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Video clip of Behar presentation

Video - lecture and discussion No Comments »

SavageMinds just linked to this clip of a Ruth Behar introduction at a recent event at her alma mater, via YouTube’s new academic site.  Not sure whether EtnoCuba is equipped to deal with video yet or not, so this is an experiment, but be warned that the clip ends after she’s introduced and her prefatory remarks, but before her formal presentation begins.

The Pork Pirates of Hialeah

Journals, Miami 2 Comments »


Dear ethnographers, here’s an article from today’s Miami New Times about the pirate hog farms of Hialeah (yes, the Special Period traveled north). You might enjoy the vignette about killing the pig with an old Soviet-era gun, or the part about neighbors accusing each other of police informants… (la historia no tiene desperdicio)

Reviewing 50 Years of Revolution / Cuba and Its Futures

Conferences & CFPs 2 Comments »

Two conferences will take place over the following days. At Tulane University, Re/Viewing the Revolution: Fresh Perspectives on Cuba 1959-2009 , on April 9-10, includes the following presentations:

Rafael Rojas (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, Mexico; Visiting Professor, University of Texas, Austin), “Los pasados de Cuba. Historias e ideologias” — Esther Whitfield (Brown University), “Havana and the Aesthetics of Ruin” — Ernesto Menéndez Conde (Duke University), “El arte abstracto en (versus) las indagaciones sobre lo cubano”– Ariana Hernández-Reguant (University of California San Diego), “The Art of Invention”– Ramón Fernández Larrea (poet and independent scholar), “La risa en la sombra: muerte del humor politico en Cuba” — Round Table/ Mesa Redonda chaired by Ana López and Marilyn Miller (Tulane University)

Then, in Barcelona (march 25-26), a symposium at the Centro de Cultura Contemporánea, in Barcelona (Spain).


The symposium features scholars living  in Cuba (e.g. Victor Fowler, Julio Guanche, Magaly Espinosa) as well as abroad, most of them as exiles  (Ivan de la Nuez, Jorge Ferrer, Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Haroldo Dilla, Alejando de la Fuente, Velia Cecilia Bobes, Rafael Rojas).

You can see the whole program HERE.

50 years of Revolution. Special Issues and Recent Ethnographies

Consumption & material culture, Cultural production, daily life, Gender & sexuality, Globalization, greater Cuba, Health, History, media, Miami, music, new article, new chapter/edited volume, Race, Religion, Sport, Tourism No Comments »

Journal of Latin American Studies

Latin American Perspectives

In addition you might want to check out the following recent publications:

* By Ruth Behar and Lucia Suárez, an edited volume: THE PORTABLE ISLAND: Cubans at Home in the World.  Palgrave 2008.

* By Ivor Miller, a book: Voice of the Leopard: African Secret Societies and Cuba, University Press of Mississippi.

* By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant:

Special guest edited issue of the Journal of Latin American Anthropology, including introduction (“Alternative Geographies”), and articles by Laurie Frederik Meer, P. Sean Brotherton, Kenneth Routon, and Helen Safa.

“Radio Taino and the Cuban Quest for Identi…que?“, in Doris Sommer’s Cultural Agency in the Americas, Duke University Press, 2006.

“Havana’s Timba. A Macho Sound for Black Sex.” In Deborah Thomas and Kamari Clarke. Globalization and Race. Duke University Press, 2006.

* By Kenneth Routon. “Conjuring the past: Slavery and the historical imagination in Cuba.”  American Ethnologist (p 632-649), Volume 35 Issue 4

* By Laurie Frederik MeerPlayback Theatre in Cuba: the Politics of Improvisation and Free Expression,” in The Drama Review, Winter 2007, Vol. 51, No. 4, Pages 106-120

* By P. Sean Brotherton.  “We have to think like capitalists but continue being socialists”: Medicalized subjectivities, emergent capital, and socialist entrepreneurs in post-Soviet Cuba.  American Ethnologist, Vol. 35, Issue 2, pp. 259-274.  June 2008.

