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

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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:


Introduction: The Changing Contours of a Contested Island
Writing Cuba and Its Diaspora
Cubans in Spain
Post-colonial Subjects and Metropolitan Romance: Racialising Cubanness
Encounters in Cádiz
Outline of the Book

Chapter 1. Ethnography and the Politics of Fieldwork
Doing Research in a Politicised Field

Chapter 2. Diasporic Generations
Conceptualising Generation
Cuba’s Contested Past
Decolonisation, Independence and Spanish Migration to Cuba
From Republic to Revolution
The Creation of a Cuban Diaspora post-1959
Emigration from Cuba after 1959

Chapter 3. The Exiles: Bitterness and Nostalgia for a Lost Havana
The Centro Cubano, the Círculo Católico and the Peña: Geographies of Longing
Exilic Time-Spaces and Longing for Cuba
Isabel  and the Politicisation of Everyday Life
Fractured Families: Marianito
Ricardo: Conflicts Between New and Old Cuba
Sergio: ‘A Right-wing Dictatorship is not the Same as a Left-wing Dictatorship’

Chapter 4. The Children of the Revolution: Creating a Post-Cuban Space
Cuba’s Hombre Nuevo
Encuentro de la Cultura Cubana
On Labelling and Name Calling
Becaming and Feeling like a ‘Traidor’: Iván and Maida
Counter-Discourses of Cosmopolitanism

Chapter 5. The Migrants: Minimal Homelands
Marriage Migration
Commodified Cubanness
Lucy: ‘In Spain I Have More Freedom’
César and the Elusive Abundance of ‘El Capitalismo’
Oscar: ‘I Had to Start from Zero’
Puente Familiar con Cuba: a New Politics of Memory and Homeland
Mirta and the Ambiguities of Distance

Chapter 6. Gender, Diaspora, and the Body
Time-Spaces, Memory and Forgetting
The ‘Pain of Cuba’: Emotional Landscapes of Belonging
Temporal and Spatial Alienation
The ‘Fluids of Destiny:’ Beyond Trench Thinking
Life-stages and life-crises
Identity Discourses

Chapter 7. The Memory of Politics and the Politics of Memory 

Glossary of Spanish words
References cited

One Response to “Mette Berg, Diasporic Generations: Memory, Politics, and Nation among Cubans in Spain”

  1. pryer Says:

    To date, this seems to be available only in hardback; perhaps Mette can let us know if/when there are paperback or electronic options!

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