Healing Through Ritual: Community Practices of Repair & Resilience

A celebration of Tambu Fest with Dr. Laurie Lambert.

On Tuesday, October 18th, 2022, the Center for Ethics Education hosted a Zoom conversation on the topic of “Healing Through Ritual: Community Practices of Repair & Resilience.” This was the second installment of the Center’s Fall 2022 Webinar Series. The invited speaker, Associate Professor in African Diaspora Studies Laurie Lambert PhD, and facilitator, Steven Swartzer, PhD, Associate Director of Academic Programs and Strategic Initiatives, engaged in a discussion on the cultural significance of healing, community healing practices and a Q&A The video recording of “Healing Through Ritual: Community Practices of Repair & Resilience” can be found here.

Dr. Laurie Lambert

Dr. Laurie Lambert is an interdisciplinary scholar working at the intersection of literature and history in African Diaspora Studies. She is an Associate Professor of African and African American Studies at Fordham University. Lambert received her BFA in film studies from Ryerson University in Toronto Canada as well as an MA in English, from the University of Toronto. In 2013, she completed her PhD in English and American Literature at NYU. Her research and teaching interests include black feminism, black radicalism, Caribbean and African diasporic literature and history, black performance studies, and freedom from slavery studies. 

Dr. Lambert’s presentation depicted how different communities promote healing through cultural rituals such as storytelling and creative writing. Dr. Lambert is the author of Comrade Sister: Caribbean Feminist Revisions of the Grenada Revolution, a novel based on lived experience that analyzes how female Caribbean writers use authorship to critique inadequacy in the black radical tradition in their narration of the Grenada Revolution. Lambert is also working on another novel, tentatively titled Syracuse, a story of intimate partner violence, labor, exploitation, and the effects of colonialism on the education and family life of women. Her research process for her novels and works is incredibly unique. Lambert describes her experience researching in the Jamaican National Archive and finding herself drawn toward photos of the places and time periods she was writing about. Through this process she found herself in an almost meditative state, sitting with these photos and absorbing the details, sights, and time. Lambert described herself as, “interested in a particular kind of truth that doesn’t necessarily have to be factually bound” when asked about her experience researching. Through her stories she wishes to depict how her characters have found spaces of healing during pain. Lambert’s research for Syracuse was partially funded by the Center for Ethics Education’s Ethics, Social Justice & Health Equity Summer Faculty Research Grant.

Spaces of healing are community-based traditions that date to the time of enslavement and have been integral to the African and Caribbean cultures. Lambert experienced forms of ritual healing while researching in Grenada. There she learned about Saracca and Big Drum. Saracca is an ancestral celebration of the harvest year that involves drumming, eating together, and community. Big Drum is a ritual gathering in memory of ancestors held at events that includes dancing and connection with the spiritual world. Lambert also details Tambu Fest, which is a celebration of Jamaica’s Kumina. Kumina is a centralizing cultural experience that combines music, poetry, and dance to connect ancestors. Through her extensive research and experience with these healing rituals, Lambert has meaningfully integrated the rituals into her novels and the important arcs in the characters’ healing and development. 

Through deep image based archival research and understanding of the healing rituals in these spaces, Lambert can write factual-based novels that extend one’s understanding of rituals and specific experiences. Her research not only serves as a broader resource for her novels, but educates people on ways of healing from trauma. Her unique process allows for a full immersion into the world she depicts and expansion of understanding. 

Dr. Steven Swartzer

Dr. Steven Swartzer is the Associate Director for Academic Programs and Strategic Initiatives in Fordham University’s Center for Ethics Education. In this role, he directs Fordham’s interdisciplinary Master’s Degree Program in Ethics and Society, and interdisciplinary undergraduate Bioethics Minor. He is also the coach and advisor for Fordham’s Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team. He earned a BA from the University of Minnesota in Philosophy and Political Science, and a PhD from the University of Nebraska in Philosophy.

Please visit the Fordham University Center for Ethics Education‘s Events Page for upcoming events and webinars. For questions on the series, please email Dr. Steven Swartzer, Associate Director of Academic Programs, at sswartzer@fordham.edu.

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