Julia Leah Koprak

Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities

20032004 Forum on Belief

Julia Leah Koprak


College '04

Seeing as Believing, Believing as Seeing: Santeria

In the United States, religious faith does not always figure into daily sensory experience; often it remains at the level of abstraction and can even seem alien in the midst of an increasingly secularized society. It is precisely this distance that draws Koprak to the study of contemporary faith. For Koprak, the syncretic Afro-Cuban religion of santería produces an exceptional degree of awe and curiosity because of the radicality—and seeming impossibility—of propositions central to its faith such as the divine possession of a living body. Koprak will undertake a study of santería through photo essays, interviews, and testimonials in order to bridge the gap of incredulity that separates her from a more profound understanding of this particular system of belief.