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Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Resilience of Culture

Just in time for St. Croix’s Crucian Christmas Festival, which takes place annually in December and January, we learned of a great article on VI culture and hurricane recovery!

Charlie Weber, managing editor of the Folklife Magazine at the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, recently wrote to us to share the article “In the Heart of the Storm: The Resilience of Culture”. It looks at culture, carnival and music during the recovery period post Hurricane Hugo (a destructive storm that hit the Virgin Islands in 1989). In light of the recent hurricanes that affected the Virgin Islands in September 2017, the Folklife Magazine released the article.

The author of “In the Heart of the Storm: The Resilience of Culture” is Olivia Cadaval. She was the program curator for the U.S. Virgin Islands program at the 1990 Folklife Festival and is currently a curator and chair of cultural research and education at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.  She writes: “When news started coming in about the catastrophic damage Hurricane Irma brought to the Caribbean, I happened to be filing materials from the 1990 Smithsonian Folklife Festival’s program about the U.S. Virgin Islands. In my twenty-nine years at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, I’ve produced a healthy amount of research, but in going through those particular boxes, I felt odd reverberations.

On September 17, 1989, in the midst of ongoing research for the U.S. Virgin Islands program, Hurricane Hugo struck the islands, with the greatest damage occurring in St. Croix. As described in a Washington Post special report, “Not only was Christiansted strewn with uprooted trees, broken utility poles, shattered cars and tons of debris from buildings that looked bombed, but the verdant tropical island suddenly had turned brown. So strong were Hugo’s winds that most trees still standing were shorn of leaves.” While St. Croix suffered the brunt of the storm, St. Thomas and St. John were also significantly damaged.”

Continue reading the full article with photos and musical clips at: In the Heart of the Storm: The Resilience of Culture

Thank you Charlie for sharing this article with us and Olivia for writing it.

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