Looking for the Caribbean in Buenos Aires

Jusino Diaz - Buenos Aires - GraffitiI’ve been in Buenos Aires for a few weeks, my trip was delayed because of the volcanic ash cloud that shut down most of the airports in the Río de la Plata region. I’m here researching cultural exchanges between the Caribbean and the Río de la Plata and so far, it’s been a very productive and surprising experience. I’ve been working closely with the wonderful faculty and staff at NYU Buenos Aires. The center’s director, Alvaro Fernández Bravo, has done extensive work on the concept of redes culturales (cultural webs) in Latin America. Our conversations, along with his suggestions of texts, have been instrumental in helping me begin to give this project shape. On his recommendation, I went to the Instituto de Literatura Hispanoamericana at the Universidad de Buenos Aires where I met with professors Elsa Noya andNoé Jitrik, both who work on Caribbean literature and culture.

Originally, I had planned to focus on the Caribbean roots of the Neobarroco in Argentina, specifically on the influence of Severo Sarduy on various Argentine writers but conversations with professors at the Universidad de Puerto Rico, before arriving in Buenos Aires, led me to an earlier connection between Cuba and Argentina. In 1946, Virgilio Piñera arrived in Buenos Aires for the first of three extended visits. His time here was extremely significant for various reasons, the most well-known being his participation in the translation committee of Ferdydurke, a novel by polish writer Witold Gombrowicz who took up residence in Buenos Aires during World War II. Their efforts to publish and promote Ferdydurke led them to meet and work with writers such as Ernesto Sábato and Macedonio Fernández. At the Instituto de Literatura Hispanoamericana, I have been working with materials that highlight these connections, the most interesting of these being the magazines Piñera published in, both in Buenos Aires and in Cuba.

Posted by Cristel M. Jusino Díaz — PhD Candidate in Spanish and Portuguese at NYU

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