The Benson Latin American Collection

Judith Bettelheim Papers

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Bettelheim, Judith, 1944-
Title: Judith Bettelheim Papers
Dates: 1976-2013
Abstract: The professional papers of art historian Dr. Judith Bettelheim.
Accession No.: 2016-41
Extent: 3 linear feet
Language: English
Repository: Benson Latin American Collection, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Born in 1944, Dr. Judith Bettelheim is an art historian, curator, and retired professor of art history, specializing in Afro-Caribbean art. After completing a Bachelor's degree in Art from Antioch College in 1967, she received a Master's in Art History from UCLA in 1970 and a Doctorate in African and African Diaspora Arts from Yale University in 1979. Throughout her considerable teaching career, Bettelheim has held positions at San Francisco State University, UCLA, and Santa Monica College.

Dr. Bettelheim has made conscious efforts to center the voices and creative outputs of underrepresented Afro-Diasporic artists and communities. Her fieldwork documents festival celebrations across the Caribbean and African Diasporic communities in the United States through extensive notetaking and photography. By capturing these ephemeral performances in fixed mediums, Bettelheim has published extensively on Caribbean festival performances, with such works as The Afro-Jamaican Jonkonnu Festival: Playing the Forces and Operating the Cloth (1979) and Cuban Festivals: A Century of Afro-Cuban Culture (2001). She has presented on Caribbean festival performance nationally and internationally, at the African Studies Association, the College Art Association, UCLA Fowler Museum, the University of Puerto Rico, and the University of Essex. Through her professional efforts, Dr. Bettelheim has made significant contributions to the art history canon and given prominence to the creative endeavors of contemporary Caribbean and Afro-Diasporic artists.

As an art researcher and curator, Bettelheim worked extensively with the Cuban visual artist, José Bedia (b. 1959). Bedia's artworks are heavily influenced by his Palo beliefs – a religion with its roots in Central Africa, brought to Cuba by enslaved members of the Kongo people. Bedia's initiation to the Palo religion and his artistic inspirations are thoroughly documented and explored by Bettelheim, culminating in the exhibition and major publication, Transcultural Pilgrim: Three Decades of Work by José Bedia (2011). Recorded interviews, transcripts, and historical exhibition catalogs forming the basis of the final exhibition and publication are included in this collection.

Scope and Contents Note

The collection consists of the professional papers of art historian and curator Judith Bettelheim. It is arranged into six series: Correspondence, Written Works, Exhibitions and Projects, Subject Files and Collected Materials, Audiovisual Materials, and Art Figurines.

The first series, Correspondence, consists of letters to and from professional contacts.

The next series, Written Works, includes drafts and related correspondence, notes, interview transcripts, lectures, reference materials, and published articles and excerpts. This series is divided into four subseries based on written form: Articles and Essays, Books, Lectures and Symposia, and Written Works by Others.

Series three, Exhibitions and Projects, is comprised of exhibition proposals, publicity, photographs, and reference materials documenting Bettelheim's curatorial career.

The fourth series, Subject Files and Collected Materials, consists of printed materials, clippings, and photographs largely related to Latin American art and traditions.

The fifth series, Audiovisual Materials, includes photographs, slides, audiocassettes, CDs, and DVDs. These materials primarily document traditional Caribbean festival performances, interviews with Palo Monte practitioners, and footage and computer files from Bettelheim's exhibitions. Slides were received in rubber-banded bundles and are arranged and labeled in full page sheets according to those bundles. Handwritten, donor-supplied keys are provided at the beginning of select folders for slide decoding. Audiocassettes and disks are listed in finding aid with original labels. These materials may be digitized upon formal request.

The final series, Art Figurines, contains 12 commercially-produced textile figurines from Cuba. One large figurine is separated from its wooden base.


Access Restrictions


Use Restrictions

Standard copyright restrictions apply.

Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Bettelheim, Judith, 1944-
Bedia, José, 1959.
African diaspora.
Arts, Caribbean.
Arts, Latin American.
Jonkonnu (Festival)
Caribbean Area.
Puerto Rico.
Document Types
Compact disks.
Slides (photographs)

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Cite as: Judith Bettelheim Papers, Benson Latin American Collection, LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, The University of Texas at Austin.

Acquisition Information


Processing Information

Collection processed by Natalie Hill, 2019.


No further materials are expected for this collection.

