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The Seeing Eye is the Organ of Tradition

By Paul Ryer, Consumption & material culture, Cultural production, daily life, Globalization, greater Cuba, Miami, urban life, youth cultures No Comments »

Since the 1990s, U.S. flag-themed hats, shirts, pants, and especially bodysuits have seemingly been popular fashion among ordinary Cubans. More precisely, given that the Cuban flag has a white star on a red background, with blue stripes, it is at minimum clear that this fashion does not signify Cubans’ own national banner, and while conceivably referencing Puerto Rico’s bandera, it is fair to say that both foreign visitors and Cuban residents interpretNYT-image-12-14 CROPPED the symbolic referent to be Old Glory. And this, I think, is where things get interesting, since images of U.S. flag-wearing Cubans are a recurrent feature of stories of post-Soviet Cuba in the U.S. media and press, as if to visually confirm pro-U.S. popular sentiments among the population, Q.E.D., obviously political, no further exegesis necessary. One can find this pattern from the cover of Christopher Hunt’s superficial travelogue Waiting For Fidel in 1997, right to the present day. Consider, for instance, the framing of “If Not David to the U.S. Goliath, Cuba Asks What Its Role Is Now,” by Damien Cave and Victoria Burnett, published in the New York Times on December 20, 2014 as part of the barrage of that month’s NYT-led diplomacy. As seen here in cropped form, the lede image of the accompanying slide show, “Cuba Braces for the Winds of Change,” I submit, was carefully chosen to evoke exactly this sort of reading in the U.S.-based readership of the Times.

A century ago, the founder of American anthropology, Franz Boas, taught his students that we see what we are prepared to see: the seeing eye is the organ of tradition. When I first encountered U.S. flag-themed sartorial choices throughout Cuba as a novice ethnographer living in Havana in the mid-1990s, I also initially read them this way, as startlingly clear and overt statements of personal political preference.  What else could they possibly mean, in a context in which images of both Cuban and U.S. flags had for decades saturated state media in clearly politicized ways? And yet… and yet, the more I learned about the people and contexts in which these styles appeared, the more inadequate that initially obvious reading seemed. Not necessarily (or always) wrong, but certainly partial, superficial, and misleading. Many pro-revolutionary grandparents, Party members, and apolitical youth were equally crazy for this stuff!  Over time, I became both more interested in and puzzled by the possible meanings of this style, until one day in 2002 in a small town in central Cuba, I ran into two eight or nine year old girls, holding hands; one was wearing a new-to-me variant of the U.S. flag-themed shirt (see Ryer 2006). I stopped them to ask where the shirt was from, and the girl wearing it beamed and said: “Oh, I am from here, and this is my cousin visiting from Florida, and she brought it for me as a gift, isn’t it great?” (my translation). This simple exchange highlighted an overlooked if obvious point: all of this U.S. themed clothing is imported not in official state-controlled shops, of course, but is hand-delivered by close family or friends abroad. In other words, wearing it also marks one as having familia en exterior, family abroad. As I have argued elsewhere, beyond symbolizing the United States, since the 1990s wearing Stars and Stripes apparel in Cuba is a marker par excellence of one’s privileged access to increasingly important transnational remittance circuits.

Even long before the work of Victor Turner, anthropologists have understood that there are multiple meanings to any symbol, and that is certainly true in the case of enduringly popular U.S. flag-themed apparel in post-Soviet Cuba. But to only see the political, pro-American image as intended by the U.S. popular press, generates, I believe, a dangerously simplistic and even misdirected reading of the sort which once led American planners to anticipate massive Cuban popular support for their epically misjudged Bay of Pigs invasion. Even in 2014, not all meanings are global, nor are they necessarily obvious to the casual observer or photographer.

 

UPDATE:

The re-opening of the embassies and ongoing limited rapprochement between the two governments has kept up the drumbeat of these sorts of images, including more from the New York Times, but also from the international press.  Consider, for instance, this story & images from the Guardian, and this recent cover from the Mexican edition of Revista Letras Liportadamexico_1000_1bres.

