Interstices of Faith: Urban Palos in the Dominican Republic
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Interstices of Faith:
Urban Palos in the Dominican Republic
Figure 1. "Faith" <br/>© John Paul Gallagher, 2007
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Figure 1.

"Faith"
© John Paul Gallagher, 2007

"Dominican Palos" constitute a marvelous representation of Afro-Dominican traditions and beliefs. It is a sacred rhythm played during religious celebrations to honor the saints, the dead, and, also, the living. For many years, Palos, as other Afro-Dominican cultural demonstrations, have been oppressed and suppressed by the dominant Euro-centric ideology. However, this vibrant rhythm has survived as a form of resistance, thanks to the commitment of the often marginalized communities of paleros in Santo Domingo.

These photographs form part of a larger project in which I embarked upon for a period of over fourteen months in order to document the human experience of underprivileged Dominicans: their pain and struggles as well as their joy and hopes. Each person portrayed in my photographs is an accomplice of the lens shown naturally and unposed in the often unpleasant reality of everyday life. My camera is simply a bridge that brings you closer to them; the rest is in your hands. [End Page 487]

Figure 2. "Gagá Dancer"<br/> Haitian descendents from Básima, Villa Altagracia, celebrate Holy Week procession <br/>© John Paul Gallagher, 2007
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Figure 2.

"Gagá Dancer"
Haitian descendents from Básima, Villa Altagracia, celebrate Holy Week procession
© John Paul Gallagher, 2007

[End Page 488]

Figure 3. "Colmado Drummers"<br/> © John Paul Gallagher, 2007<br/> Two paleros (drummers) during a Palos celebration at a corner store in Villa Juana, an impoverished neighborhood in Santo Domingo.
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Figure 3.

"Colmado Drummers"
© John Paul Gallagher, 2007
Two paleros (drummers) during a Palos celebration at a corner store in Villa Juana, an impoverished neighborhood in Santo Domingo.

[End Page 489]

Figure 4. "Los Seres"<br/>© John Paul Gallagher, 2007<br/>Woman mounted by spirits during the San Miguel celebrations, Santo Domingo.
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Figure 4.

"Los Seres"
© John Paul Gallagher, 2007
Woman mounted by spirits during the San Miguel celebrations, Santo Domingo.

[End Page 490]

Figure 5. "Dulce Despojo" <br/> © John Paul Gallagher, 2007<br/> Damaris, a Santera, performs a cleansing ritual in the Manoguayabo River using honey, herbs, and cigars.
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Figure 5.

"Dulce Despojo"
© John Paul Gallagher, 2007
Damaris, a Santera, performs a cleansing ritual in the Manoguayabo River using honey, herbs, and cigars.

[End Page 491]

Figure 6. "Santero Baptism"<br/>© John Paul Gallagher, 2007<br/>Santeros initiate child into Palos festivities.
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Figure 6.

"Santero Baptism"
© John Paul Gallagher, 2007
Santeros initiate child into Palos festivities.

[End Page 492]

Figure 7. "Spiritual Bliss"<br/>© John Paul Gallagher, 2007<br/>A woman mounted by a spirit receives support from a Santero.
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Figure 7.

"Spiritual Bliss"
© John Paul Gallagher, 2007
A woman mounted by a spirit receives support from a Santero.

[End Page 493]

Figure 8. "Gagá Offering" <br/>© John Paul Gallagher, 2007<br/>A gagá man making an offering to the gods during the Holy Week celebrations in Básima, Villa Altagracia.
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Figure 8.

"Gagá Offering"
© John Paul Gallagher, 2007
A gagá man making an offering to the gods during the Holy Week celebrations in Básima, Villa Altagracia.

[End Page 494]

Figure 9. "Portrait of Santero" <br/>© John Paul Gallagher, 2007<br/>Bollo, a local Cristo Rey Santero attending a worship service.
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Figure 9.

"Portrait of Santero"
© John Paul Gallagher, 2007
Bollo, a local Cristo Rey Santero attending a worship service.

[End Page 495]

Figure 10. "Petit Morte"<br/>© John Paul Gallagher, 2007<br/>Couple stealing away in Santero section of Cristo Rey Cemetery.
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Figure 10.

"Petit Morte"
© John Paul Gallagher, 2007
Couple stealing away in Santero section of Cristo Rey Cemetery.

John Paul Gallagher

John Paul Gallagher is a Mexican-American artist, activist, and social worker. His work has been exhibited in Latin America as well as in New York, Los Angeles, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

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