Box and Folder Inventory

Correspondence, 1977-2011

1 Alphabetical by Correspondent
1 Boxer, David, National Gallery of Jamaica, 1997
2 Castillo, Omar-Pascual, Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno, 2011
3 Connors, Andrew, National Museum of American Art, 1997
4 Cowley, John, 1998-2000
5 Kinser, Samuel, 1998-1999
6 Lizardo, Fradique, Ballet Folklórico Dominicano, 1977
7 Martin, Denis, 1998-1999
8 Seibert, Gerhard, Leiden University, 1995, 1997, 1999
9 Thompson, Krisa, Northwestern University, 2009
Alphabetical by Subject
10 Permissions request (George Allen and Unwin Ltd Book Publishers, Hachette), 1977-1978

Written Works, 1976-2013

1 Articles and Essays, 1985-2013
11 "Carnaval in Santiago de Cuba and the 'Special Period'," Draft, undated
12 "Ethnicity in Caribbean Festival and Carnival," 1992
13 "From the Inside to the Outside: The Art and Ritual of Bahian Candomble," 1985
14 "Grupo Antillano, revisited," Grupo Antillano, the Art of Afro-Cuba, 2013
"How Are History and Culture Maintained and Transferred in Popular Masquerades: A Sampler," 2002
15 Draft and correspondence with Glen Richards, University of West Indies, 2002
"Palo Monte Mayombe and its Influence on Contemporary Cuban Art", African Arts, 2001
16 Notes and correspondence with Wyatt MacGaffey, 2001
17 Notes [with photographs], 1988-1990, 2001
18 Notes [with photographs], 1988-1990
19 Notes [with photographs], 1988-1990
20 Notes and correspondence with Wyatt MacGaffey, 1990-1991, 2001
21 "A Transnational Artist with a Jamaican Soul: Recent Paintings by Keith Morrison", Keith Morrison: Voyages, 1996
Books, 1976-2011
The Afro-Jamaican Jonkonnu Festival: Playing the forces and operating the cloth, Yale University dissertation, 1979
22 Research notebooks (4), 1976, undated
23 Notes on English Mummers [with photographs], undated
24 Interview notes, 1976
25 Interview notes and notes on Kumina religion, 1976
AfroCuba: Works on Paper, 1968-2003, University of Washington Press, 2005
26 Research notes, 2001, 2003, undated
Cuban Festivals: A Century of Afro-Cuban Culture
27 Research notebook (1) [with photographs], 1998
Transcultural Pilgrim: Three Decades of Work by José Bedia, University of Washington Press, 2011
28 Research notebook (1), 1996-1997
29 Bedia interview transcripts, 1996
30 Bedia interview transcripts, 1996
31 Bedia interview transcripts and notes on Palo Monte, 1997, undated
32 Images of Bedia artwork and correspondence with Karine Bomel, Centre Pompidou [with photographs], 1989-1990, 1993-1995, 1998, 2011, undated
2 Lectures and Symposia, 1985-2011
1 1) Untitled lecture on Jonkonnu, African Studies Association annual meeting; 2) "Post Modern Criticism and Performance Arts: Its Application to African and New World Performance Matrices," College Art Association annual meeting, 1981, 1985
2 1) "Art and Altars Dedicated to Afro-Cuban Palo: An Ethnobiography of a Cuban Artist," College Art Association annual meeting; 2) "José Bedia: Art, Religion, and the Transcultural Artist," College Art Association annual meeting, 1991, 1996
3 "Caribbean Women in Masquerade and Performance," University of Puerto Rico; Untitled lecture on public performances, Arts Council of the African Studies Association Triennial Symposium on African Art, 1998, 2001
4 1) "Afro-Atlantic Queens and Kings: Authority in/and Performance," Latin American Studies Association annual congress; 2) "The Red Hot Mamas of Cuban Carnaval, Revisited," UCLA Fowler Museum, 2001, 2006
5 1) “From Ethnography to Art: AfroCuba, José Bedia, the New Internationalism, and Globalization;" 2) “The Red Hot Mamas of Cuban Carnaval, Revisited," University of California, Santa Barbara, 2006, 2007
6 1) “The Reception of Caribbean Art” panel discussion, College Art Association annual meeting; 2) “José Bedia: Routes/Roots and the Studio," Arts Council of the African Studies Association Triennial Symposium on African Art, 2007
7 1) “Hybridity: Art in the Latin/Latino Americas," Symposium: The Question Is Known – (W)here is Latin American/Latino Art, San Francisco Art Institute; 2) “Jonkonnu Jamaica and Mas in Trinidad 1950s," The 1950s in the Caribbean Conference, UCLA; 3) “A Historiography of African Diaspora Art History: From the Field to the Studio," College Art Assocation annual meeting, 2008, 2010
8 1) "José Bedia: Routes/Roots and the Studio," UCLA Mellon Seminar in Black Atlantic Studies; 2) "Cuban artists comment on Cuba," Painting the Caribbean Symposium, University of Essex, 2010, 2011
Written Works by Others, 1967-1995
9 Batista, José Millet, trans. by Alina del Pino, "Cordon Espiritismo in Eastern Cuba: A Case Study," undated
10 Bermendez, Andrés, "Notas para la Historia del Espiritismo en Cuba," 1967
11 Buchloh, Benjamin, New Art from Cuba: José Bedia, Flavio Garciandía, Ricardo Rodríguez Brey, State University of New York College at Old Westbury, 1985
12 Carámbula, Rubén, El Candombe, 1995
13 Mosquera, Gerardo, Ante América, p. 6-11, p. 18-24, 1992