The Capacity to Share: new volume on Cuban educational internationalism

By Paul Ryer, greater Cuba, new book, new chapter/edited volume, Space & Place, youth cultures No Comments »

Although not “by or for ethnographers of contemporary Cuba and its diasporas,” The Capacity to Share: A Study of Cuba’s International Cooperation in Educational Development, (2012) ed. by Anne Hickling-Hudson, Jorge Corona González and Rosemary Preston, capacity to share coverwill be of substantial interest to scholars of Cuban education, as well as to those of us focusing on Cuban-educated international students.  Of particular interest are chapters on Cuban-educated graduates from the Anglophone Caribbean, from Ghana, Namibia, and Latin America, as well as the experiences of Cuban teachers in Jamaica, Angola and elsewhere.  Most interesting to me, at least, is an extended interview (by Sabine Lehr) with a Cuban-educated neurosurgeon, but there is also an article on the international film and media school likely to be of interest to several EthnoCubans.  As one can see from the publisher’s summary below, the book has a strongly political perspective which can be distracting, but not to the point that it is unreadable.  More worrisome is the fact that Palgrave has only released it in hardcover, for $95.00 plus shipping!

 

From the publisher:

The Capacity to Share is a discussion of Cuba’s international policies in education. It shows how Cuba shares its educational resources with other countries by helping them with scholarships; school and university teaching; and the development of adult literacy programs and of educational planning. The postcolonial critique underlying the book explores Cuba’s role in relation to how the disengagement from colonial legacies in education is taking place in many countries. This kind of critique is useful in discussing the alternatives that become possible with disentanglement from the constraints of colonial histories.

“1.5 generation” African-Cubans

By Paul Ryer, Ethnographic film, greater Cuba, new article, Space & Place No Comments »

As some of you know, a handful of scholars–including Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Aisha Nibbe, Alissa Bernstein, Carol Berger, Sabine Lehr and myself–have been writing about the lives of Cuban-educated international students.  While most of us are ethnographers and anthropologists, because we have encountered these students in a wide range of contexts–anywhere from urban Cuba to refugee camps in the Sahara to rural Alberta–the work has not thus far been taken to represent or constitute a coherent or interrelated field of study.  Nor is it, generally speaking, considered to be within the purview of Cuban or Cuban diasporic studies.  In this post, building on some of my published or in-press work, I want to propose that the lives and experiences of Cuban-educated students pose interesting and worthwhile challenges to the commonsense understanding of Cubanness.  Or more specifically, to hyphenated Cubanness, since Cuban-educated students do not generally claim to be “Cuban” so much as something else–Cuban-Saharan, Cuban-Ghanaian, Cuban-Sudanese, etc–and have commonly been motivated to neologize their own identities, as “Cuban-Jubans,” “ESBECANOS,” “Cubarauis,” or the like.  These are people from among the tens of thousands of African and international students who have spend a decade or more–often half their lives–living, studying, and working in Cuba.  Having arrived to Cuba as adolescents, and having been thrown wholesale into a new language, culture, and environment, arguably these students constitute a 1.5 generation, but in reverse, as immigrants to Cuba, not emigrants.  One of these small and dispersed groups, the Cuban-educated students of the Western Sahara, has become the subject of a series of documentary films.  Directed by Spaniards for particular audiences, as described by both Fiddian-Qasmiyeh and myself, despite their obvious ideological biases, I believe that these films are richly provocative to think with, for those of us interested in Cuban identity, diaspora, home, and belonging.  Here is the trailer for the most recent documentary, El Maestro Saharaui (2011), directed by Nicolás Muñoz:

Maestro Saharaui image

(Complete Spanish-language and English subtitled streaming versions of El Maestro Saharaui (Muñoz 2011) are available for a small fee HERE). 

Now known to themselves and their saharaui (Saharan) kin as “cubarawis” or “cubarauis,” online, on facebook, on twitter and elsewhere, these former students are the principle authors, bloggers, dancers and poets of their distinctive experience, as well as documentary subjects.  See, for instance, this blog http://elporvenirdelsahara.blogspot.com , and click here for some  “salsa saharaui.”

Of the other “cubaraui” documentaries, Las Cubarauis (Márquez 2005) is most difficult to obtain; a portion of the film is available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oadqsTU7xJA .  However, the full-length version of Caribeños del Sáhara (Pérez 2007),  is available at: http://vimeo.com/11813252. , and a shorter version, Caribeños del Desierto (Pérez and Galdeano 2008) is available at: http://video.google.es/videoplay?docid=7949630530407106225&hl=es.

 

In any case, although we have had so much spam that we were forced to deactivate comments some time ago, I would love to hear the thoughts of colleagues about these documentaries, about Cuban-educated students, or about the work outlined above.

 

Paul

 

Health Travels: Cuban Health(care) On and Off the Island, edited by Nancy J. Burke

daily life, Globalization, greater Cuba, Health, new book No Comments »

Edited by Nancy J. Burke and including contributions by many ethnographers and EC scholars, Health Travels: Cuban Health(care) On and Off the Island, UC Medical Humanities 2013, is now available for purchase or full-text download via this link.

