Research Travel Grants

Published: March 10, 2018


The UC-CUBA Academic Initiative will award up to six $1,500 research and travel grants to University of California graduate students conducting Cuba-related research in any field. Preference will be given to first-time proposals for initial research explorations, and for completing advanced projects.


Interested applicants should submit a brief (2-page maximum) statement that outlines the project and explains how it advances their planned course of study or dissertation completion, accompanied by a budget, a short CV, and a letter evaluating the project from the applicant's adviser. Those receiving the awards will be expected to present their work at a UC-CUBA seminar in early 2019.


Please submit your proposals and any questions to


The deadline for submission of proposals: April 15, 2018. Awards will be announced by May 1, 2018.




Report on UC-CUBA Academic Initiative Trip to Santiago de Cuba and Holguín

December 12-19, 2017

Office of City Curator, Santiago de Cuba

UC-CUBA Co-Director Nancy J. Burke (UC Merced) and Professor Emeritus and Executive Secretary Raul Fernandez (UC Irvine) traveled to Cuba from Dec 12-19 to conduct research and explore new avenues for scholarly and cultural collaboration. Professors Burke and Fernandez visited several academic and cultural centers in Santiago and Holguín. In Santiago they visited the Curador de la Ciudad Office1, the Emilio Bacardí Museum, the Museo de la Lucha Clandestina, the Casa de las Tradiciones, the Loyola Center, the Patio Artex, the Casa de la Trova, the Casa Velázquez, and the Casa del Caribe. At Casa del Caribe, Professors Burke and Fernandez viewed Casa’s collection of Afro-Cuban religious artifacts, discussed the religious lineage of the institution and reflected on the UC graduate students, most notably UC Cuba alum and now-UCSD Assistant Professor Hana Garth, who have worked with Casa.

It has been four years since Hurricane Sandy devastated much of the city of Santiago de Cuba. Professors Burke and Fernandez made an informal assessment of current economic and social conditions in the city and evaluated potential accommodations for UC-CUBA graduate student researchers. They noted improvements in the marina area2 and toured restored areas of the city, in particular the complete refurbishment of the famed Santa Ifigenia Cemetery which now includes the Fidel Castro’s burial vault. They also observed the transformation of the city’s main commercial area into a pedestrian zone, and the development for tourism of the areas surrounding the majestic San Pedro de la Roca (El Morro) Castle. Finally, they assessed the conditions of emblematic sites including the city’s Cathedral and historic San Juan Hill.

In order to advance his current research, Professor Fernandez met with members of the son musical ensembles La Familia Valera Miranda and la Orquesta Típica de Santiago de Cuba. Both Professors Burke and Fernandez met with Mr. Pérez Ung, a noted local radio music programmer, to discuss a range of topics related to issues of cross-cultural communications.

In Holguín Professors Burke and Fernandez visited the the University of the Arts (ISA-Filial Holguín) and Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC).

Professors Burke and Fernandez were welcomed at the ISA Holguín by Linguistics Professor Orlando Cedeño; they gave a short colloquium to a group of faculty and students. Cuban faculty members expressed great interest in Professor Fernandez’s publications on Cuban Jazz, and the colloquium included a lively interchange about Cuban popular music, including the contemporary rock-and-roll movement in Holguín. Professors Burke and Fernandez held several additional consultations with Professor Cedeño, who educated them on the history of opera in Holguín, including current productions and training opportunities.

At the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) Burke and Fernandez met with Director Manuel Pérez González to discuss how to nurture future relations between the Union and UC Cuba.

Finally, as part of her ongoing research on health and aging in Cuba, Professor Burke met with older adults struggling with caregiving responsibilities for elderly family members, as well as several undergoing advanced stages of cancer treatment. Through ISA Professor Orlando Cedeño, Burke also established new contacts with a gastroenterologist and an endocrinologist, continuing to expand her network of key informants on the Cuban healthcare system.

Co-Director and Professor, Nancy J. Burke, UC Merced
Co-Director and Professor, Anita Casavantes Bradford, UC Irvine
Associate Director and Professor, Hanna Garth, UC San Diego
Secretary and Professor Emeritus, Raul Fernandez, UC Irvine


  1. The Office of the Curador de la ciudad is an edifice composed of two parts. An older section built in the late 1700 as the Seminario San Basilio el Magno and a more recent segment built in the early 1950s. In the 19th century the San Basilio el Magno counted musician Esteban Salas and historian and essayist José Antonio Saco among its faculty. Beginning in 1908 the building housed the La Salle Christian Brothers elementary and high school where the brothers Ramón, Fidel, and Raúl Castro attended school in the 1930s.
  2. A Chinese development company is refurbishing the port facilities of the city.



8th UC-Cuba Graduate Student Conference at UCI

November 16, 2017






UC-Cuba Statement on DACA

September 8, 2017


Between 1959 and 1965, hundreds of thousands of Cubans fled political instability, repression, violence and material deprivation in their homeland. Under three consecutive US presidents, they benefited from executive actions that allowed them to live and work in the United States without immigrant visas and that provided millions of federal dollars for their resettlement, healthcare and education. In 1966 Congress acted to regularize the immigration status of these Cubans, most of whom had entered the US as "parolees" or on long-since expired tourist visas. The Cuban Adjustment Act granted these parolees and visa overstayers permanent resident status and provided them with an expedited path to US citizenship--though most of them declined to become citizens until the 1980s.


The recent decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive action that has provided temporary stays of deportation and work authorization to more than 800,000 undocumented young people--whose families have similarly fled political instability, repression, violence and material deprivation in their own home nations--has been justified by some as a corrective to an unprecedented and potentially unconstitutional overreach of executive power.


Today's Cuban American community owes its origins to just such an exercise of executive power.


As scholars of Cuba and its diaspora, we are not qualified to evaluate the constitutionality of these immigration-related executive actions. We nonetheless feel compelled to point out that they are not without precedent. Moreover, the history of the now prosperous Cuban American community, which has contributed so much to the social, cultural and economic life of the US, is just one example of the ways that our nation has benefited from the careful exercise of executive power to facilitate the integration of undocumented immigrants in our society.


The more recent history of DACA-mented youths' educational and professional accomplishments, their unwavering record of community engagement and desire to assume the full responsibilities of citizenship, provide further proof of the ways that executive action on behalf of unauthorized immigrants has enriched our national life.


As they did with the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, it is time for Congress to pass legislation allowing the 800,000 plus DACA-mented youth--as well as their hard-working, law-abiding undocumented family members--to regularize their immigration status and to live among us without fear, as equal members of the communities to which they have already contributed so much.


Anita Casavantes Bradford,

Ph.D. Co-Director, UC Cuba Academic Initiative

Associate Professor, Chicano/Latino Studies and History

University of California Irvine




University of California sues Trump administration on unlawful repeal of DACA program


UC Office of the President
September 8, 2017



National Botanic Garden of Cuba at UC Berkeley


Botanical Garden

National Botanic Garden of Cuba with Dr. Carlos Sanchez

Lecture | July 26 | 5-7 p.m. | UC Botanical Garden


Dr. Carlos Sanchez is a professor of botany at the University of Havana and botanist for the National Botanic Garden of Cuba. This summer Carlos is a visiting research scholar at UC Berkeley, and he has been the guide for two tours to Cuba in support of the UC Botanical Garden. His current research is on the ferns and lycophytes of Cuba and their conservation.