* By Mette Berg:

Between Cosmopolitanism and the National Slot: Cuba’s Diasporic Children of the Revolution, Identities (vol. 16, issue 2), Pages 129 – 156.

“Homeland and belonging among Cubans in Spain.”  Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, Vol. 14 no. 2, (pp. 265-290)

* By Katrin Hansing, (2009). “South-South Migration and Transnational Ties between Cuba and Mozambique,” in Transnational Ties: Cities, Migrations, and Identities. M. P. Smith and J. Eade. New Brunswick, Transaction Publishers: 77-90.

* Even if you are already familiar with Todd Ramón Ochoa‘s article, “Versions of the Dead: Kalunga in Cuban Kongo Materiality,” in Cultural Anthropology Vol. 22, No. 4, November 2007, you should check out this link from C.A., which includes study questions and an embedded video clip.

*By Kristina Wirtz:

Her book is entitled Ritual, Discourse, and Community in Cuban Santería: Speaking a Sacred World University Press of Florida, 2007.  (only on hard cover).

See reviews: McIntosh, Janet. “(Book Review) Ritual, Discourse, and Community in Cuban Santería: Speaking a Sacred World. University of Florida Press, 2007.” by Kristina Wirtz. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology vol. 18(1) 2009: 163-4. And a review byElina Hartikainen (citation only, full-text not available), in the Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, Volume 13, Number 2, November 2008 , pp. 461-462(2). Also, here is another link to a review (again, citation only) by Paul Christopher Johnson in the Journal of Anthropological Research, vol. 64, no. 4.  If you know of other reviews, or have your own comments, please take a moment to leave an update or comment!

Kristina Wirtz, “Hazardous waste: the semiotics of ritual hygiene in Cuban popular religion,” in JRAI vol. 15, pp. 476-501, 2009.

Kristina Wirtz:  “Divining The Past: The linguistic reconstruction of “African” roots in diasporic ritual registers and songs,” in Journal of Religion in Africa Special Issue: “African diasporic religions.”  27(2): 240-272, 2007.  Introduced by Stephan Palmié.

Wirtz, K. (2007) Deep language and diasporic culture: Learning to speak the ‘tongue of the orichas’ in Cuban Santería. American Ethnologist 34(1): 108-126.  Her abstract:

“Enregistered memory and Afro-Cuban historicity in Santería’s ritual speech,” in Language & Communication special issue: “Temporalities of Text.” 27(3), 2007.

Finally, check out two related pieces by Wirtz, “Introduction: Ritual Unintelligibility” (pp. 401-407. Read introduction) and “Making sense of unintelligible messages: Co-construction of meaning in Santería rituals,” (435-462. Abstract) in a special issue of the journal Text & Talk on “Ritual Unintelligibility,” 27(4), 2007.

* By Tom Carter

(1)  “New Rules to the Old Game: Cuban Sport and State Legitimacy in the Post-Soviet Era,” in Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. 15 (2): 194-215, 2008.

(2)“Pitén en la Plaza: Some preliminary considerations on spatializing culture in Cuba” in Image, Power and Space: Studies in Consumption and Identity. Alan Tomlinson and Jonathan M. Woodham (eds). Aachen: Meyer & Meyer. Pp. 97-112.

(3)  “Of Spectacular Phantasmal Desires: Tourism and the Cuban State’s Complicity in its Commodification of its Citizens,” in Leisure Studies. 27 (3): 241-257, 2008.

(4) “Family Networks, State Interventions and the Experiences of Cuban Transnational Sport Migration,” in International Review of the Sociology of Sport. 42 (4): 371-389, (2007).

(5) “A Relaxed State of Affairs?: On Leisure, Tourism, and Cuban Identity” in The Discipline of Leisure: Embodying Cultures of “Recreation”. Simon Coleman and Tamara Kohn (eds). Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 127-145 (2007).