From the publisher:

This collection of essays challenges static and binary discourses regarding the Cuban healthcare system, bringing together papers that paint a nuanced and dynamic picture of the intricacies of Cuban health(care) as it is represented and experienced both on the island and around the world. Health Travels is the first collection of its kind to map the recent history of the Cuban healthcare system in rich ethnographic detail. This collection of essays challenges static and binary discourses regarding the healthcare system, bringing together contributions that paint a picture of the nuanced and dynamic intricacies of Cuban health(care) as it is represented and experienced both on the island and around the world. In each instance, papers address macro-forces – national policies and global strategies – as well as micro-practices that at times counter, and at other times support, state-level programs. Exploring the praxis at the juncture of daily bodily practices and global representations this collection highlights how the Cuban state is instantiated in different contexts and for various purposes. Illuminating the complexity of the divide between the state and el pueblo, contributors to this volume highlight contradictions in daily living and the “success” of the Cuban health care system.

Paperback | 978-0-9889865-1-0 | Spring 2013 | 279 | 24.95

Mette Berg, Diasporic Generations: Memory, Politics, and Nation among Cubans in Spain

greater Cuba, new book 1 Comment »

It is a great pleasure to present Mette Berg’s new book, Diasporic Generations: Memory, Politics, and Nation (Berghan Books 2011) among Cubans in Spain.  Many of us know  Mette either personally or through her articles, and have found her particular ethnographic  focus–Cubans residing in Spain–to greatly enrich the conventional centering of the diaspora around Miami.

from the publisher’s website:

“Highlighting key generational differences, dynamics and trajectories, Mette Louise Berg’s work adds an exceptionally significant approach to studies on diasporas and transnational migration. Her case study of Cubans in Spain also interestingly reflects deep changes in Cuban society over a number of decades. By way of developing a more comprehensive understanding of these topics, this book is essential reading for students and advanced scholars alike.”  ·  Steve Vertovec, Max-Planck-Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity

Mette Louise Berg’s work is a productive, insightful, and timely intervention in the study of the Cuban diaspora and other contemporary transnational movements…an original and substantial contribution to the scholarly literature on migration.  ·  Jorge Duany, University of Puerto Rico

…well-written and intelligent, and deals with the Cuban diaspora in Spain, about which little is known. The author excellently locates her study within interesting general literature on memory, homelands, nationalism, and diasporas…it is superb.”  ·  Susan Eckstein, Boston University

Interpretations of the background to the Cuban diaspora – a political revolution and the subsequent radical transformation of the society and economy towards socialism – are politicised and highly contested. The Miami-based Cuban diaspora has had extraordinary success in putting its case high on the US political agenda and in capturing world media attention, but in the process the multiplicity of experiences within the diaspora has been overshadowed. This book gives voice to diasporic Cubans living in Spain, the former colonial ruler of Cuba. By focusing on their lived experiences of displacement, the book brings to light imaginative, narrative re-creations of the nation from afar. Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, the book argues that the Cuban diaspora in Spain consists of three diasporic generations, generated through distinct migratory experiences. This constitutes an important step forward in understanding the dynamics of memory-making and social differentiation within diasporas, and in appreciating why people within the same diaspora engage in different modes of transnational practices and homeland relations.

Mette Louise Berg is a lecturer in the anthropology of migration at the University of Oxford. Her research focuses on memory, diaspora, transnationalism and intergenerational dynamics.

Table of Contents after the jump:

Read the rest of this entry »

Chronicles of New York City Rumba (I)

By Berta Jottar, greater Cuba, music, traditions and folklore 10 Comments »

With this chronicle, EthnoCuba begins a new section, at the care of Berta Jottar, PhD

NYC: Sunday, February 13, 2011; 38 degrees, mostly cloudy.

Rumba is an Afro-Cuban performance culture characterized by its percussive music, dance and song; its main stylistic forms are the Columbia, the Yambú and the Guaguancó. Outside its native Cuba, New York City’s international metropolitan area is rumba’s second home with at least three rumbas open to the public every weekend.

This week, the rumba route begins on Friday, February 11th, at El Fogón Center for the Arts (point A on the map below); an alternative cultural center in the Bronx.

