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“Transnational Pilgrim,” José Bedia exhibit at the Fowler, UCLA

art, Calendar, Images No Comments »

Although we do not typically focus on the fine arts in the strict sense of the term, for those interested in–or struck by–boundary-crossing cultural productions, the work of Cuban and Cuban-American artists such as José Bedia may well be particularly compelling, and if you happen to be in the Los Angeles area this fall, this is an exhibition to investigate.  Opening Sept. 17th at the Fowler Museum with a conversation between Bedia and curators Judith Bettelheim and Janet Catherine Berlo, the exhibition will be on display from Sept. 18 through Jan. 8, 2012.  Here are two examples of Bedia’s work, courtesy of the Fowler Museum.  Above:  Pájaro que busca otro horizonte (The Bird Who Seeks Another Land), 1998, Acrylic on canvas, 231 x 414 cm, Berezdivin Collection, San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Below: Piango piango llega lejos (Step by Step You Can Go Far), 2000, Acrylic stain and oil pastel on canvas, Diam.: 245.4 cm, Collection of the Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ackland Fund, Photograph courtesy of Galeria Ramis Barquet, New York:

The Plane Crash and Cuba’s Local Journalism

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, Images, media, News and Views 4 Comments »

My FBfr Tersites D. called our attention to the Granma paper’s front page, the morning after the plane crash of the Santiago-Havana AeroCaribbean flight that killed sixty-eight people. Where is the news?  This was one more instance of the Communist Party’s opacity. It is well known that rarely a news brief on someone’s death will detail the actual cause (e.g. dying after “a long and troublesome illness” is typically an euphemism for cancer). But this seems to top it all, and Tersites’ FBfrs rightfully shook their heads. The callousness of reducing such a catastrophe into an administrative technicality, removing any hint of human emotion, caused not so much surprise as sorrow; and sorrow not only for the victims of the plane but also for those of the paper (its readers).

Contrast that with the local Escambray paper of Sancti Spirtius, the nearest city to the crash. Like the Granma, it is also the voice of the Communist Party, but at the provincial level. Escambray was the first to twitter the news; by 9pm Eastern the bare information about the crash of the Santiago-Havana airliner had made it around the Twitter-world. Very soon after, the newspaper’s webpage begun to offer news as they trickled in.  Local papers of this kind typically carry local news that do not make it to the Granma, but their tone and approach is pretty much the same. In this case, the difference is dramatic, and it is not only a matter of aesthetics, which differentiate these two publications like night and day. While the national paper does not even include the news as news, Escambray paper gives it all, offering all available details, including graphic images occupying several pages.

That the Granma buries its head in the sand is not news. It is the voice of the bureaucracy, always removed from every day life. Its place seems to have been taken up by Cubadebate, which did keep web readers (therefore few Cubans) informed. The good news is that there is local reporting. That despite the crisis of journalism, particularly in printed form, this local paper, Escambray, displays a reporting that values “being there,” conveying to readers what is happening as is happening.

UPDATE (Nov. 8): For a very well narrated and very emotional account of what area residents heard and saw, including details about the activities in which various people were engaged in that very same moment and what they did immediately after, see today’s article in Escambray, “La Noche que Lloró Mayábuna,” which includes photos.

A U.S. racial view of Cubans at the turn of the 20th cent.

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, History, Images, Race No Comments »

Duke University Library’s digital collections includes a visual archive on the Emergence of Advertising in America, 1850-1920

Among the various card series that were included in Duke’s cigarettes at that time, there is one on “coins of all nations” that includes one on Cuba.  It is not dated, but it is probably pre-independence (the coin is described as being from Spain in circulation in Cuba), which means the cards are from some time between 1872 (beginning of the collection) and 1898. It is interesting that in contrast with Vera Kutzinski’s description of the young and sensual mulatta figure as typical of Cuban cigar images, the woman here presented as Cuban in U.S. tobacco is black and old…



Images courtesy of Duke University’s Library and the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising and Marketing History. These images in particular can be found HERE.

Los Rumbos de la Rumba

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, Cultural production, Images, Religion No Comments »


Berta Jottar’s (Williams College, Latino Studies) newly released CD-Rom “Los Rumbos de la Rumba” has been followed by rave reviews in the specialized press and has been selected as editor’s pick in the prestigious Descarga website:

The Routes of Rumba stand out from the rest is that it is a “concept album” that takes the listener through the entire rumba experience, from the emotional to the physical, from the sacred to the profane. (…) Berta Jottar, PhD. Dr. Jottar, who is a professor of Latino/a Studies at Williams College, asked Pedrito and Román to interpret rumba’s deep conceptual elements, tracing an arc from Africa to Havana to NYC and beyond, with each track clearly dedicated to different “psychic spaces” in the Diaspora.

I recommend you browse through the CD’s official website, as well as through Berta’s interactive webpage on rumba.

Berta’s latest article on the rumba guarapachanguera in Central Park was published last summer in the Latin American Music Review. The complete citation is:
The Acoustic Body: Rumba Guarapachanguera and Abakuá Sociality in Central Park
Latin American Music Review – Volume 30, Number 1, Spring/Summer 2009, pp. 1-24

Last time AAA was in Philadelphia…

Conferences & CFPs, Images 3 Comments »



AAA double session on ethnography of Cuba, circa 1998!

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