This illustrated talk will be immediately followed by Q & A and a reception featuring Cuban inspired drinks.


Event Contact:, 510-664-9841



UC-CUBA Travel & Research Awards

The following doctoral students were selected as recipients of the 2017 UC-CUBA Travel and Research Grants:

  • Allison Carlisle | Hispanic Languages and Literatures, UCLA
  • Paloma Checa-Gismero | Visual Arts, UC San Diego
  • Clarissa Ibarra | History, UC Berkeley
  • Yairamaren Román Maldonado | Spanish and Portuguese, UC Berkeley
  • Naomi Schoenfeld | Medical Anthropology, UCSF and UC Berkeley
  • David Tenorio | Spanish and Portuguese, UC Davis
  • Angeles Torres Mendez | Spanish and Portuguese, UC Irvine



UCLA Library Artist in Residence: Obsesión


UCLA Library Artist in Residence: Obsesion





May 4, 2017


Thanks to the generosity of the UC Office of the President (UCOP), and the U.C. Irvine Office of the Chancellor, the UC CUBA Academic Initiative launched its first scholar-in-residence program, inviting physicist Jesus Rubayo, from INSTEC (Institute for Science and Applied Technology of the University of Havana) to visit the University of California. Dr. Rubayo joined was in residence at the University of California, Irvine, from January 15 to April 15, 2017. For the first two months of his visit, he was accompanied by his wife, Irene Grueiro, Professor of Psychology and Applied Pedagogy at the University of Havana.

In addition to the residence at UC Irvine, the UC-CUBA team organized visits for Professor Rubayo to the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the University of California Merced and the University of California, San Diego.

At the invitation of UC President Janet Napolitano, Professor Rubayo attended the system-wide International Thinking Day March 6-7 event where he was welcomed by President Napolitano, UC Irvine Chancellor Gillman and several high-ranking UC officials.

The visit from Professor Rubayo is producing a qualitative jump in scientific relations between the University of California and Havana’s INStec. In the next few months several scientists from UC Irvine and UC Merced will be traveling to Cuba to participate in scholarly workshops and conferences.



Research and Travel Grants

April 2, 2017


The UC-CUBA Academic Initiative will award up to seven $1,000 research and travel grants to University of California Ph.D. students conducting Cuba-related research in any field. Preference will be given to proposals for initial research explorations and for completing advanced projects.


Interested applicants should submit a brief (2 page maximum) statement that outlines the project and explains how it fits into their planned course of study or dissertation completion, accompanied by a budget, a short CV, and a letter evaluating the project from the applicant's adviser. Those receiving the awards will be expected to participate in the 2017 UC-CUBA Graduate Student Conference.


Please submit your proposals to:

The deadline for submission of proposals: May 1, 2017. Awards will be announced by May 15, 2017.



UC-Cuba at the Cuban Research Institute Conference in Miami, Florida

February 23, 2017


Panel 33
Feeling Cuba at its Limits: Aesthetics, Materiality, Affect in Queer Texts and Images

Chairs: Alli Carlisle, University of California, Los Angeles, and Christina García, University of California, Irvine

Sponsor: UC-Cuba Academic Progam


Un acto fallido: Between Analytic Frame and Material Reality in Calvert Casey’s El regreso
Alli Carlisle, University of California, Los Angeles


Reading as Touching: Material and Sensuous Encounters between Severo Sarduy and Jean-Luc Nancy
Christina García, University of California, Irvine


Images of Counter-Utopia: Queerness, Temporality, and Visual Culture in PostSoviet Cuba
David Tenorio, University of California, Davis


La décima como marcador de tradición en la obra de Severo Sarduy
Dan Whitesell, University of California, Los Angeles


Discussant: Ivette Hernández-Torres, University of California, Irvine




January 29, 2017



Recent years have witnessed unprecedented changes in US-Cuba relations and in Cuba’s dual internal economies: the domestic sector and tourism. This panel discussion will address Cuban cultural identity, tourism, and the reinsertion of Cuba into a global market. It is moderated by Raul Fernandez, Professor Emeritus at University of California, Irvine. The panel includes Jorge Duany, Director, Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University; Adolfo Nodal, Partner at Cuba Tours and Travel; and Mrinalini Tankha, Postdoctoral Scholar at University of California, Irvine.

Location: Lenart Auditorium, Fowler Museum


No reservation required. This panel is free of charge.  CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION




The Current and Future State of Affairs between Cuba and the United States

Monday, January 30, 2017 | Time: 3:00 - 4:15 p.m. | Socila Science Tower 318


Jorge Duany

Director of the Cuban Research Institute and Professor of Anthropology, Florida International University


Jorge Duany is the Director of the Cuban Research Institute and Professor of Anthropology at Florida International University. He has held visiting teaching and research appointments at several U.S. universities, including Harvard, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and the City University of New York. Professor Duany has published extensively on migration, ethnicity, race, nationalism, and transnationalism in the Caribbean and the United States. He is a member of the Editorial Boards of the journals Puerto Rican Studies, Cuban Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, and Latino Studies. His latest books are titled Blurred Borders: Transnational Migration between the Hispanic Caribbean and the United States (2011) and La nación en vaivén: Identidad, migración y cultura popular en Puerto Rico (2010).





Co-sponsored by the UC-CUBA Academic Initiative, the Latin American Studies Center, and the Department of Chicano Latino Studies





November 4, 2016



To view the program please click on the image above. Below a few photos from the event and the farewell dinner.




UCLA International Digital Ephemera Project Trip to Havana,Cuba

October 15, 2016


Below is a photographic travelogue of the most recent visit made by a UCLA Library team for the International Digital Ephemera Project. You can scroll down through the presentation.

Created by Dawn Aveline



UC-CUBA Executive Board Member/Cornell Professor leads architecture student group to Cuba

October 10, 2016



From September 22 to October 1, Tom McEnaney (UC Cuba alumnus, executive board member, and assistant professor of Comparative Literature, Cornell University) and Tao DuFour (visiting assistant professor of architecture, Cornell University) accompanied twenty-seven Cornell undergraduate and graduate students from the schools of Arts and Science and Architecture, Art and Planning to Havana and Pinar del Río province to study the history of Cuban architecture, ecology, and culture, and their transformation today.



As Professor Tom McEnaney reports "the group was joined by local architects, a student, and faculty in architecture and environmental science, as well as a documentary filmmaker and Iulia Statica, an architect and scholar of socialist housing in Eastern Europe. Over eight incredibly busy and wonderful days, the group visited the socialist housing projects of Cienfuegos and Alamar, the former La Tropical brewery's outdoor festival area on the Río Almendares, the spectacular buildings and ruins of the Instituto Superior de Arte, the art studio of Kcho (with whom they met), the Las Terrazas eco community, the factories, homes, and urban gardens of the people of Central Havana, as well as the colonial restoration projects of Habana Vieja, and much more. A total success, the trip was partially funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Collaborative Studies in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities grant and Cornell University's department of Architecture, Art and Planning. An exhibit at the end of the semester at Cornell will feature the architecture students' building proposals, and the humanities students' final and more. The attached photos of the ISA and La Tropical were taken by Cornell students Daniel Preston and Christine Kim."