El Fogón’s rumba is ran by “Pupi” Felix Insua, former member of the mythical Cuban ensemble Yoruba Andabo, and current director of Oriki Omi Oddara. At El Fogón Victorian’ style room, the rumba has an international flair and is accompanied by good wine and friendly patrons. It is always a pleasure to see Pupi perform: he distills knowledge at both the kinesthetic and lyrical levels. El Fogón’s is not an open rumba, (a rumba where the amateur musician can seat and play the drum) but a rumba cerrá, a closed rumba where only those privileged musicians who know the rules of rumba and know that si no sabes, no te metas are allowed to participate. In Pupi’s rumba, you can hear the latest trends in rumba warapachanguera –the latest Havana style, both interpreted the Cuban way and recreated in pan Afro-Latino terms.

The Insua family, Pupi and his virtuoso songs (Stanley and Steve), share El Fogón’s stage mano a mano with local young New York City virtuosos, members of professional groups, like Caja Dura and Ilu Ayé, who are fluent not only in rumba, but in bomba and palo as well. Two new voices stand out: Yomara and Yadel; both young women who master the rumba columbia, the countryside style of Congo origin, rarely sung by women.

On Fridays, El Fogón becomes a rumba lab for hard-core rumber@s as well as for those wanting to learn. You know you are at a great rumba when you see Pupi tirar un pie… See the video below:

On Saturday, we continue our rumba journey to La Esquina Habanera in Union City, New Jersey (see point C on the map). Inaugurated by Tony Sequeira, a rafter who arrived to Union City with a vision and “plantó”; La Esquina is the corner where Afro-Cuban culture from both sides of the river meets. Read the rest of this entry »

Babalú Ayé in the Bronx

By Lisa Maya Knauer, greater Cuba, Religion 4 Comments »

The scene was pretty far removed from the tropical heat and crowds that marked my one trip to Rincon, outside Havana, on the pilgrimage for Babalu Aye in 1993. My journey on a freezing New York night, 17 years later (appropriate since Babalu Aye’s date is the 17th), took me through one of the many still-industrial zones of the Bronx, along the heavily potholed service road that tunnels underneath the Bruckner Expressway, turning onto Westchester Avenue, crowded with discount footwear stores, hair and nail salons and bodegas underneath the elevated train tracks, and then onto a small, nondescript street that veered off on an angle past a few more barely-solvent corner groceries. El Fogon, a newly established cultural center and bar in a section of the Bronx sorely lacking in such facilities, was sponsoring a “Feast Day for Babalu Aye” organized by well-known (at least in some circles) Cuban dance teacher and folkloric performer Felix “Pupy” Insua.

This in itself was not so unusual. The greater New York area is home to a large, well-established, multi-ethnic community of believers and practitioners of the religion known, variously, as santeria, regla de ocha, orisha religion and Yoruba religion. December is a busy month, since it encompasses the feast days for two much-venerated orishas, Chango and Babalu Aye. I have been interested in how the religion is celebrated outside of specifically ritual contexts — since New York is not only home to thousands of creyentes, but also several dozen folkloric performers who often stage shows or spectacles around the feast-days for Chango and Babalu Aye.

These events, in my view (I have attended several over the years) serve as kind of “hybrid ritual” or perhaps a form of “santeria lite”. While they are organized as performances (sometimes in explicitly theaterical settings like an auditorium at Hostos College) most of the performers are santeros/as and/or ritual performers. The
attendees include people who are new to the religion — they may be Cuban music aficionados or people who have taken a few Afrocuban dance classes — as well as santeros and santeras (both Cuban and non-Cuban) whose ritual kin networks are in Cuba, and who might not be tied into the networks of toques de santo, what one musician friend calls “the bembe circuit”. And so audiences usually include people “representing” the religion — resplendant in their white garments and elekes (beaded necklaces, each representing one of the orishas). They sing along, dance or gesture in place and frequently the performers (or whoever has arranged the show) will set up an altar in the lobby or entrance. Technically these are usually not “altars” in that there is no fundamento, no consecrated ritual object, but other than that, they look just like the altars people make in their homes or rented ritual facilities, complete with the appropriate flowers, candles, fruits, sweets, and so forth. In less formal settings (such as nightclubs or restaurants that don’t have fixed seating), the events are much more interactive, improvisatory and participatory, and often many of those in attendance will join in singing and dancing much as they would at a tambor (drum ceremony).

In last night’s celebration the boundaries were even blurrier…  (continue reading after the break below)

Read the rest of this entry »

Thomas Carter speaking at UC Riverside Tues, Nov. 2

By Paul Ryer, Calendar, Globalization, greater Cuba, Seminars & talks, Sport 2 Comments »

To Follow the Bouncing Ball – Transnational Ethnography and the Experiences of Cuban Transnational Sport Migration. Dr. Thomas F. Carter, Senior Lecturer University of Brighton.

