The 5th Annual Latin American Foto Festival features long-term social projects on different topics around family, memory, and culture from Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, Mexico, El Salvador and more.

For 3 years, Chilean photographer Tamara Merino studied the people still living in quilombos - houses in Brazil originally formed in the 18th and 19th centuries by people who had escaped slavery. Most families in these communities are direct descendants of those people.

In her time there, Merino identified a particular feeling among her subjects, what she calls “a deep emotional state of nostalgia and a profound melancholy”, or known in Portuguese "saudade". It can be translated as the longing for something that's absent, or someone who one loves.

This same word was part of the everyday language for the 4 million African people that were captured and forced into slavery, the very same who shape the Afro-Brazilian community today.

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Photo credit: Isolated Soul, Tamara Merino