OCTOBER 2, 2016–FEBRUARY 12, 2017



The Fowler Museum is pleased to present Nkame, the first solo museum exhibition in the United States dedicated to the work of Belkis Ayón (1967–1999)—the late Cuban visual artist who mined the founding myth of the Afro-Cuban fraternal society Abakuá to create an independent and powerful visual iconography. Ayón was known for her signature technique of collography, a printing process in which a variety of materials of various textures and absorbencies are collaged onto a cardboard matrix and then run through the press with paper. Her deliberately austere palette of shades and subtle tones of black, white, and grey added an air of mystery to her narratives, many of which were produced at very large scale by joining multiple printed sheets. For a black Cuban woman, both her ascendency in the contemporary printmaking world and her investigation of a powerful all-male brotherhood were notable and bold. The exhibition covers a wide range of her graphic production from 1984 until her untimely passing. Nkame, a word synonymous with “greeting” and “praise” in the language of Abakuá, is a posthumous tribute to the artist as well as a sweeping overview of her most fertile period of artistic creativity. The project is guest curated by Cristina Vives, an independent curator and art critic based in Havana, Cuba, and is organized by the Belkis Ayón Estate and Dr. Katia Ayón with the Fowler Museum at UCLA.



UC CUBA 2016 Graduate Student Conference Call for Papers


The UC-CUBA Multi-Campus Academic Initiative will hold its seventh annual Graduate Student Conference and Workshop on November 3-4, 2016. The conference will be held at the University of California Merced. UC-CUBA is a supportive, inclusive, and diverse community that nurtures graduate student research, builds networks, and fosters dialogue between Cuba scholars that offer ideologically pluralistic viewpoints.


UC-CUBA invites scholarly exploration of any topic related to the history, politics, economics, sciences, culture or society of Cuba and its diaspora, as well as its intellectual, artistic, and scientific expressions and achievements, past, present, or future. Paper submissions will be accepted from UC graduate students in, but not limited to, a wide range of disciplines representing the Humanities, Social Sciences, Education, Arts, and Sciences. We welcome papers that represent a broad array of theoretical and methodological approaches, and especially encourage graduate students whose research enhances fresh and innovative transnational, comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives on Cuban Studies.


Interested graduate students should submit a 250-word abstract of their paper, along with the following information: author's 1 page CV including academic affiliation, address, telephone number, and email address, to UC faculty with Cuba-related expertise who are interested in serving as panel discussants are also encouraged to send inquiries, including their academic affiliation, and contact information, and current CV, to the above email.


Please note: attendance at the UC Cuba Graduate Conference is by invitation only.


The deadline for submission of abstracts is September 6, 2016. Notifications of acceptance/refusal will be sent out by September 20, 2016, along with specific instructions for presentation. For further information about other UC-Cuba activities, please email:



Ana Niria Albo from CASA in Havana visits UC and CSU campuses

May 20, 2016




Ana Niria Albo, the Assistant Director of the Program for the Study of Latinos in the United States at CASA DE LAS AMÉRICAS in Havana visited California, at UC-CUBA’s invitation from May 8th to May 20th.


The Study of Latinos in the United States program at CASA was founded with a mission to explore issues of identity, social conditions, education, and relations with countries of origin, that affect the growing Latino population in the United States.


Albo’s own doctoral research focuses on the role played by concepts of race, especially blackness and indigeneity, in the identities of latina/o youth; she also has interests in the undocumented student movement and in issues of educational social justice in general.


Her trip had three goals: (1) to inform us about her research, (2) to use the trip as a sort of 'field work' that will support her investigations on Latinos and education in the United States, and (3) to organize UC-CUBA’s participation and potential co-sponsorship of CASA’s October 2017 International Conference on Latinos and Education in the United States.


During her visit Ana Niria Albo made presentations at UC Irvine, UC Merced, UCLA, CSU Dominguez Hills, CSU Stanislaus and CSU Northridge.



Latin American Studies Conference in CSU San Bernardino

May 1, 2016


The Latin American Studies conference at CSU San Bernardino, focused this year on Cuba, was a first-rate gathering with numerous and excellent presentations. The UC-CUBA contingent was well-represented with panel interventions by Magda Matuskova, Jennifer Monti, David Ramirez, Andy Martinez, Dan Whitesell, Bethany Beyer, Susannah Rodriguez Drissi, Amalia Cabezas, and a lecture by Raul Fernandez. Below a snapshot of Susannah, Bethany, and Dan Whitesell during their presentation.



Download LAS Program



New Cuba exhibit at MIM in Phoenix, Arizona

April 6, 2016



The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix, Arizona, just opened a beautiful expanded exhibit dedicated to Cuba, drawing from their diverse collection of Cuban instruments, including a number of significant new acquisitions.


The many superb instruments include personal instruments of several cherished Cuban artists, i.e. the set of batá made and played for decades by Oscar Valdés, including throughout the time of Irakere, the 1957 WFL timbales Guillermo Barreto played on Descargas Cubanas, four pieces original to Los Muñequitos de Matazas and former director Jesús Alfonso Miró, a violin of Celso Valdés who has dedicated 60 years to playing with Orquesta Aragón, and exceptional Afro-Cuban beadwork from NEA National Heritage Fellow Felip Garcia Villamil.


Click on the link to see news release and additional image.




UC Berkeley in Cuba

March 31, 2016


(click on the image to visit Berkeley's study abroad site)


(click on the image below to see a high resolution PDF version)

UC-CUBA Workshop at UC Berkeley

February 5, 2016


Graduate students and faculty from UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Merced and UC Irvine held a workshop in the Social Sciences Data Laboratory (D-Lab), Berkeley Campus, on Friday, February 5, 2016.


At D-Lab we were hosted by Professor Justin McCrary, School of Law, and Director of D-Lab.


Chancellor Professor Lisa Garcia Bedolla, member of UC-CUBA’s Executive Board, chaired the event.


Among the highlights at the workshop:


  • A presentation by UC Davis History Professor Marian Schlotterbeck on Fidel Castro’s 1971 visit to Chile which was followed by an exciting discussion full of insights and supportive commentary.
  • A tour by Librarian Carlos Delgado, also a member of UC-CUBA’s Executive Board, to an exhibit he curated at the Moffitt Library at UC Berkeley on Fidel Castro’s visit to the Soviet Union while Nikita Khrushchev was still Prime Minister.
  • A report by Co-Director Nancy Burke on her recent trip to Havana.
  • Announcements and discussion about the UC-CUBA Fall 2016 Workshop/Conference which will take place at UC Merced; the CSU San Bernardino Cuba conference on April 28-29, 2016; and the 2017 CASA conference in Havana.


UCLA/School of Nursing-Program to Cuba

by Maria Elena Ruiz



Almost four years ago, I traveled to Cuba as a delegate with the American Public Health Association (APHA). This was my first venture to Cuba, although my nursing, sociology, minority health, and public health background has fueled my interest for many years. How does Cuba and other low income countries manage health promotion and prevention with such low resources? What is the state of medical and nursing education in Cuba; and how have the physician-nurse teams evolved with limited resources?


