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NMSU art history professor interprets Brazilian religious festival

Brazil is the next stop for New Mexico State University's "Global Connections" series. NMSU art history associate professor Elizabeth Zarur researched Congadas, the Catholic and African festival that honors Our Lady of Rosary and other black Catholic saints, while on sabbatical last year in Sao Joao del-Rei Minas Gerais, Brazil.



Afro-Brazilian Syncretism (Congadas) in Minas Gerais: Religion or Folklore, is the third segment of the College of Arts and Sciences Global Connections series, at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1, in the CMI theatre in Milton Hall. Elizabeth Zarur, associate professor of art history, will discuss the history of the colonial celebration and describe the street-dance performances. (Courtesy photo)

Zarur, associate professor of art history, will share her experience, "Afro-Brazilian Syncretism (Congadas) in Minas Gerais: Religion or Folklore," in the third segment of the university's "Global Connections" series at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1, in the CMI theatre at Milton Hall.

"During those rituals, which take place during the months of October and November, there is also the crowning of the king and queen of the Congo in remembrance of their ancestors in Africa," Zarur said.

Zarur will discuss the history of the colonial celebration and show photographs of the monumental structures that line the city streets of Minas Gerais, a mining state in southwestern Brazil.

She also will describe the sights and sounds of the street-dance performances during the celebration, along with the African drums that lead them.

"My favorite group of Congada was the one from Rio das Mortes, Congada de Nossa Senhora do Rosario, which existed without changes for over 300 years," Zarur said. "The group reenacted the attempt of Charlemagne to expel the Muslims out of Europe. This dance is known as the reinado (crowning) and the dance of the Moors."

With support from the College of Arts and Sciences, the "Global Connections" series features faculty members' exotic trips around the world. The purpose is to provide an opportunity for members of the campus and surrounding community to listen and ask questions about the kind of first-hand experiences most people might never otherwise encounter.

The series runs through April 2012 and will be offered on the first Tuesday of each month, except December and January.

The lectures are free and open to the public. A parking permit for off-campus visitors may be obtained at https://corridor.nmsu.edu/auxadmin/ParkingForms/epermit.aspx.