Manuel Zapata Olivella (1920-2004) was a noted Colombian anthropologist, folklorist, physician, playwright and novelist. Vanderbilt’s Special Collections houses his personal papers that consist of over one hundred fifty boxes of manuscripts, correspondence, publications, tapes, interviews, scrapbooks, and photographs. His ethnographic collection (Grupo etnográfico) consists of audio and written transcripts of interviews from a wide range of ethnic groups, including many who were marginalized and from remote areas. Interviews focused on health, traditional medicine, healers, plants and food ways, witchcraft, religious traditions, fiestas, marriage and death rituals, music, folk tales, and magic. Brad and Tiago created a small online exhibit of selected ethnographies and wrote corresponding essays that trace Colombia’s regional and ethnic differences and underscore the impact this has had on contemporary Colombia.
Brad Wright is a PhD student in history at Vanderbilt. His research focuses on social movements and democracy in urban Mexico since the 1960s, with special emphasis on issues of class, religion, popular culture, and urban space. He holds an MA in history from Middle Tennessee State University, and a BA in philosophy from the University of Arkansas. Prior to enrolling at Vanderbilt, Wright worked as a community organizer for immigrant and social justice organizations in Tennessee and served as a United Methodist local pastor in Arkansas.