From this first personal exposure to the Cuban model of care, I was determined to make connections, to make friends with key health leaders in Havana, and to establish a program for nurses in the U.S. My overriding goal was to take the good, the bad, and the ugly and to sift through this, so that we could come away with creative, beneficial strategies that we may develop and work to implement in our underserved communities-especially as nurses are the most trusted health profession in the US (although we often go unrecognized and underrepresented in the leadership arena).

A year later, we were able to develop a public health focused program for students, supported by the International Program at the School of Nursing at UCLA. In December, we completed our 3rd annual nursing student trip, with 20 nursing students participating in a fast-paced nursing/public health immersion experience.
We have been told that we are the first all nursing group to Cuba, and that we have an innovate program-and the Cuban health leaders and the people have embraced us!
Similar to our program in Oaxaca, Mexico, we have structured a program where we interact with health ministry leaders, participate in discussions with representatives from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), HIV/AIDS and other centers, have exchanges with medical and nursing schools, visit maternity homes, senior day centers, policlinics, as well as interact with grassroots community organizations, and experience various cultural experiences.


Last year, we could not have planned a better day to arrive! On December 17th, our group was in Miami, ready to board our flight to Havana when news broke out that President Obama and Raul Castro were simultaneously announcing a historic shift in US-Cuba relations; after 54 years of the embargo, the US and Cuba would begin to open up discussions. The energy and passion was evident in the airport-everyone wanted to share the news. One hour later, we were in Havana and it was exhilarating! At the neighborhood hotel, the manager rushed to greet us with much joy and hugs-thanking us for bringing such happiness to their country. From that day on, we were embraced and continuously told, “we have been crying tears of joy, thank you for bringing us search great news.”


What do the students take from these experiences? They read and learn to critically compare and contrast what the literature says, with what they see first-hand (we recognize the limited lens we have of health care in Cuba), and they come back more knowledgeable of the intersection between of culture, politics and health. They also come back to the US ready to be innovate, to consider doctor-nurse teams, and to reconsider health disparities and the upstream approach. After the trip, students return energized, working more as a team, and critically assessing the notions of team work, collaboration, solidarity, familismo, advocacy, as well as expanding global collaborations.


Maria Elena Ruiz, PhD, RN, FNP-BC
Family Nurse Practitioner (Enfermera Especialista Familiar)
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Director International Scholarship
Coordinator, Latin America & Cuba Project
Affiliate Faculty: Chicano Studies Research Center & Latin America Institute

Roundtable conversation: "The New Cuban Economy”

January 27, 2016 | School of Social Sciences, UC Irvine


from left to right: Moderator, Taylor C. Nelms, Postdoctoral Researcher in Anthropology | Raul Fernandez, Professor Emeritus of Chicano/Latino Studies and Secretary of the UC-Cuba Academic Initiative | Rafael Betancourt, Visiting Economist from Cuba | Mrinalini Tankha, Postdoctoral Scholar, Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion.


In a free-flowing conversation moderated by Taylor C. Nelms, three scholars of Cuba-Rafael J. Betancourt, Raul Fernandez and Mrinalini Tankha-discussed the current economic situation in Cuba and ongoing reforms, with special attention to the dual currency system, and in light of the recent reopening of relations with the U.S. Together they demystified come common assumptions by providing concrete evidence of lived economic experienced in Cuba. They challenged widely held assumptions about Cuba’s “isolation” from the rest of the world, as well as the novelty of change in the island. The panelists noted investments in Cuba by China, Russia, Brazil and European countries and critically interrogated comparisons between Cuba’s market reforms and other post-socialist transformations in China, Vietnam, and Eastern Europe. Betancourt, Fernandez and Tankha also confronted obstacles to change in Cuba, including the country’s dual-currency system, U.S. policies including the embargo, and regional, generational, racial and other disparities within the country. The discussion addressed the role of corruption and access to internet and ended with attention to the potential of an “ethos of solidarity” and the extent to which it will persist to guide what one of the speakers, Rafael Betancourt called the “social and solidarity economy” in Cuba.


Event was sponsored by The Dean of the School of Social Sciences, the Center for Organizational Research, the Jack W. Peltason Center for the Study of Democracy, the Center for Global Peace & Conflict Studies, the Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion, and the Department of Anthropology.



Sixth UC-CUBA Graduate Student Conference and Workshop

November 12-13, 2015


Participating Members


The sixth graduate student conference and workshop sponsored by the UC-CUBA Academic Initiative took place at UC Irvine on November 12-13, 2015. Co-sponsored by the School of Social Sciences, the Office of Global Engagement, the Graduate Division and the Department of Chicano Latino Studies the event explored new directions in Cuban studies in the context of recent changes in the island and in U.S-Cuba relations.


Twelve graduate students, eight women and 4 men, from six campuses (UC San Diego, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis and UC Berkeley) presented work-in-progress papers in the areas of literature, history, anthropology, and the arts. Below in order of presentation the complete list of graduate student participants, their fields and affiliations:


Teresa Sanchez, Music, UC Riverside; John Schranck, Comp. Lit. UC Santa Barbara; Joshua Weis, Anthropology, UC Davis; Paloma Checa-Gismero, Art Theory and History, UC San Diego; Naomi Schoenfeld, Anthropology, UC Berkeley/UCSF; Alli Carlisle, Spanish Lit., UCLA; David Ramirez, Spanish Lit., UCLA; Genesis Lara, History, UC Davis; Jennifer Monti, Spanish Lit, UCLA; Clarisa Ibarra, History, UC Berkeley; Arelis Rivero-Cabrera, Spanish Lit., UC Davis; Andrew Martinez, World Arts and Culture, UCLA.


The presenters received comments from faculty members, postdoctoral fellows and other graduate students. Faculty members included Professors Emilio Bejel (Spanish- UC Davis), Robin Derby (History–UCLA), Marian Schlotterbeck (History, UC Davis), Ayesha Nibbe (Anthropology-Hawaii Pacific University), Ivette Hernandez-Torres (Spanish and Portuguese–UC Irvine), Anita Casavantes Bradford (History and Chicano Latino Studies, UC Irvine), Professor Nancy Burke (Anthropology and Public Health, UCSF/UC Merced) and Raul Fernandez (Emeritus, Chicano Latino Studies, UC Irvine).


Past and current postdoctoral fellows affiliated with UC-CUBA participating in the event were Drs. Lee Cabatingan, Hanna Garth, Andrew Gomez, Teishan Latner, and Mrinalini Tankha and Professor Rocio Rosales.

Fellow graduate students Elizabeth Schwall, Daniel Whitesell, Christina Garcia, and Magda Matuskova also served as discussants. Conference organization was led by doctoral student Christina Garcia (Spanish-UC Irvine), and included Ph.D. candidates Elizabeth Schwall (History, UC San Diego-Columbia University), Dan Whitesell (Spanish Literature, UCLA), postdoctoral scholar Mrinalini Tankha (Anthropology and IMTFI, UC Irvine) as well as UC-CUBA Co-Directors Professor Nancy Burke (Anthropology and Public Health, UCSF/UC Merced) and Anita Casavantes Bradford (History and Chicano Latino Studies, UC Irvine) and Executive Secretary Raul Fernandez (Emeritus, Chicano Latino Studies, UC Irvine).


