Cuban American Transnational Imaginaries (1980-2015)

Professor: Raul Moarquech Ferrera-Balanquet

327S / Spring 2016

Location: Frield 216 / East Campus
Meeting Times: W-F 3:05 – 4:20 PM
Romance Studies Department, Duke University

Ana Medieta

Ana Mendieta

Course Description

This course is designed for undergraduate students who have experience and are interested in US/Latino Studies, Art, History, Migration Studies, Spanish Language, Cuban Americans Studies, Afro Latinos, Cultural Studies, and Literature. This course is a survey of literary works, critical essays, creative artworks, films, media arts, net art, and cultural production by Cuban American authors and artists from 1980 to the present.

The course will be taught in Spanish, but fluidity in both English and Spanish communication is encouraged. This course will address issues of Cuban migration, citizenship, ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, class, among others as manifested in cultural expressions. Also, the course will re-imagine geographical locations of Cuban American populations beyond the stereotypical spaces, such as Miami, Florida.

Focusing on literary, artistic, cinematic, and critical productions by Cuban Americans from 1980 to the present, the class examines the ideological, economic, social, and creative ruptures produced by artists, critical thinkers, and writers such as Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Ana Mendieta, Jesus Barquet, Coco Fusco, Jesus Quiroga, Ana Magdalena Campos, Antonio Mendoza, Lydia Cabrera, Ana María López, among others. The fact that some of these works are constantly making reference to Cuba and Cuban culture could be interpreted as an act of re-remembering the location we were forced to leave. Other Cuban American artists engage in their experience in the United Sates commenting of migration, racism, sexism and, in some case, in the nature of the nation State, and foreign policy. In this context, the class will also explore the ethnic diversity within the Cuban American communities.

Course Aims and Outcomes

How the individual and collective voices of Cuban American critical thinkers, artists, and writers could be imagined as part of the global narrative experience of migration, displacement, and exile? What it means to be Cuban or Cuban American? How race, ethnicity, class gender, and sexuality play a definite role in the construction of Cuban American political identities? How Cuban American can make sense of a national identity when we are permeated by many transnational experiences?
Examining the cultural and social expressions produce by the Cuban American communities, at the end of the semester, the students will:
• Have more extensive knowledge of US Latin@s and Cuban American related to cultural production;
• Be able to indentify, discuss and analyzed key migration issues affecting US Latinos and Cuban Americans;
• Be able to comprehend and develop a vocabulary and terminology in Spanish about the cultural, social, and political motivations for Cuban American writers, thinkers, and artists;
• Will identify key urban and rural areas from where the Cuban American communities enunciate their creative, cultural, and literary productions;
• Be able to converse across the cultural and political differences active in the larger context of US/Latinos communities;
• Have reinforced and improved accuracy and fluency of written and spoken Spanish around the Cuban American experiences as it relate to the Caribbean Diaspora histories;
• Develop research skills and critical reflection about issues facing the Cuban American community and the Latin@s communities at large;
• Be able to apply critical thinking skills in their verbal and written communication and integrate academic knowledge and experience about issues of class, ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, ideology interweave with the production of cultural, creative and literary artifacts from the Cuban American community;
• Develop intercultural knowledge and competence; be aware of diversity and engage in critical dialogues with a wide range of critical theories, historical positions, artistic practices, literary texts, and research produced since 1980 within and about the vast cultural territory of Cuban Americans conforming an intrinsic part of the US/Latino Diaspora.

Course Rationale

At the present moment, when Cuba and the United States are sitting down to re-define the future of their diplomatic relations, the Cuban American communities faces the possible erasure of a 55 years old political period and a future historical invisibility. Cuban Americans are tide to a global conflict named The Cold War, historically constructed after World War II when the United States and the Soviet Union emerged as two binary ideological and military colonial superpowers. In 1959, when the social upheaval known as the Cuban Revolution took place, the proclaimed Marxism of the Castro’s regime forced the first wave of exiled Cubans —the Cuban exile is a historical formation dating back to the 1800s when Cuban criollos began contesting the Spanish colonial ruling. Subsequent waves of migration have known as Camarioca, Mariel Boatlift, and The Balseros known as The Cuban Rafters.

Class Objectives

• To provide a space for personal, creative and intellectual growth in many areas where the students will have the chance to inscribe their experiential knowledge.
• To provide opportunity to create and map an organic historical cartography of the Cuban American Diaspora and the many connections which act upon the variety of artistic, literary, and critical productions within this fluid territory.
• To engage in critical dialogues and conversations with other students, as well as with the work of other artists, scholars and curators in order to acquire new insights and venues for research, creative practices, writing, and organizational endeavors.

Required Books

Barquet, Jesus J. Un no rompido sueño, Ediciones Punto Creativo, Santo Domingo, 1994.

Cruz, Nilo. Anna in the Tropics, New York, NY, USA: Theatre Communications Group, 2003.

Fornes, María Irene. Manual for a desperate crossing, Alexander Street Press, 2007 (Online via Duke Library)

Fusco, Coco. English Is Broken Here: Notes on Cultural Fusion in the Americas, The New Press, New York City, 1995.

Garcia, Cristina. Soñar en Cubano / Dreaming in Cuban, New York, Ballantine Books, 1993.

Ojito, Mirta. Finding mañana: a memoir of a Cuban exodus, New York: Penguin Press, 2005.

Pérez Firmat, Gustavo. Life on the hyphen: the Cuban-American way, Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994, 2012 Revised Edition (Online).

Torres, María de los Angeles, editor. By heart/de memoria: Cuban women’s journeys in and out of exile, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2003.


The Cuban American Transnational Imaginaries (1980-2015)

Cuban Americans Transnational Imaginaries (1980-2015)



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