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LOC Highlights People of Panamanian Islands


The Library of Congress Hispanic Division will convene a symposium this Friday focusing on the culture of a people indigenous to the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama.

“The Kuna and Anthropology: A Century of Engagement,” will be held in cooperation with the Embassy of Sweden and the University of Maryland. It is from noon to 2 p.m. in the Mary Pickford Theater, the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Avenue, S.E.

 The event is free and open to the public.

The keynote speaker is James Howe, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who will discuss Kuna anthropology. Magnus Dahlbring, formerly with the World Cultures Museum in Goteborg, Sweden, will offer commentary.

Tito Perez Quintero, son of the late Ruben Perez Kantule, a  Kuna Indian who traveled in 1931 to Sweden to help interpret Kuna collections, will participate in a panel. Kantule spent six months at the Ethnographic Museum in Goteborg, Sweden,  collaborating with a pioneering field worker in anthropology, Erland Nordenskiold., according to the Library.

While in Sweden, Kantule kept a diary in Spanish that has been described as a reverse ethnography, that of an Indian writing about the scientists in Sweden in their “museum village,” library experts say. The manuscript is being prepared for translation into English, as well as publication and digitization by American and Swedish scholars.

Howe and Dahlbring will join Perez Quintero on the panel, along with Janet Charnela of the University of Maryland, and Edgardo Krebs of the Smithsonian Institution.

The Hispanic Division, established in 1939, focuses on studies of Latin America, the Caribbean, the Iberian Peninsula and other areas where Spanish and Portuguese influences have been significant. Its collections include several hundred scholarly books and articles relating to the Kuna Indians.

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