To View Program Click Here



Premio Princesa de Asturias de las Letras - Leonardo Padura Speaks at Awards Ceremony

October 30, 2015

Link to Writen Speech



Cuban legends Buena Vista Social Club to play at White House

October 14, 2015


Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club, which performed at UC Berkeley last Friday, and in South Coast Plaza, Orange County (CA) on Sunday, will become the first Cuban group to play at the White House in half a century on Thursday, a US official said.


The Grammy-winning band will play at a White House event to mark Hispanic Heritage Month, where President Barack Obama will also make remarks, according to press reports "The Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club is the first Cuba-based band to perform at the White House in over 50 years," a White House official said. The group became an international success following its 1997 album, with hits like "Chan Chan" and "Candela."


Of the original members featured in the 1997 documentary only a few remain: Guajiro Mirabal on trumpet, sonero Eliades Ochoa, laúd player Barbarito Torres,and the 86-year-old Omara Portuondo, an excellent jazz singer, even though she has to be helped on-and-off the stage. The photos show our Executive Secretary chatting with the late Ibrahim Ferrer and Omara Portuondo during the early version of BVSC.


The current tour group boasts of a number of outstanding younger players: Rolando Luna on piano, one of the top pianists in Cuba today, who has accompanied the likes of Haila Mompié and other vocalists; male vocalist "Calunga," who made his fame with timba ensembles Klimax and Manolito y su Trabuco in Havana; and the fabulous Idania Valdés, a superb singer, dancer, and polished performer. Idania Valdés is the voice of “Rita,” in the animated film Chico y Rita.


BVSC will play a few more times around the U.S. during this tour. If interested you can check their schedule on-line.



UCLA Conference - The Legacy of Che Guevara

October 17, 2015


This conference is organized by distinguished Professor and Art Historian David Kunzle. Professor Kunzle is the author of Chesucristo : The Fusion in Image and Word of Che Guevara and Jesus Christ.





Students from UC Irvine, San Diego, Santa Barbara and UCLA in Cuba Summer Program


In June 2015, UCLA launched a month-long summer travel study program in Cuba. Lead by Robin Derby and Andrew Apter, the core of the program consisted of two courses.


Robin Derby, a scholar of Caribbean politics and popular culture, taught a course on Cuban revolutionary history and culture, exploring how the revolution has shaped popular music, dance, agriculture and literature alongside patterns of race, class and gender.


Andrew Apter, a specialist in West African history and cultural exchange, taught a course on Afro-Cuban religion and ritual including Santería, Palo, Abakua and Espiritismo.


The program was organized through CIEE and based at the Centro de Estudios Martianos in Havana, and included nine guest lectures by Cuban scholars, as well as weekly excursions to museums, musical performances including Rumba, Bata and Salsa, and sacred spaces such as temples and shrines to observe altars and speak with priests and devotees.


It also included a weekend field trip to Trinidad to see the UNESCO designated heritage site, el valle de los ingenios. 29 students enrolled in the program from UCLA, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego.


The travel study program will be offered yearly rotating among a group of UC-Cuba affiliated faculty at UCLA.



UC-CUBA Summer 2015

UC Irvine | July 31, 2015


There is much activity by our colleagues in Cuba this summer by our UC-Cuba colleagues.


Professors Robin Derby and Andrew Apter from UCLA just returned from conducting research in Cuba and leading a group of students for a 1-month stay and study in Havana. Students received instruction from distinguished Cuban academics i.e. historian Oscar Zanetti, and cultural critic and leading Black intellectual Roberto Zurbano among others. Students were also guests at a private "güiro" event by devotees of the Afro-Cuban Regla de Ocha religious tradition.


Professor Amalia Cabezas from UC Riverside led a people-to-people delegation which visited Santiago de Cuba at the time of THREE important events: 1) The Santiago Carnival, most "Caribbean" of all Cuban carnivals, 2) The commemoration of the 26th of July, 1953, attack on the Moncada barracks in the city and 3) the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Villa de Santiago by the Spanish conquistadores.


Dr. Gabriela Santizo, currently lecturer at UC San Diego visited Havana in order to continue her studies of current women’s writers including the work of writer Nancy Alonso and others.


Dr. Teishan Latner, UC Irvine, whose book will be coming out soon by UNC Press plans a trip in August to continue his studies of U.S.-Cuba relations in the 1960-1980s period.


In September, Christina Garcia, from UC Irvine (Spanish and Portuguese) will be traveling to Havana pertaining to her studies of contemporary Cuban literature.


Finally, REVOLUCIÓN Y CULTURA, Número 1, 2015, just released, features the article "Leonardo Acosta descolonizador," authored by Daniel Whitesell, UCLA, and Raúl Fernández, UC Irvine.


Call for Papers: UC-CUBA 2015 Graduate Conference | November 12-13, 2015

UC Irvine | July 15, 2015


The UC-CUBA Multi-Campus Academic Initiative will hold its sixth annual Graduate Student Conference and Workshop on November 12-13, 2015. The conference, organized around the theme "New Directions for a New Era in Cuban Studies," will be held at the University of California Irvine. UC-CUBA is a supportive, inclusive, and diverse community that nurtures graduate student research, builds networks, and fosters dialogue between Cuba scholars that offer ideologically pluralistic viewpoints. UC-CUBA views the current moment – with recent developments in external diplomatic and trade relationships as well as shifting internal economic, political, social/cultural forms–as propitious for rethinking and reflecting upon new directions in our own Cuba-related scholarship.


Our conference theme invites scholarly exploration of any topic related to the history, politics, economics, culture or society of Cuba and its diaspora, as well as its intellectual, artistic, and scientific expressions and achievements, past, present, or future. Paper submissions will be accepted from graduate students in, but not limited to, a wide range of disciplines representing the Humanities, Social Sciences, Education, Arts, and Sciences. We welcome papers that represent a broad array of theoretical and methodological approaches, and especially encourage graduate students whose research enhances fresh and innovative transnational, comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives on Cuban Studies.


Interested graduate students should submit a 250-word abstract of their paper, along with the following information: author's 1 page CV including academic affiliation, address, telephone number, and email address, to UC faculty with Cuba-related expertise who are interested in serving as panel discussants are also encouraged to send inquiries, including their academic affiliation, and contact information, and current CV, to the above email.

Please note: attendance at the UC Cuba Graduate Conference is by invitation only.


The deadline for submission of abstracts is September 1, 2015. Notifications of acceptance/refusal will be sent out by September 15, 2015, along with specific instructions for presentation. For further information about other UC-Cuba activities, please email:



UC-CUBA founding member Rubén Rumbaut receives prestigious award

UC Irvine | May 15, 2015


Rubén G. Rumbaut, one of the founding members of the UC-CUBA Academic Initiative, and UC Irvine Distinguished Professor of Sociology, has been elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is internationally known and widely cited for his research on children and young adults raised in immigrant families of diverse nationalities and socioeconomic classes. Rubén, who has testified before the U.S. Congress at hearings on comprehensive immigration reform, was elected in 2013 to the National Academy of Education in recognition of his outstanding contributions in educational research and policy development.