* By Martin Holbraad:

Definitive evidence, from Cuban gods,” in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, special issue The Objects of Evidence,vol. 14, issue s1, April 2008. Based on evidence collected during fieldwork among practitioners of Afro-Cuban religion in Havana, this paper seeks ‘recursively’ to redefine the notion of anthropological evidence itself. It does so by examining ethnographically practitioners’ concern with the ‘evidence’ deities give (e.g. successful divinations, divine cures, etc.), by virtue of which people’s relationships with deities are cemented. To the extent that this indigenous concept of evidence is different from notions of evidence anthropologists take for granted in their own work, it occasions the opportunity to transform those very assumptions. But such a procedure is itself evidential – pertaining to the relationship between ethnography and theory. The paper sets out the virtues, both ethnographic and theoretical, of this circularity.

Thinking Through Things: Theorising Artefacts Ethnographically, ed. by Amiria Henare, Martin Holbraad and Sari Wastell.  Routledge 2007.  The volume, as well as this exchange about the book between Martin Holbraad and Daniel Miller, is surely of general interest to those of us with an interest in consumption, goods, and so-called material culture.  Additionally, Holbraad’s chapter, “The Power of Powder: Multiplicity and Motion in the Divinatory Cosmology of Cuban Ifá (or mana, again)” also ought to be of interest for many ethnocuba readers. The book is also reviewed at Savage Minds, here.

Roulette anthropology: the whole beyond holism,” in Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society, 32 (2). pp. 29-47 (2007). The paper builds an argument about holism in anthropological theory by drawing an ethnographic contrast between divination and gambling in Cuba.  Outlining the contrasting modes of prediction in each case, it is shown that while diviners’ predictions draw on cosmological models of the world, gamblers’ seek to source the cosmos itself.  Their concern with going beyond cosmology is bound up with their orientation (obsessive sometimes) towards what they call ‘cábalas’ – attention-grabbing coincidences of everyday life.  A similar contrast can be drawn with regard to anthropological notions of ‘holism’.  Available versions of holism are ‘cosmological’ inasmuch as they pertain to the role of models in anthropology.  Nevertheless, anthropologists too are as concerned with accessing the cosmos, allowing ‘the field’ to speak for itself in ethnography.  Like the gamblers (and unlike colleagues in more disciplined disciplines), anthropologists find that it is only when they stop reasoning in terms of pre-conceived cosmologies that worlds begin to reveal themselves as such.  So anthropology goes beyond holism by becoming more holistic than it already thinks it is: from cosmology to the cosmos.  It is oriented towards the underbelly of reason par excellence, ventriloquising itself into the cosmos at ‘ethnographic moments’ – coincidences – that can only register as ‘alterity’.  So a defence of radical ‘holism’, it is argued, is also a defence of a radical ‘exoticism’.

Expending Multiplicity: Money in Cuban Ifá Cults,” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute vol. 11 (2), pp. 231-254.  2005.

* By Maria Gropas

“Landscape, Revolution and Property Regimes in Rural Havana,” 2006. Journal of Peasant Studies, vol. 33 issue 2, pp. 248-277

The Repatriotization of Revolutionary Ideology and Mnemonic Landscape in Present-Day Havana,”  in Current Anthropology 48 (4), 2007. Includes commentaries by Virginia R. Domíguez, Nadine Fernandez, Martin Hall, Martin Holbraad, and Mona Rosendahl, as well as a reply by the author.  The conversation has an amplified on-line version, with additional color images, here.
*By Matthew Hill, “Re-Imagining Old Havana: World Heritage and the Production of Scale in Late Socialist Cuba” in Deciphering The Global: Its Scales, Spaces and Subjects, ed. by Saskia Sassen (2007).
* By Miguel de la Torre. 2003. La Lucha for Cuba: Religion and Politics on the Streets of Miami, University of California Press, by Miguel A. De La Torre. Reviewed Here by Laurie Frederik Meer’s in e-misférica.
* By Amalia Cabezas.  “The Eroticization of Labor in Cuba’s All-Inclusive Resorts: Performing Race, Class and Gender in the New Tourist Economy,” in Social Identities, Volume 12, Issue 5 September 2006 , pages 507 – 521.