Exhibitions, 2002-2011

Box Folder
2 14 AfroCuba: Works on Paper, 1968-2003, 2008
Publicity materials and notes from exhibition tour, 2008
15 The Indian in Spirit: José Bedia and spiritual altars from New Orleans, 2008
Publicity materials and notes from exhibition tour, 2002
16 Transcultural Pilgrim: Three Decades of Work by José Bedia, 2011
Publicity materials, 2011

Subject Files and Collected Materials, 1977-2011

2 Alphabetical by Subject
17 Brazil, 1998, 2005
Puerto Rico, 1997-1998
18 Research notebook (1) and bilingual coloring book [with photographs], 1997-1998
19 São Tomé and Príncipe [with photographs], 1990, 1993

Audiovisual Materials, 1976-2012

3 Slides, 1976-2005
1 Puerto Rico, 1997-1998
2 Museum collections at Spelman College and Carnaval celebrations in Portobelo, Panama, 1999-2000
3 Trinidad Mardi Gras and related festivals, 1976, 1984, 1986, 1988
4 Marie Laveau's tomb, Monk Boudreaux in New Orleans, Louisiana and Carriacou Carnaval 'Shakespeare Mas' performance at University of Puerto Rico, 1980, 1991, 1998
5 Quilombos, bumba-meu-bois, and museums in Maranhão, Brazil, Candomblé and Capoiera Angola School in Bahia, Brazil, and Estação Primeira de Mangueira in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2005
6 International Festival of Francophone Culture in Lafayette, Louisiana and Voodoo Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana, 1991
7 Jonkonnu celebrations in Jamaica and Martha Warren Beckwith's Jonkonnu donation to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, New York, 1976
8 Miscellaneous Caribbean celebrations, 1976, 1984-1985, 1989, 2001
Box Folder
4 1 Carnaval groups from Santiago de Cuba, 1986, 1989, 1998
2 Performance groups from the interior of Oriente province, Cuba, 1986, 1991
3 Miscellaneous performance groups during Carnaval or Festival, 1989, 1991, 1998
4 All aspects of the religion - Regla de Ocha (AKA) Santería, 1990-1991
5 Artists and altar constructions related to the religion Palo Monte, 1988-1989, 1991, 1998
6 Abakuá, 1998-1999
5 Audiocasettes and Disks, 1976-2012
Side A: Duheny Pen - JK Group. St Thomas. (transcribed); Side B: Ranny Williams. (transcribed), 1976
Side A: Beverly + [?] panel disc. at Schdance. More 3 mile interview - OK. Jamaica Gardens - Surinam/Belize; Side B: Jamaica Gardens. Arena Surinam, Belize. Nassau J.K - w/. Chippy Chipman, 1976
Side A: Jamaica Gardens. Surinam, Belize; Side B: Percy Francis interview w/ Bahamas people. Janet Cartwright, 1976
Side A: Misc Carifesta at Arena. Port San Antonio. Sau - transcribed; Side B: Sau La Mar. JK Festival, transcribed, 1976
Side A:Rex Nettleford; Side B: Rex con't, 1976
Side A: Joyce Campbell. transcribed; Side B: Sealy. transcribed. Tape twisted/bent, 1976
Side A: Mr. Luther Cooper; Side B: "Jim Hoosehood" James Robinson - Beeston Spring. Westmoreland, 1976
Side 1: Shaila Barrett; Side 2: Mr H P Hylton, 1976
Side A: Side 1 Ranny Williams; Side B: Side 2 Ranny Williams, 1976
Side 1: Bermuda - Gombey - Al Wilson; Side 2: Dr Kenneth Robinson. Bermuda, 1976
Bedia. Miami, 1995
Palo interview Bedia tape 1, 1996
Palo interview w/ Bedia tape 2, 1996
Bedia tape 3 initiation, 1996
Bedia tape 4, 1996
Carriacou at UPR, 1998
Side A: Rex Nettleford; Side B: Rex con't, 1976
Trinidad Robbers, undated
Tata Alberto con Pedroso, 1998
Gladyse Gonzalez Bueno, 1998
Side A: Gladyse, Menesis and Palero Ibrahim; Side B: Tropicana dancer, 1991
Side A: Gladyse Gonzalez Bueno; Side B: Gladyse and Reineiro, 1991
Gladyse Maria Gonzalez, 1990
Interview w/ Gladyse, 1989
1A - Gladyse, undated
Side A: Queneditt Interview; Side B: Guillermina Interview, 2002
Side A: Ramon Haiti; Side B: Ramon Haiti, Havana, 2003
1. Rap 2. Carriacou Pt. 1 3. Carriacou Pt. 2, 1998
Installations Bedia files, 2010
Opening Night Conversation with José Bedia and Judith Bettelheim, Miami Art Museum, Transcultural Pilgrim: Three Decades of Work by José Bedia, 2012
Miami Art Museum, Transcultural Pilgrim: Three Decades of Work by José Bedia, 2012
Transcultural Pilgrim imagery, undated
José Bedia, Interview recorded at the Fowler Museum, 2011
[Unlabeled DVD], undated

Art Figurines, 1989-1991

6 12 commercially-produced textile Abakuá figurines (8 large, 4 small) purchased in Havana, Cuba, 1989-1991