Perhaps a less well-known aspect of Rubén’s multi-faceted career as a sociologist has been his commitment as a public intellectual to hold aloft the banner of Cuba against all obstacles. In 2006 Rubén was one of a handful of University of California faculty members who came together to launch the UC-CUBA Academic Initiative. He was the organizer and Chair of a session on "Current U.S.-Cuba Relations," at the UC-CUBA International Conference on "Cuba: New Research Directions," held at UC Irvine, May 2-3, 2008. Rubén participates actively in intra UC-CUBA communications via our listserv contributing articles, photographs, and links, as well as frequent humorous interventions.


Rubén’s Cuba-related activities have been so vast that we will merely point to some of the highlights.


He has lectured in Havana on his areas of expertise to an audience of representatives from multiple research centers from the University of Havana and elsewhere. He continues to serve as consultant to Casa de las Américas in Havana. In the United States, Rubén has been writing about Cuba and things Cuban for decades, presenting at academic conferences since 1975, from LASA to UC-CUBA to ASA, from the Brookings Institution to UNC Chapel Hill. Two significant essays, co-authored with his brother Luis Rumbaut, appeared in Societies Without Borders, (2007), "If That Is Heaven, We Would Rather Go to Hell:" Contextualizing U.S.-Cuba Relations; and in Latin American Perspectives, (2009), Survivor: Cuba. The Cuban Revolution at 50.


Rubén was a member of the 1977 Antonio Maceo Brigade, a group of 55 young Cubans who visited Cuba, after having left the island with their families as children during the 1960s and the 1970s, when their parents rejected the Cuban revolutionary process. It was the first effort to establish a dialog between the exile community and the government in Havana.


In 2006 Rubén became a founding director, ENCASA/US-CUBA (Emergency Network of Cuban American Scholars and Artists for Change in US-Cuba Policy). Along with a few other valiant volunteers ENCASA/US-CUBA sought to demonstrate the falsity of a monolithic Cuban American position on U.S. policy towards Cuba. An early product of ENCASA's work was the historic April 2006 full page ad in the Miami Herald announcing its formation which became a front-page story in the process. Under Rubén’s leadership the organization fought for the improvement of U.S.-Cuban Academic Relations, gave briefings on Capitol Hill, lobbied Congress, became part of practically every effort to end the travel/trade embargo and push for normalization of US-Cuba relations, released white papers, wrote letters to editors... and to President Obama too (in 2010) etc. Rubén would send periodic status reports to the ENCASA membership which grew into a national network of more than 400 scholars, artists, writers, academics and professionals affiliated with universities in more than 150 cities in 37 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In a way, Obama's policy change in 2009 and the executive actions of 12/2014 are a measure of success and a validation of what ENCASA worked for.


Two photographs demonstrate in a historic sense Rubén’s life-long commitment to his native land. One photo of Rubén shortly after his birth is evidence that a Cuban identity started early for him! In a second photograph, taken many years later on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution at a conference in Canada, Rubén is flanked on his right by Professor Louis Perez, the 'dean' of Cuban historians in the United States, and on his left by Cuba's former representative to the United Nations, ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs, and then President of Cuba’s National Assembly, Mr. Ricardo Alarcón. If you look carefully it may be noticed that Rubén is wearing on his lapel both the Cuban flag pin and a bolo tie, a legacy of having finished high school in Albuquerque, New Mexico!


Just like UC Irvine likes to draw credit from the AAAS recognition, so should Cuba, which Rubén has consciously tried to represent to the best of his ability in all of his public life since arriving in the United States.


Amén y aché!


Raul Fernandez, Coordinator
UC-CUBA Academic Initiative


To view the UC Irvine campus news release regarding Rubén’s election to the AAAS click the link below:





Money and Everyday Economic Life in Contemporary Cuba


A conversation with Mrinalini Tankha


UC Irvine | May 11, 2015 | 12:00 - 1:00 PM | Jeff Garcilazo Room SST 318





Two forthcoming books


Rebecca Bodenheimer, GEOGRAPHIES OF CUBANIDAD, University of Mississippi Press.


Bodenheimer examines the presence of significant cultural/musical distance between eastern and western Cuba as well as the different meanings of “blackness” in various parts of the island. She lays bare the contradiction that eastern Cuba, widely regarded in Havana as the “Blackest” region of the island, is simultaneously celebrated as the cradle of the “mestizo” Son genre. Bodenheimer documents in impressive detail the rise in the last forty years of two new rumba styles, the batarumba and the guarapachangueo. This is a truly refreshing book about Cuban music and culture which, by connecting notions of race and place, explores the way in which musical practices define regional identities in the island.

Melissa Blanco Borelli, SHE IS CUBA: A GENEALOGY OF THE MULATA BODY, Oxford University Press.

Melissa challenges, or better yet, turns on its head, decades of writing in history, literature, and sociology about a character identified as the tragic mulata. She argues the contrary, re-writing the history and sociology of the mulata as an active agent by focusing on the mulatas’ historically active bodies, and specifically as the mulatas’ dancing bodies in Cuban popular music.


The work is based on an impressive amount of archival research, oral histories, and the author’s personal corporeal experiences as a mulata in and out of Cuba. The work is, simultaneously, an engaging performance. Melissa has a knack for words: I particularly liked her coining of a term, Hip(g)nosis which, to me, truly captured the theme and message of the manuscript.


April 2015 lectures by UC-CUBA affiliates


APRIL 15: Teishan Latner, UCI History Ph.D., currently Research Associate at the Center for Black udies Research, University of California, Santa Barbara: " CUBAN REVOLUTION, U.S. LEFT:Race and Global Radicalism in 1960s America," Washington University in St. Louis, hosted by the Program in African and African American Studies. Wednesday, April 15, 2015, in Busch Room 18, 5:00pm - 7:00pm.


APRIL 16: 3-4:30, Elizabeth Schwall, Ph.D. Candidate, Columbia University, Visiting Graduate Student, UCSD, will present on "VALUING DANCE: The Politics of Patronage in the Cuban Republic," in the Deutz Room, Institute of the Americas Complex, UCSD. Material discussed from the first chapter of her dissertation on Cuban dance and politics.


APRIL 17: 2-3:30, also in the Deutz Room, Institute of the Americas Complex, UCSD, Anita Casavantes Bradford, Assistant Professor of Chicano Latino Studies and History at UC Irvine, leads a Book Discussion about her book THE REVOLUTION IS FOR THE CHILDREN: THE POLITICS OF CHILDHOOD IN HAVANA AND MIAMI, 1959-1962.


APRIL 30: Teishan Latner: "The Socialist Palenque: Cuba, Assata Shakur, and the Diplomatic Politics of Exile and Freedom," UC Santa Barbara, hosted by the Center for Black Studies Research. Thursday, April 30, 4603 South Hall, 4:00pm - 6:00pm



The Cuban Danzón


Venezuelan Super Star Conductor Gustavo Dudamel, with his youth orchestra, interpreting Mexican composer Arturo Márquez’ Cuban-inspired Danzón No.2.




UCLA Summer Program in Cuba


UCLA Cuba Program


Anita Casavantes-BradfordCuban Heritage Collection Recives $2 Million Gift

The Goizueta Foundation gift will endow a Graduate Fellowship Program and support the continued growth of the CHC.


