Martha Luz Machado’s most important publication is La Escultura sagrada Chocó en el contexto de las memorias de Africa y su Diaspora - Ritual y Arte, which was awarded the Prize of Fundacion Alejandro Angel Escobar, considered the highest scientific recognition in Colombia. Her Ph.D. dissertation and subsequently her book on Chocó focuses on the region in Colombia along the Pacific Coast where the majority of people of African descent reside in that country.
Her research at the University of Amsterdam has revealed religious memories of Africans in Latin America that seemed all but forgotten due to the traumatic legacy of slavery and more recently the terrorist strategy of civil strife and the war on cocaine. It shows the influence of African cultures on indigenous peoples of the region who are not of African descent.
Machado has pioneered new methodologies in the study of the cultures of the African diaspora. She has acquired skill in recovering memories, which gives her a conceptual and methodological approach that is ideal for further research into the African impact in the Americas.
She has considerable experience as a curator, having mounted four exhibitions about Africa and the African Diaspora. She has built a digital collection of sacred sculptures of the Amerindian peoples of Chocó that is based on analysis of objects in national and international collection.
Her documentary film La Flor del Mangle (1996) on the traditional fishing crafts of the African descendent fishermen of the Pacific Coast of Colombia is still screened in the communities of Chocó. It is important in demonstrating the impact of the constitutional reforms begun in 1991, which for the first time in Colombian history granted ethnic rights to people of African descent.
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