* By Amy L. Porter, “Fleeting Dreams and Flowing Goods: Citizenship and Consumption in Havana Cuba” in PoLAR vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 134-149.  May 2008.
* By Noelle Stout.Feminists, Queers and Critics: Debating the Cuban Sex Trade,” in the Journal of Latin American Studies, vol 40, pp. 721-742 (2008).
* By Rogelio Martínez Furé. 2007. Eshu (oriki a mi mismo)  y otras descargas.
* By Valerio Simoni, “‘Riding’ Diversity: Cubans’/Jineteros‘ Uses of ‘Nationality-talks’ in the Realm of their Informal Encounters with Tourists” in Tourism Development: Growth, Myths and Inequalities, ed. by Peter M. Burns & Marina Novelli, CAB International, 2008, pp. 68-84.

Cuba in the Special Period

Cultural production, new book 2 Comments »

New edited collection:

Cuba in the Special Period. Culture and Ideology in the 1990s

Edited by Ariana Hernandez-Reguant

PALGRAVE MACMILLAN. New Concepts in Latino American Cultures 240 pp. / 0-230-60654-7 / $74.95 cl. · 20% DISCOUNT ORDER FORM (Promo Code: P356ED)


The book features contributions by anthropologists, literary, film and art scholars, and musicologists who frame the developments in Cuban arts, culture and ideological production in the island within the post-Soviet geopolitical landscape of the 1990s. A substantial introduction provides a complete overview of the cultural dynamics of the period.

Table of contents:

Writing the Special Period: An Introduction–Ariana Hernandez-Reguant * PART I: FOREIGN COMMERCE * Truths and Fictions: The Economics of Writing, 1994-1999–Esther Whitfield * Filmmaking with Foreigners–Cristina Venegas * Spiritual Capital: Foreign Patronage and the Trafficking of Santería–Kevin M. Delgado * PART II: PLURAL NATION * Multicubanidad–Ariana Hernandez-Reguant * Preemptive Nostalgia and La Batalla for Cuban Identity: Option Zero Theater–Laurie Frederik * Wandering in Russian–Jacqueline Loss * The Letter of the Year and the Prophetics of Revolution–Kenneth Routon * PART III: TRANSNATIONAL PUBLICS * El Rap Cubano: Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop the Movement!–Roberto Zurbano Translated by Kate Levitt * Audiovisual Remittances and Transnational Subjectivities–Lisa Maya Knauer * Ending the Century with Memories . . . : Paper Money, Videos, and an X-Acto Knife for Cuban Art–Antonio Eligio Fernández, Tonel.

Hello colleagues!

Blogs 5 Comments »

This is my first post as administrator of this just-launched blog.  The goal of etnocuba.ucr.edu (also ethnocuba.ucr.edu) is to facilitate communication and cooperation within the community of scholars conducting long-term ethnographic work in the Republic of Cuba or its diaspora, and it is modeled after the anthropological blog Savage Minds.  Thus, the intent is scholarly rather than political, to the extent such a distinction is possible in Cuban studies.  I expect the blog to evolve as I learn about WordPress, and–hopefully–as a community of users emerges.

The blog is publicly accessible, and anyone is welcome to read it.  Given the whole point of the site, I will be delighted to enroll fellow ethnographers as editors, in order to post articles and comments.  Otherwise, however, all comments will require administrator approval.


UPDATE (3/22/09).  Paul has kindly and quickly enrolled me. I will be posting information of interest as I receive it. Thank you. ariana h-r.

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