By Barbara Gutierrez and Sarah Block

UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 19, 2015) — In 2010, Anita Casavantes Bradford, a doctoral student at the University of California, San Diego, came to Miami to conduct historical research at the Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) as part of the inaugural class of the Graduate Fellowship Program.




UC-Cuba affiliates weigh in on changing US-Cuba relations


Andrew Gomez on Public Radio


Andrew Gomez participated in a round-table discussion on

Santa Monica's KCRW on the recent changes on U.S.-Cuba relations. KCRW

is linked to NPR News. The participants in the round-table are listed below.



Ted Piccone, Brookings Institution

Carlos Alzugaray, former Cuban diplomat and political analyst, speaking fromHavana

Jorge Mas, Cuban American National Foundation (@vozdecanf)

Andrew Gomez, 29-year-old Cuban American

Ann Louise Bardach, journalist and author


Click Here to listen to the interview.



Professor Ayesha Nibbe on NPR

Click here to listen to the interview.








Teishan Latner in the Washington Post

Click here to read the article

UC Cuba Graduate Student Conference/Workshop

November 21, 2014 - Univeristy of California, Irvine

"Disentangling Cuban Publics"


Poster UC Cuba Conference 2014


[Download Program]


Havana Film Trip


This trip to the 2014 Film Festival in Havana may be of interest to all film lovers in UC-Cuba.


Havana Film Festival


For complete information CLICK HERE



CRI conference call for papers


This is a reminder that the deadline for submitting papers to next year’s Cuban Research Institute conference is October 31, 2014. The theme of the conference is "More Than White, More Than Mulatto, More Than Black": Racial Politics in Cuba and the Americas.
Four prominent experts on racial politics in Cuba and the Americas (Alejandro de la Fuente, Ada Ferrer, Andrea Jean Qeeley, and Danielle Pilar Clealand) will lead a plenary session at the conference, scheduled for February 26–28, 2015.


Click here for information.



Dr. Hanna Garth discusses Cuban cooking and cookbooks.

This article illustrates the ways communities maintain and adjust the boundaries of local cuisine as food systems change. Focusing on contemporary Cuban household cooking practices, I reveal the importance of cookbooks and television in helping household cooks adjust to food system changes. Through her cookbooks and television show, Nitza Villapol, a famous Cuban chef, played a significant role in demonstrating how to cook with a drastically restricted set of ingredients during and after the economic crisis of the 1990s. Her work aided Cubans in making adaptations without completely changing the local cuisine. This article outlines the scope of Villapol’s work, the relationship between her work and the Cuban state, and how Cubans remember her role in the 1990s and use her work today. I argue that Nitza Villapol’s work was crucial in helping Cuban household cooks learn to use available ingredients to create dishes that call for now scarce ingredients.



To Read Article Click Here




UC-CUBA Coordinator Raul Fernandez last visit with Luis Carbonell

May 30, 2014



On November 20, 2013, Professor Raul Fernandez visited the home of Maestro Carbonell in Vedado, La Habana. Shown in photo is the late Luis Mariano Carbonell autographing for Raul a copy of EL ARTE DE LUIS CARBONELL.


Cualquier valoración que se haga del arte de Luis Carbonell, Premio Nacional de Musica, habrá que partir de la premisa de que en este singular artista predominan, en su modo de hacer, la cultura, el talento y el rigor de todo lo que incorpora al repertorio a interpretar y a su peculiar manera de estudiar cada poema, cada estampa, para devolvérnoslo con un acabado, que de cierta manera hace suya la obra. «La poesía no es tan difícil, lo verdaderamente difícil es pulir un poema, declamar es precisamente lo más fácil para mí.»


Si ser pianista fue la ilusión más grande de su vida, algo que no pudo lograr, aportó, empero, una manera–su manera–de declamar Ia poesía y la estampa, que parte de su estudio profundo, de la captación de las imágenes; nadie ha podido decir como él, con la sabia y gracejo criollo, un poema como La negra Fuló, o el trágico dramatismo de Ia Elegía a Jesús Menéndez.

“Yo soy Van Van, yo soy Cuba…”

From the tune Soy todo, by Juan Formell


Juan Formell (1942-2014) contributed much to the revolution in Cuban dance music taking place in the 1970s and 1980s. He did so as the leader of Los Van Van, perhaps the most exciting dance band in the entire world during those decades (I will not dignify silly comparisons with other contemporary groups like the Rolling Stones!). Formell's tunes are part of the vast heritage of Cuba's dance music. Rather than a musicological explanation of why Formell was so important, it is more rewarding to listen to his emblematic compositions. Everyone has his or her favorites. Mine are: Ven y muévete ("covered" by Ruben Blades and Seis del Solar), El Guararey de Pastora (based on a traditional changüí and covered by Ray Barreto), Sandunguera (which received many covers), Ritmo Azúcar (covered by Celia Cruz among others), and El negro está cocinando. If Cuba is your subject of research and study, and you are not familiar with Formell’s music I invite you to listen to those tunes in the links provided by clicking the images below.


...Voy a publicar tu foto en la prensa…

Ven y Muevete

Guararey de Pastora


Ritmo Azucar

El Negro Está Cocinando

Armando Peraza: Lord of the Drum

(photo by Tom Ehrlich)


Armando Peraza, one of the most exciting bongo and conga players of all time passed away on April 14. Peraza rose to the top of his trade in several distinct rhythmic genres.


He excelled as a percussionist in traditional Cuban music, Latin jazz and Latin rock.


The "younger" generation knew Peraza as the conga drummer for SANTANA for whom he played for 17 years.


Before his Latin rock days Armando Peraza excelled in the Latin jazz combos of George Shearing and Cal Tjader in the 1950s and 1960s.


He was the famed bongo drummer for the Conjunto Kubavana in the 1940s in Havana.


Because of the inexactness of birth records Armando age was a bit of a mystery. A best guess is that he was born sometime between 1914-1916, thus he was probably 98 or 100 at the time of his death.


A resident of the Bay Area since the late 1940s Armando's playing was known to have impressed and influenced the poets of the "Beat" generation
in the San Francisco Area.


Among bongo and conga drummers, Peraza was regarded as a true virtuoso, unequaled as a bongo player and capable of amazing, flashy solos on conga drums.

Article by Dr. Louis Perez - April 2014

Dr. Pérez is the J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of History and Director of the Institute for the Studies of the Americas at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and editor of Cuban Journal. His research and award-winning publications examine the history and identity of the nineteenth and twentieth century Caribbean, with a special focus on Cuba. Professor Perez just wrote the article attached, Cuba as an obsessive compulsive disorder, which deserves careful reading. RF.


Download Article


UC CUBA AT CHC March 20-21, 2014

Two of our UC-CUBA colleagues presented papers at the recent CHC conference at the University of Miami. You should be able to id Susannah Rodriguez Drissi and Anita Casavantes Bradford in the picture.


 View Original Image












April 18-19

Race in the Americas conference at the Claremont Graduate University. Several members of the UC-CUBA community are panelists and/or will be attending. Conference organized by the estimable Professor David Luis-Brown.


