We welcome Kareen Darwich as a new member of our team! She is a third-year undergraduate Health Sciences student, hoping to pursue dentistry. She comes from a science background and is eager to implement this into her undergraduate thesis. Upon joining the team, Kareen remarked upon the contrast between her structured courses in the hard sciences to the alternative learning and unlearning space of the Kawsay Ukhunchay collective. Her Spanish minor and this new dynamic influenced her to pursue work with the Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Art and Cultural Artifacts Research Collection.
In her early weeks as a researcher/curator, she dove into Andean and Amazonian journals, books, and articles on health and wellness from the perspective of indigenous cultures. Other members of the group helped with references and sources that could potentially inform her project. After weeks of searching, the mental and physical maturation a girl goes through as she embarks on womanhood sparked her interest.
As of now, Kareen is researching ways in which indigenous girls are welcomed into the next stage of life. She is exploring the many rituals and beliefs surrounding the changes girls go through during puberty. A series of rare Tukuna bark-cloth pieces from southeast Colombia amond our Collection holdings specifically pertain to girls’ rite-of-passage ceremonies, where the transition from girlhood to womanhood becomes a metaphor for the social well-being of the community. Kareen is also immersing herself in reading about recipes centered on the consumption of guinea pigs during this phase of development, as well as the relationship of women’s cycles with the moon and its phases, which also connects significantly to lunar observations for both agricultural and cultural practices. We look forward to this unfolding research that connects Andean and Amazonian studies, art, and health and wellness!