the African Diaspora, York University
Institut de Investigiones Sociales, Universidad de Costa Rica
UNESCO “Slave Route” Project, Secteur de la Culture

February 11-14th 2006

Cahuita, Costa Rica



The symposium to be held on the beautiful shores of the Caribbean in Cahuita, Costa Rica, will have as a theme, “Slavery, Culture and Religion,” with a focus on the visual and documentary representations of religion and culture and the use of these materials in the reconstruction of the social history of slavery. The geographical areas include the Caribbean and Central America, that is the Atlantic world, and beyond, to the Pacific. The South Atlantic, with the link between Brazil and Africa, and the Anglo-Atlantic are recognized as coherent systems, which engaged Atlantic Africa and indeed southwestern Africa across the Atlantic. The Indian Ocean extension of slavery and the Islamic world are part of this complex history. The thematic scope of the symposium encompasses the cultural manifestations of slavery in all these geographical regions, with the intention of exploring and comparing the symbolism and forms of expression that were used to transfer and transform artistic and cultural modes across the Atlantic, and indeed the Sahara and Indian Ocean. The symposium intends to discuss issues informed by knowledge of Islam, Christianity, the orisa, and the religious traditions that focus on the dead.

The model of the symposium is the Avignon style, developed by Professor Gywn Campbell, McGill University. All papers will be available to registered participants in advance. Papers will not formally be presented; instead designated discussants will consider the submitted papers and lead a general discussion around specific themes. It is assumed that participants will read the papers before the symposium. Lunch will follow at nearby restaurants.

In accordance with the Avignon model, the local attractions are integrated into the program. In this case, unlike Avignon, not vineyards and medieval castles, but the ecological splendor of the Caribbean shores of Costa Rica.

Format: All papers must be submitted in Word format at least three weeks prior to the Symposium (this requirement is necessary to allow papers to be read by discussants and participants). Papers will be posted on the registered conference website, only accessible with registration, which must include submission of the committed paper. Papers will be posted in PDF format and accessible to registered participants. Submissions must be in Word or compatible format, however. Submissions may be in English, French, Spanish or Portuguese. There will be no copies of the papers available in Cahuita. All papers must be downloaded or stored on computers of participants, from the website, once papers have been submitted upon registration. Participants are advised to bring hard copies of papers with them, if they so wish. Facilities for printing as well as e-mail access are limited.


The conference will begin on the afternoon of 11 February, so book to arrive in Costa Rica on the 9th or 10th. Planes often arrive late in the afternoon, and it is usually necessary to spend the night in San José, which can be arranged easily.

The venue for the conference will be La Diosa, located between Playa Negra (Black Beach) and Playa Virgen (a most exquisite untouched beach), which is a small hotel, for which see: http://www.hotelladiosa.net/ The actual cost of accommodation is currently being negotiated, and there is also less expensive accommodation close by, within easy walking distance, ranging from $20.00 per night and up.

The opening session will be at 4:00 P.M., 11 February at La Diosa, followed by a walk to Cha Cha Cha restaurant, for dinner. Distance from conference site to the restaurant is about 3 kms. Bikes and auto transport will also be available. Otherwise, sessions will only be held in the mornings, ending with lunch at one of several local restaurants. Afternoons are open for reading on the beach and other stimulating activities, ecologically focused. Bring your families.

Registration: US $100.00 (Students: $25)

Registration includes transport from San José to Cahuita and lunch during the conference. Dinner on opening night at Cha Cha Cha is extra, approximately $10.00 plus drink.

Car rentals are available, not at the standard $55-65 per day, but at $34 per day, unlimited mileage. We have to know in advance for the special rate.

There are no banks or machines, or gas stations, or even pharmacies in Cahuita. There is a general store that sells booze, nibbles, insect stuff, etc. at normal prices. Bringing cash is advisable. US dollars are acceptable, and all major credit cards. Generally, there is no tipping in Cahuita; it is included, but if you leave coins, it is OK. In Cahuita, there are horses, turtles, bikes, and nice people, and dogs and kids.

You will walk everywhere, so bring an umbrella. It is the Caribbean, and the beaches are truly beautiful. If required or desired, letters of invitation can be arranged.

For more details, please contact:
Prof. Paul E. Lovejoy


Visit the historic site of the Black Star Line of Marcus Garvey in Limon.


Cacao Trails  http://www.cacaotrails.com/home.htm

The Learning.Trips   http://www.costa-rica.us/
Gray Line Tours – Costa Rica  http://graylinecostarica.com/brochure/index.html
Interbus - The Costa Rica's Tourist Transportation Network  http://www.costaricapass.com/
Puerto Viejo  http://www.puertoviejo.net/index.htm
Willie´s Tours in Cahuita  http://www.willies-costarica-tours.com/

Hotels and Restaurants in Cahuita

Hotel Magellan Inn: http://magellaninn.com
tel/fax (506) 755-00-35
e-mail: magellaninn@racsa.co.cr

$70-90 for double room, plus breakfast; excludes tax (18%)
Great restaurant, dinner only

Hibiscus Chalet y Cabinas
tel: (506) 755-00-21
fax: 755-00-15

Price: $25-45 for two persons, breakfast
room for three: $55

Bungalow Malu: www.bungalowsmalu.com
email: bungalowsmalu@hotmail.com
tel/fax: (506) 755-01-14

$50-75 for double,plus breakfast; excludes tax
third person: $5

Maco's Place, Playa Negra
no telephone (telephone booth)

$15 for small double, no breakfast
$25 for two bedroom, with kitchen, no breakfast
also available: tenting (FREE), bring tent or let us know.

Also recommended:

Cahuita National Park Hotel, 4 km from La Diosa, where symposium will be held
(506) 755-02-04 or 382-0139

Suizo Loco Lodge: www.suizolodge.com
(506) 755-03-49

Hostal Toruma