 Download Conference Program










Arts talk at UCLA - April 29


UCLA's School of the Arts and Architecture, along the UCLA Latin American Institute and department of World Arts and Cultures | Dance, presents doctoral student Andrew Martinez and University of Michigan professor Ashley Lucas in a performance lecture about their respective careers in performance and research.

During the summer of 2013 these two scholars traveled to Rio de Janeiro to research improvisational theatre practice inside two Brazilian prisons. For this presentation, Dr. Ashley Lucas and Andrew Martínez will perform a version of their journeys through arts practice and research - tracing the intersecting lines of scholarship, activism, theatre, rhythm, and dance-grappling with what performance can achieve within spaces where a government restricts its subjects' language, movement, and freedom of expression.


Join us for a Homeboy Industries pre-show reception hosted by the Center for Brazilian Studies at 6:30 PM in Glorya Kaufman Hall's Rainbow Lounge.

About the presenters:


Dr. Ashley Lucas is one of the world's leading experts about issues surrounding incarceration and theatre happening inside prisons now.


Andrew Martínez, a Culture and Performance PhD student, is writing an history of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba. He is interested in investigating how the arts function symbolically and culturally within a national context.



Lecture by Leonardo Padura - February 18


The Cuban Researc Institute (CRI) at Florida International University, School of International and Public Affairs will host a lecture by world renown Cuban author, Leonardo Padura, on Feb. 18th at 3:30pm in the GC Ballroom of FIU's Modesto M. Maidique Campus. We hope you will join us and advise anyone who may be interested of the same. RSVP is requested to attend, please click on the link below to RSVP. If you should have any questions, please call us at











Remembering Katherine Hagedorn - November 15, 2013


In 1994 I was invited to give a lecture at Pomona College on some aspects of Cuban music. As it often happens in these kinds of events, there were some problems with the audiovisual equipment, with the arrangements of seats, etc. Fortunately there was a person there who ran around quickly, got all the equipment to work, rearranged the seating, made sure my microphone was clipped in the best place and got me water. At the end of my lecture that same person was busy re-organizing the room, helping the tech people with the equipment, picking up. I thought it was really nice of Pomona College to assign a person, probably a staffer, to basically attend to my needs so I walked up to her, after all the questions were answered and the session was finished, to thank her. I found out that her name was Katherine Hagedorn and that she was a faculty member in the Music Department at Pomona College. That first encounter captures for me something I will remember about Katherine: a most helpful, caring, and generous person, who always thought of others before she thought of herself. As a child I was told that “quién no vive para servir, no sirve para vivir,” which is difficult to render into English, but could be translated as “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” That is the life that Katherine lived.


In the years that followed Katherine and I became very close professionally. We read and critiqued each other’s work, met frequently to discuss the scholarly and popular literature on Cuban music, salsa and jazz, attended a wide variety of music and dance events, worked jointly on a variety of projects, and wrote supporting letters of evaluation for each other. She showed me new and different ways to listen to and appreciate music. I watched in amazement as she mastered the batá drums under the tutelage of Francisco Aguabella. Personally I became aware of Katherine’s profound spirituality.


In December of last year (2012) Katherine and I traveled to Cuba for a week to continue our respective research agendas. We spent many hours together. Presumably we were going to make progress on a joint manuscript on contemporary Cuban music we’ve been working on for a year or so. We did make some progress but not much because being in Katherine’s company a great deal of the time was spent laughing and telling stories. That trip to Cuba captures for me another thing I will remember about Katherine: her sense of humor, her uncanny ability to mimic other people in a funny yet totally sympathetic way, her smile, and her laughter.


Katherine was kind, generous, funny, simpática, and very spiritual.


Katherine was one of the most soulful persons I have ever met.


Raul Fernandez




“Tu santita” By Elba Capote (Translated by Daniel Whitesell)


I have many memories of “Katy” [“Kathy”], but now that I realize that I will only be able to see her again through my soul and my heart, images come to me of “Katy” riding all around Havana on a bicycle, and she had a yellow bicycle in honor of the patroness saint of Cuba, Our Lady of Charity (Our Lady of El Cobre), and one time she told me:


“Elbita, if I disappear on the streets of Havana, I want you to take care of the bicycle, because you are my ‘santita’ [protector or guardian angel],”


And I don’t know if I have remained at her side as her “santita,” but I do know that she has become a very important part of my life; we have been together for all of the many times she came to Cuba to research music and drumming, and all of the times she couldn’t come to Cuba. Our friendship was tested at times and we also enjoyed great moments together and “Katy” was always so nice and friendly, so good, and strong minded, and so intelligent.


“Katy,” I’m very sorry (you don’t know how much so) that I did not have the opportunity to say good bye to you, that I wasn’t able to be by your side like the real “santitas,” but even though you’re far away, you will always be at my side, and we will laugh again together about everything, because you will always be with me, you remain with me as my dear friend in my heart, and this for me is enough.


Good bye, dear “Katy,” you have already joined those little angles who protect us.


I love you so much.


Your “Santita”



Original Spanish Version


Tengo muchas imágenes de Katy, pero ahora que sé que no la veré de otra forma que no sea a través de mi alma y de mi corazón, me vienen imágenes de Katy por toda La Habana en bicicleta, y ella tenía una bicicleta amarilla en honor a la virgencita de la Caridad del Cobre, y una vez me dijo,


"Elbita, si yo desaparezco en las calles de La Habana quiero que me cuides la bicicleta, porque tú eres mi santita,"


Y yo no sé si he permanecido a su lado como su santita, pero sí sé que ella se ha convertido en una parte muy importante de mi vida, hemos permanecido juntas durante todos sus estudios de música, de tambor, todas las veces que estuvo en Cuba, y todas las veces que no pudo llegar a Cuba, y nuestra amistad pasó grandes pruebas y disfrutó grandes momentos y Katy siempre tan linda y amable, tan buena, y cabeza dura, y tan inteligente.


Katy: lamento mucho, no sabes cuánto, no haber podido despedirme de ti, no haber podido estar a tu lado como las verdaderas santitas pero, aunque lejos, siempre estarás a mi lado, y nos volveremos a reír de todo, porque yo nunca voy a aceptar que no estés, tú te quedas como mi amiguita de mi corazón, y eso para mí es suficiente.


Chao, Katy querida, ya formas partes de esos pequeños ángeles que nos protegen.


Te quiero mucho,


"tu santita"






Afro-Cuban Culture at the CRI - November 20, 2013




Professor Nancy Burke

Cuba's health system - October 17, 2013



The Cuban healthcare system is evoked as a symbol of revolutionary success and counterhegemonic possibility for health practitioners, scholars, journalists, and politicians around the world. Cuban government statistics on infant mortality, infectious disease control, and physician/patient ratios are heralded as “first world numbers” emerging from “third world conditions.” Experienced firsthand by those in countries hosting Cuba doctors and returning medical students trained at the Latin American School of Medicine (Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina or ELAM) outside of Havana, the Cuban model travels both practically and ideologically. Building upon the recently published Health Travels: Cuban Health (care) on and off the Island (UC Medical Humanities Press 2013), Dr. Burke will discuss how ethnographic accounts of the daily lived reality of the production and reproduction of this healthcare system lend complexity to exceptional claims and illustrate the creative labor involved in the provision of care in the context of scarcity and rapid change.