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010. 5:00 – 7:00 pm. Department of Anthropology, University of California at Riverside. INTS 1113

Thomas Carter is Senior Lecturer in anthropology at the Chelsea School at the University of Brighton in Eastbourne, United Kingdom.  He was previously a Research Fellow in the School of Anthropological Studies at Queen’s University of Belfast.  He has written extensively on Cuba, sport and politics, including his ethnography, The Quality of Home Runs: The Passion, Politics and Language of Cuban Baseball (Duke University Press 2008) on the historical and current discourses of cubanidad embodied in the national sport of baseball.  His forthcoming book, In Foreign Fields, uses the politics and experiences of sport-related transnational labor migration to both critique globalization-based models explaining the movements of sport-related labor and call for greater anthropological attention to sport (Pluto 2011).

Anacaona’s Yolanda Castro and Graciela, RIP

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, By Berta Jottar, greater Cuba, music, obituary 5 Comments »

Within a couple of days, two lead members of the historical all-women Anacaona Orchestra have passed away: first Yolanda Castro, founding member of the band, who passed in Havana on April 4th, and then Graciela Pérez-Gutiérrez (also known as Graciela Grillo), two days later. Graciela had left Cuba in the early 40s and sang with Mario Bauza’s orchestra, becoming a fixture of the New York Latin music scene. Unlike Castro’s, Graciela’s obituary has been published all over the U.S. press, including the New York Times. You can read about Yolanda Castro’s passing on the Cuba-based Cubarte’s page.

Friend and colleague Berta Jottar interviewed Graciela in New York in 2003. along with her students of the course “Sound and Movement in the Afro-Latin Diaspora” (Williams College). I persuaded her to upload the videos and share them with us, and here they are:

(Thanks to Berta Jottar and David Cantrell for their assistance)

Oyotunji African Village, 1970-2010

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, greater Cuba, Religion 5 Comments »

Oyotunji African village is turning forty. At the height of the Pan-Africanist movement, Oyotunji was established as a kingdom in 27 acres of South Carolina soil to honor Yoruba traditions.

Oba Ernesto Pichardo has shared with us a historical picture of Oyotunji, In 1978, he initiated a series of trips to the village which culminated in a 1984 ceremony in which the land and the temple were consecrated to Babalú Ayé, an Orisha that was not present  in the village before.

See below an image documenting that first tambor to Babalú Ayé (with Oba Pichardo singing and Oyotunji’s King dancing).

Later in the 1990s, anthropologist Kamari Clarke, then a graduate student at UC-Santa Cruz (now a professor at Yale’s Dept. of Anthropology), conducted ethnographic research there for her doctoral dissertation. Her resulting book, Mapping Yoruba Networks: Power and Agency in the Making of Transnational Communities, was published by Duke University Press in 2004.

For a review of recent writings on Yoruba revivalism, you can download here on .pdf Kenneth Routon’s 2006 essay “Trance-Nationalism: Religious Imaginaries in the Black Atlantic” (Journal Identites 13, pp. 1-20).  The article includes a review of Kamari Clarke’s book, as well as James Lorand Matory’s Black Atlantic Religion, and Christine Ayorinde’s Afro-Cuban Religiosity.

© Ernesto Pichardo 1984

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)


Cuba and Miami: Religious Ties

By Paul Ryer, greater Cuba, Miami, new chapter/edited volume, Religion No Comments »

Stepick_LThe just-released book Churches and Carity in the Immigrant City: Religion, Immigration, and Civic Engagement in Miami, edited by Alex Stepick, Terry Rey, and Sarah J. Mahler.  Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, 2009, contains two articles pertaining to Cuba and its migrants: “Unidos en la Fe: Transnational Civic Social Engagement between Two Cuban Catholic Parishes” by Katrin Hansing, and “So Close and Yet So Far Away: Comparing Civic Social Capital in Two Cuban Congregations” by Sarah J. Mahler.

Ruth Behar’s An Island Called Home

greater Cuba, new book No Comments »

behar_l

Here is Ruth Behar’s recent book on Jewish Cuba.  If Ruth’s student Caroline Bettinger-López traced one site of Jewish-Cuban migration to Florida in Cuban-Jewish Journeys, in this richly photographed book Behar addresses the question of her own need to return repeatedly, and the life of the Jewish community in Cuba today, and the book takes us all over the island.  Despite her described back-and-forth travel, as I read the book it did not seem to describe a transnational circuit–that feels like an inadequate metaphor of stasis, closure, completion.  A transnational spiral, perhaps?

Anyway, anyone have links to reviews, etc?

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.
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