Skip to main content

Giving Voice to Afro-Hispanic Life and Culture through the Collections of Manuel and Delia Zapata Olivella


Elvira Morell

About the Project

Recipients of this Buchanan Library Fellowship researched and curated an online exhibit on a theme relating to Vanderbilt’s Afro-Hispanic Zapata Olivella collections. Manuel Zapata Olivella (1920-2004) was known throughout Latin America as the “Dean of Black Literature” and is considered one of the 20th century’s most important Afro-Hispanic narrators. He was also a noted Colombian anthropologist, folklorist, physician, novelist, playwright, and screenwriter. Delia (1926-2001), sister of Manuel, focused on performance arts and preserved African dance traditions and their African heritage of music and dance. She led an African dance troupe throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, and Russia. Their work to document and preserve the history and culture of people of African descent in the Americas through oral history, television, radio, and literature is legendary. Vanderbilt’s Special Collections houses their personal papers consisting of manuscripts, correspondence, publications, tapes, interviews, scrapbooks, and photographs. 

The Fellows

Fellows: Alexandra Bradford and Elvira Morell

The Instructors

Paula Covington, Librarian for Latin American, Iberian and Latino Studies; Senior Lecturer in Latin American Studies

Carla Beals, Library Brand and Graphic Design Manager