The pen, jewelry, rosary, and leather notebook were gifted to me by loved ones and are depicted here as cultural representations of the importance of ‘all my relations’ as a first-generation Dominican (Taíno) American. This indigenous worldview speaks to the interconnectedness of the whole person to all creation and in recognition of the principles of harmony, unity and equality. The Theory of Evolution by Common Descent is a scientific concept that, in plain and simple terms, speaks to this interconnectedness: we are all related as descendents of a single ancestor.
Scientific knowledge is one form of knowledge. It is a shared body of observations agreed upon by many individuals, ancient and modern, contributing over time, with no one person owning or producing these ideas. Within this tradition, I study why humans dance. Movement, or the impulse to be in motion, whether it is crawling, climbing, slithering, swimming, flying, walking, leaping, etc., is universal. But the ability to move rhythmically to a beat, to coordinate the body in response to sound, to ‘dance’, is unique. What is happening in the brain when we dance? What can dance teach us about the brain? And why do humans even dance?
If the dancer becomes the dance, then the writer becomes the words, weaving together letters that become sentences that become paragraphs, expressing the way the writer thinks. These ideas become a dance of prose when communicated in the written word, becoming a powerful way of sharing our phenomenology (or how we make sense of our world) because who we are is not separate from the work we do as scientists. As a first-generation Dominican American (Taíno), I believe that amplifying our lived experiences and cultural knowledge (our values, constructs of reality, and worldviews) enriches our understanding of the complexities of scientific knowledge.
The majority of the narratives that we hear, including scientific knowledge, are from western, white, and Global North perspectives. But there are more voices in the environments that fill those spaces. But who gets to share their ideas? And why? The phenomenology of minoritized voices, when viewed through the lens of their corresponding cultural context, should broaden our compassion and respect of the many worldviews, the many forms of knowledge. Storytelling - in science, with words, and through movement - is a compelling way of expanding the diversity of what is considered knowledge. So I also help others share their stories.