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Twenty-two PhD Dissertations on Cuba in 2009

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, dissertations 5 Comments »

There were twenty-two PhD dissertations focused on Cuban matters, deposited in American universities during 2009, all in the humanities and social sciences. The three first are ethnographic and I include their abstract.

1.The nocturnal negotiations of youth spaces in Havana by Reilly, Matthew J., Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2009, 300 p. Based upon ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Havana, this dissertation explores the linkages between youth and public space. This project focused on a thirteen-block area of Calle G, Cuba is clearly reflected in the discourse of these young people and the identity politics they engage in. Youth are creating their own social space outside of the sphere of state regulation and influence, and this venue provides Cuban youth with a space to explore and create their own identities in relation to local as well as transnational cultural flows. This public space serves as a venue in which to display the various lifestyles of Cuban youth, lifestyles that are often predicated on access to hard currency.  Furthermore this project addresses the role of urban culture through both music and fashion in the evolution of youth subcultures.  Havana’s youth, through their nocturnal negotiations, their play and their imagination, have transformed the abstract space of Calle G into a collectively-created alternative social space. Therefore they are claiming their spatial rights, their rights to be in public and be a public, and thus their right to the city.

2. Becoming Santeria: A transnational study of cultural politics, media and religion in Cuba and the United States by Beliso-De Jesus, Aisha Mahina, Ph.D., Stanford University, 2009, 289 p. This dissertation examines the cultural processes by which Santeria religious practices are reinvented, circulated and transformed through contingent transnational processes, travel, tourism, consumption and religious media. I write about first, how shifting local and transnational politico-historical contexts shape the positioning and cultural politics of Santeria practices in specific ethnographic dynamics; second, how Santeria practitioners from diverse social historic locations reconceive ideas on religion, diaspora, citizenship, race and sexuality as they negotiate with everyday practices, rituals, travel, and laws in transnational communities. This ethnography is based on 24 months of participant observation, interviews, and archival research–carried out from 2004 to 2007–with Cuban and U.S. Santeria practitioners, Cuban government officials, religious tourists, Cuban and U.S. religious associations and churches in Havana and Matanzas, Cuba and New York, Miami and the San Francisco Bay Area. I studied the everyday interactions between Cuban and “foreign” Santeria practitioners in Cuba. I traced the trajectory of legal and illegal U.S. religious tourists in Cuba before, during and after travel and examined how practitioners move and indeed transform religious and national boundaries, forging ties, creating new hierarchies and negotiating knowledges within these translocal communities. Furthermore, I examined the recording, circulation and viewing of rituals and religious media between the United States and Cuba as actively imagining multiple diasporas and homelands simultaneously through translocal communities. By examining the simultaneous re-imagining of multiple diasporas and homelands, that is, how the United States, Cuba and Africa are linked and interrelated, this ethnography emphasizes the hetereogeneity and fluidity of Santeria practices.

3. “Donde nace lo cubano”: Aesthetics, nationalist sentiment, and Cuban music making by Hope, William M., Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2009, 317 p. This project is a comprehensive cultural analysis of Cuban Son and Punto Guajiro performance, situated within Cuban cultural nationalisms and the Cuban Revolution. This dissertation seeks to understand the interrelationships between aesthetics, music making, and processes of cubanidad, understood as an aesthetic disposition; one linked through the social practice of music making to a range of ethical and political orientations . The focus on music making provides a window into the struggles of and within Cuban cultural nationalist projects; the social revolutionary process of the last 50 years as manifested in the changing relations between artists and the revolutionary Cuban state evidenced in socialist cultural policies; and the shifting role of the market in shaping the opportunities and constraints of Cuban musicians on the world stage and at home. This dissertation provides ethnographic specificity on the racialized, gendered, and classed dynamics of contemporary expressive cultural practices of Cuban Son and Punto Guajiro through the examination of a group of Guantanamero musicians, their familial and community contexts, and the manners in which they are positioned within national and transnational discursive fields of artistic production. I argue that it is within each performative manifestation that such musicians give embodied substance to processes of cubanidad.

4. The fruits of citizenship: African Americans, military service, and the cause of Cuba libre, 1868–1920 by Charleston, Sherri Ann, Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2009, 356p

5 .The desired revolution and the New Man: Assembling and negotiating cultural and intellectual practices in Revolutionary Cuba by Porben, Pedro P., Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2009, 428p

6.The circulation of transatlantic ideas and people in Cuban slave society, 1791-1844 by Paul, Eric A., Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2009, 206p

7. Reading revolution: Politics in the U.S.-Cuban cultural imagination, 1930–1970 by Gronbeck-Tedesco, John A., Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin, 2009, 430p

8. Tension under the sun: Tourism and identity in Cuba, 1945-2007 by Gustavsen, John Andrew, Ph.D., University of Miami, 2009, 382p

9.The cartooned revolution: Images and the revolutionary citizen in Cuba, 1959-1963 by Someillan, Yamile Regalado, Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park, 2009, 421p

