Symposium: ‘Cubans in movement’, at NYU

CUBANS IN MOVEMENT: Toward a New Civil Society

Organized by Antonio José Ponte (Holder of the Andrés Bello Chair of Latin American Culture and Civilization at the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center at NYU for Fall 2013, and Deputy Editor of Diario de Cuba)

Thursday November 7th

6:30 pm Introduction
Antonio José Ponte

6:50 pm Panel I: “Historia Crítica, Justicia Social y Ciudadanía Ambiental”
Rafael Rojas (CIDE, México D.F.; Princeton University), “Caminos de la historia crítica”

Armando Chaguaceda (Instituto de Investigaciones Histórico Sociales de la Universidad Veracruzana), “Cuba: justicia social y ciudadanía en tiempos de reforma”

Johanna Cilano Pélaez (Escuela de Derecho, Universidad de Xalapa), “El ejercicio de la ciudadanía ambiental en Cuba: legados y desafíos de la experiencia cubana”

Moderator: Ada Ferrer (NYU)

IN SPANISH
Followed by reception

Friday November 8th

10:30 am Panel II: “Nation, Revolution, New Media and Literature”
Walfrido Dorta (Graduate Center, CUNY), “(Un)common Paths and Useless Energies: about Some Recent Cuban Writings”

Lizabel Mónica (Princeton University), “How New Media (Un)Shapes Contemporary (Cuban) Literature”

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo (Writer), “Is Literature Possible After the Cuban Revolution?”

Moderator: Jacqueline Loss (University of Connecticut)
IN ENGLISH

12.30 pm Lunch

2:00 pm Panel III: “Music, Cinema, Literature and Politics”
Nora Gámez Torres (Cuban Research Institute at FIU, Miami), “Music and Politics in Contemporary Cuba”

Manuel Zayas (Filmmaker), “The Institutional Crisis of Cuban Cinema: Independents Are Back”

Esther Whitfield (Brown University), “Guantanamo’s Cuban border: Art, Literature and the Naval Base”

Moderator: Ana Dopico (NYU)
IN ENGLISH

4:00 pm Coffee

4:15 pm Panel IV: “Diversidad cultural y domesticación política”
Abel Sierra Madero (Center for Latin American Studies, University of Miami), “Del hombre nuevo al travestismo de Estado. El discurso de la diversidad como retórica de transición en la Cuba postsocialista”

Roberto Zurbano (Articulación Regional Afrodescendiente para las Americas y el Caribe; Casa de las Américas), “Se acabó el querer: Los negros y el debate racial en la esfera pública cubana”

Moderador: Antonio José Ponte
IN SPANISH
Followed by reception

All events take place in the first‐floor auditorium of NYU’s King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, at 53 Washington Square South, New York. Symposium is free and open to the public.

Rafael Rojas, “Caminos de la historia crítica”
Un análisis de diferentes maneras de elusión o interpelación de las tramas centrales de la historia oficial cubana, que pueden observarse en la producción académica más reciente de la isla y la diáspora. La crítica del discurso histórico de legitimación del socialismo cubano ha experimentado en los últimos años una importante reproducción, que ya es documentable y analizable como un corpus historiográfico propio. Esta intervención se propone reseñar algunas de esas críticas, con el propósito de describir el debate político que subyace a la discusión historiográfica.

Armando Chaguaceda, “Cuba: justicia social y ciudadanía en tiempos de reforma”
A partir del impacto combinado de la crisis socioeconómica de los últimos veintitrés años y las transformaciones en las políticas sociales desarrolladas al calor de las actuales reformas, se explora el fenómeno de la justicia social en su relación con el estado de la ciudadanía —en tanto fenómeno sociopolítico y jurídico—instaurado bajo el régimen vigente.

Johanna Cilano Pélaez, “El ejercicio de la ciudadanía ambiental en Cuba: legados y desafíos de la experiencia cubana”
Un análisis del fenómeno de la construcción de una ciudadanía ambiental y el rol de las organizaciones de la sociedad civil cubana que desarrollan una labor ambiental. Alcances y límites del asociacionismo civil en el contexto cubano, participación ciudadana, desarrollo y autonomía.

Walfrido Dorta, “(Un)common Paths and Useless Energies: about Some Recent Cuban Writings”
Some recent writings in the panorama of Cuban literature face a repertoire of discourses saturated with comments about Cuba and about its national “reality”. An analysis about how these writings deal with forgetting this paradigm of representation and this source of legitimacy. The works of Jorge Enrique Lage, Osdany Morales, Jamila Medina, Legna Rodríguez, among others, get rid of the capital of “the Cubaness”, and they become “machines” that produce narratives without an obvious purpose. Relationship between the figures of the (un)translatability in these writings and the demands posed by labels such as postnational, postrevolutionary, transnational or cosmopolitan literature.

