This website features selected updates from my activities and research-in-progress toward a book about the international life of the Afro-Peruvian cultural icon Victoria Santa Cruz (1922–2014). My previous book, Black Rhythms of Peru: Reviving African Musical Heritage in the Black Pacific (Wesleyan University Press 2006), winner of the IASPM-U.S. Woody Guthrie Book Prize, includes a chapter about Victoria Santa Cruz’s role as a leader in the Afro-Peruvian arts revival. Black Rhythms of Peru was published in a Spanish translation edition in Peru in 2009 (a co-publication of the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos and the Instituto de Etnomusicología de la Universidad Católica del Perú). I expanded upon the research that led to my first book in my award-winning 2020 Theatre Survey article “Staging Public Blackness in Mid-Twentieth-Century Peru” (recipient of the 2022 ASTR Errol Hill Award and honorable mention for the 2021 ATDS Vera Mowry Roberts Award).
My second book (in progress), tentatively titled Rhythm Is the Key! Victoria Santa Cruz’s Fight for the Human Family, examines how Victoria Santa Cruz’s distinctive practice of rhythmic education launched an international career in the arts, government, and higher education that broke new ground for Afro-Peruvian women. My research has taken me to libraries, private collections, and archives in Pittsburgh, Lima, Urbana, London, Paris, New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. I have conducted nearly 100 interviews with Victoria Santa Cruz’s students, colleagues, family, and artistic protégés around the world.
This project is supported by postdoctoral fellowships from AAUW and the Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fund (a program of the Reed Foundation), and by archival research grants from the American Philosophical Society, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library Travel Fund, and the American Society for Theatre Research. In addition, in conjunction with my book project, Biographers International Organization recognized my work with the 2019 Chip Bishop Fellowship and the Coordinating Council for Women in History awarded me with Honorable Mention as a finalist for the 2019 Catherine Prelinger Award. Support for my research is also provided by my affiliations as a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, San Diego (Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies 2018–2021, Department of History 2021– ) and as a Visiting Researcher at the Institute of Ethnomusicology at the Catholic University of Peru.
This website’s banner photograph, and the post carousel silhouette design, come from the private collection of Victoria Santa Cruz, courtesy of Victoria’s nephew, Octavio Santa Cruz Urquieta (who designed the silhouette for Victoria’s farewell performance in 1982, when she left Peru and began her 17-year career as a U.S. drama professor at Carnegie Mellon University). I am grateful for the testimonials of all who have shared their memories of Victoria Santa Cruz, and especially for the support of the Santa Cruz family.
Please message me if you would like to talk further about this research. I am especially interested in collecting additional documentation of Victoria Santa Cruz’s career (texts, photos, or videos).
For updates, please subscribe to this project website and find me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heidi.feldman.5201/