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Who was Maurice Halperin?

Anthropological institutions, By Paul Ryer, History Add comments

Robin Moore once suggested to me that a history of anthropology in Cuba–from its 19th century roots through the Revolution, as practiced by Cuban and international scholars alike–would be an extraordinary study, and I do see how this would be a fascinating, multi-faceted project.  In any case, one crucial moment for such a history is surely provided by the case of Oscar Lewis and his team of “anthropologists.”  I put “anthropologists” in quotes because whether or not they were spies, the Lewises were certainly more acting as oral historians than anthropologists in their Cuban project; methodologically their team was far, far from an ethnographic approach.

More recently, I came across this obscure article, by one Maurice Halperin, who apparently was a disaffected O.S.S. (i.e. C.I.A.) officer who lived and taught in Havana from 1962-1968, and who seemingly–as described in his article–had a personal role in the events surrounding the Oscar & Ruth Lewis affair.  Regardless of one’s read of that event, and despite the clear biases of the author (who seems so anti-revolutionary that one simply must wonder just how “disaffected” he really was with the U.S. intelligence apparatus even if he did teach at la Universidad de La Habana!) it might be interesting to add this perspective to the far more pro-Revolutionary voices of Douglas Butterworth and Ruth Lewis themselves.  But to give Halperin ANY credibility, I think we need to know more about his scholarship.  So, who was this Maurice Halperin?  Has anyone heard of him, or know Return to Havana or anything else he’s written?  What was his field?  What did he teach in Havana?  I know some of us have met Cubans who worked with the Lewises, have you ever meet anyone in Cuba who knew Halperin?

3 Responses to “Who was Maurice Halperin?”

  1. pryer Says:

    Following this up, I’ve just found a book titled: Cold War Exile: The Unclosed Case of Maurice Halperin (Hardcover)by Don S. Kirschner (Author). Perhaps this will clarify some of the questions raised…

  2. ariana Says:

    Paul, You might not have gotten my email. I subsequently bought his book “Return to Havana” on Vanderbilt University Press. It is about, hum, his return to Havana in the late seventies. He has several books on Fidel Castro.

  3. Doug Lindsay Says:

    I had the please of having Dr Maurice Halperin as a professor at Simon Fraser University. If nothing else he was clearly a walking history book about Castro and Cuba, especially the period just after the revolution!! Regardless of what Joseph McCarthy said about him, he had more knowledge about Cuba than anyone outside Cuba and he did not bluff when challenged in class.

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