Lizabel Mónica, “How New Media (Un)Shapes Contemporary (Cuban) Literature”
Although the presence of new media within the island is rather limited, the literary field in Cuba cannot be fully understood without taking into account the circulation of digital material among writers and scholars. Since the end of the nineties, people in the island are receiving, editing and redistributing large amounts of digital content. For most, this is not just a new archive of cultural references, but also a new/alternative medium in itself. The virtual flow connects outside and inside, popular culture and academic knowledge, official news and personal reports. How this circulation is affecting the way we think about literature and the role of the writer in a landscape of globalization and radical national changes? Is Cuban literature itself, as a conceptual corpus, being (un)shaped by these archives?

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, “Is It Possible Literature After the Cuban Revolution?”
Short‐circuits between writing and politics. Straitjacket between “fiction of the writer” versus “fiction of the State”. Is there anyone left writing in Cuba today? Self‐censorship as the measure of all things, says the author (to narrate at sea). Culture is the first that must be saved, says the authority (every Cuban should know how to narrate, and to narrate well). Amnesia versus omniscience. We Cuban narrators suffer from an excess of self‐preservation instinct. Will it be possible to create credible consensus in Cuba after a half century of totalitarianism? Is it possible to read literature after the Literacy Campaign? Once dumb or dead our Maximum Narrator, will there be a Cuban literature after the Revolution?

Nora Gámez Torres, “Music and Politics in Contemporary Cuba”
Given the relative isolation of the oppositional movement in Cuba, the tight control over the media and the wide circulation of music through independent networks, could music become a more effective arena for political practice? Concrete examples from a variety of music genres show how the cultural public sphere informed by popular music in the last two decades has challenged moral and political boundaries and “rehearsed” identities, stances, and social relations not yet permissible in politics. Moreover, music has become a public scenario for opposition and dissent and a concrete social site that stands as a form of politics itself in contemporary Cuba.

Manuel Zayas, “The Institutional Crisis of Cuban Cinema: Independents Are Back”
For the first time, Cuban independent filmmakers start to lead film production in the island, facing an obsolete Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC) and an institutional crisis that had knocked on the doors of the renowned International Film School (EICTV) of San Antonio de los Baños, and the Foundation of New Latin American Cinema, headed by Gabriel García Márquez.

Esther Whitfield, “Guantanamo’s Cuban border: Art, Literature and the Naval Base”
The base’s ambiguous legal status and indefinite lease lent themselves particularly well to the rhetorically nebulous and potentially endless “War on Terror”, and the Castro brothers’ anti‐imperialist rhetoric has since the early 1960s targeted the U.S. occupation of Guantánamo. Nevertheless, literary and artistic production in and around the naval base offers a counterpoint to the languages of war that have converged there. Marc Falkoff’s Poems from Guantánamo (2007), an edited collection of poetry by detainees brought to Guantánamo from battlegrounds in Afghanistan, includes expressions of solidarity with the Cuban people that undermine the hostility that has defined the base from both sides of its border. Similarly, fiction, poetry and visual arts recently produced in the Cuban province of Guantánamo —particularly El camino de la estrategia, and ongoing multi‐media project by Caimanera‐based artists Alexander Beatón and Pedro Gutiérrez— weigh the influence on local life of the base’s fame as a site of detention and torture, countering the belligerent rhetoric of political leaders.

Abel Sierra Madero, “Del hombre nuevo al travestismo de Estado. El discurso de la diversidad como retórica de transición en la Cuba postsocialista”
Un análisis de como el Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual (CENESEX) utiliza el discurso sobre la diversidad sexual como retórica de transición, una suerte de ajuste político y discursivo al escenario post‐socialista traído por las reformas de Raúl Castro. El rol del CENESEX en la reconstrucción del pasado de la Revolución y en los escamoteos de la memoria histórica. Este panorama constituye lo que pudiera denominarse “travestismo de Estado”, que contribuye a frenar la aparición de un genuino movimiento de activistas por los derechos sexuales. Este “travestismo de Estado” procura reconstruir la legitimación del Estado cubano a la vez que garantiza una domesticación de la política y el control de las identidades sexuales y sociales.

Roberto Zurbano, “‘Se acabó el querer’: Los negros y el debate racial en la esfera pública cubana”
El negro en Cuba, como sujeto y como grupo social ha encontrado en los ultimos lustros una visibilidad en la Academia, la Política y el Mercado que suele sorprender, molestar e interesar a muchos. Diversidad de discursos, organizaciones, agendas antirracistas y ciudadanas, espacios digitales y debates públicos se suceden en la ultima década. Tendencias, conflictos y aspiraciones que comienzan a perfilarse en una lucha contra el creciente neoracismo y por la construccion de una ciudadanía.

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