10 Not blacks, but citizens. Racial politics in revolutionary Cuba, 1959–1961 by Benson, Devyn Spence, Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2009, 229p

11. Leading the life of a Modern Girl: Representations of womanhood in Cuban popular culture, 1919–1929 by Lotz, Lizabeth M., Ph.D., The University of North Carolina, 2009, 222p

12. Let there be candy for everyone: The politics of sugar in Cuba, 1902–1952 by Speck, Mary Elizabeth, Ph.D., Stanford University, 2009, 427p

13. Eduardo Chibas: The incorrigible man of Cuban politics by Ehrlich, Ilan, Ph.D., City University of New York, 2009, 508p

14. El nuevo escritor caribeno y su puesto en la narrativa latinoamericana contemporanea: A proposito de tres antologias del cuento reciente by DeJesus Rivera, Albert, Ph.D., University of Houston, 2009, 283p

15. Hombre nuevo en nueva tierra: The aspirations of recently arrived Cuban immigrant adolescents by Alvarez, Maria, Ph.D., The University of Iowa, 2009, 299p

16.Citizenship, religion and revolution in Cuba by Watson, Carolyn E., Ph.D., The University of New Mexico, 2009, 303p

17. Cuban-American women’s anglophone novels of the 1990s by Ignizio, Graham, Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2009, 183p

18.Cultural maps, networks and flows: The history and impact of the Havana Biennale 1984 to the present by Rojas-Sotelo, Miguel Leonardo, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2009, 563 p

19. Detective novel in Puerto Rico and Cuba: The cases of Wilfredo Mattos Cintron and Leonardo Padura Fuentes by Ramos Collazo, Jose Antonio, Ph.D., University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, 2009, 343p

20. (Dis)enchanted writings: The poetics of ruins in Cuban contemporary narrative by Gomez, Ivette Miriam, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine, 2009, 202p

21.A contraluz: Politica cultural de la revolucion cubana by Aviles-Quinones, Alicia, Ph.D., Tulane University, 2009, 309p

22.Arte abstracto e ideologias esteticas en Cuba by Menendez-Conde, Ernesto, Ph.D., Duke University, 2009, 299p

In addition, there was one thesis for the qualification of Doctor of Music Arts:

Leo Brouwer’s “Estudios Sencillos” for guitar: Afro-Cuban elements and pedagogical devices by Castilla Penaranda, Carlos Isaac, D.M.A., The University of Southern Mississippi, 2009, 105 p.

On Baseball and Moral Authority in Cuba. A PhD Dissertation by Ben Eastman.

dissertations 2 Comments »


Dissertation Defense of Benjamin Harris Eastman

“Baseball, Moral Authority and Political Transformation in Contemporary Cuban Socialism”

TUESDAY, Febrary 23, 2010 at 10:30 a.m. in Haskell 101

The Dissertation has been approved for hearing by the following members of the advisory committee who are: John D. Kelly (Chair). Raymond D. Fogelson. Stephan Palmie. John MacAloon

Amidst the deprivations and disappointments of the so-called Período Especial en Tiempo de Paz [Special Period in Peacetime], baseball in Cuba has remained a vital site for demonstrating concern for the values and meanings of Cuban socialism. It might seem in this context that baseball would indeed be a distraction from the more serious business of day-to-day survival among the ruins of a once formidable “cradle to grave” social welfare system. Yet, in the routinization of crisis that has marked the now 19 years since the “special period” was initially declared, this dissertation argues that the playing, spectating, and commodifying of baseball
in Cuba offers keys to understanding not only how oblivion has been averted but how new meanings have emerged to sustain Cuban social and political structures and to provide coherence, however contingent, however fleeting, to Cuban experiences of these crises.
Through an ethnographic as well as theoretical focus on games, on the categories of risk and contingency upon which they hinge, I consider the “enigmas of continuity and change” (Kelly 2005: 1015) in contemporary Cuban socialism as not exclusively matters of coercive force or economic prosperity (Kornai 1980, cf. Verdery 1996, Burawoy and Verdery 1999) by highlighting the ways in which structures are never total but always historical, and power emerges in the specific ways in which risks are taken and the results managed in collective efforts, both official and popular, to make sense of as well as inhabit a post-Soviet world.

* Ben Eastman previously published “Rejected America: Adolfo Luque, American interventionism and Cubanidad,” in the  International Journal of the History of Sport, vol 22 (6), Nov. 2005, pp. 1136-1172.

New Dissertation on Cuban Music and Identity in Barcelona (Spain)

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, dissertations, greater Cuba No Comments »

Iñigo Sánchez,  doctor en antropologia por la Universidad de Barcelona, me manda via Facebook el link a su tesis doctoral sobre música e identidad entre los residentes cubanos de Barcelona. La tesis se puede descargar gratuitamente en .pdf en la pagina web del CSIC (AQUI)

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