Cubans enjoyed a long weekend this past week in celebration of the national holiday, el Día de Rebeldía Nacional. The national holiday commemorates the anniversary of the attack on the Moncada Barracks led by Fidel Castro on July 26, 1953. The strategic plan to raid the barracks was foiled, and the surviving young rebel combatants were captured and punished by the Batista government. Fidel Castro was sent to prison, later to be tried in court, where he gave his famous speech History Will Absolve Me. The attempt to take the garrisons was a militaristic fracaso, but it brought Fidel Castro’s Movement— some of who would later become the guerrillas to fight in the Sierra Maestra— to the world’s attention. The national holiday serves as a day of remembrance for all the men who were willing to sacrifice their lives for “a better Cuba.” This year, I was fortunate enough to be in Cuba on the 60th anniversary of el Día de Rebeldía Nacional to watch the ceremony live on television.
A small business in Havana offering cell phone repair and other services
This summer I came to Cuba to research the emergence of non-institutional art spaces in the city of Havana. As I began to make contact with local artists to discuss where they create, show and sell their art, I quickly discovered that modes of communication had drastically changed since the last time I had studied abroad in Cuba in 2008.
Although cell phones continue to be expensive for the average Cuban, most independent artists that I have interviewed thus far use cell phones as their primary form of communication. And they are astonished when they find out that I do not have a working cell phone while I am in Cuba (My cell phone carrier does not use SIM cards, and American cell phone service does not work in Cuba). Over these last two weeks, even amidst research focused on art spaces, I have witnessed how the recent economic reforms have made significant strides to bring the informal market, including cell phones, back into the fold of the formal sector, in an effort to address the modern-day demands of the Cuban people. Continue reading
Plenary Session of the Revolution Recodified Conference
On Saturday and Sunday March 16-17, CLACS continued its partnership with the New School of Design to host the symposium, The Revolution Recodified: Digital Culture and the Public Sphere in Cuba. The two-day academic conference— kicked off by an energetic keynote on Friday by Cuban blogger, Yoani Sánchez— brought together academics from around the country, experts on the international blogosphere phenomena, and Cuban bloggers to explore the ways that digital technology is transforming Cuba’s cultural and political landscape. Despite the academic material presented, the conference drew an audience as diverse as its presenters. The attendees represented the many points along the political spectrum in terms of Cuban politics and history, and they engaged in a lively discussion about the current political climate on the island and questions of the future for US-Cuban relations. Continue reading
On Monday, February 25th, CLACS hosted its fourth lecture as part of the Spring 2013 colloquium series, “What’s Left of Cuba? Culture, Politics, and Civil Society.” The lecture, entitled “The Cuban
Argument With Itself,” was given by Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas, a Cuban-American playwright and director best known for his play, Blind Mouth Singing, which
was translated and produced in Havana, Cuba in 2010. Cortiñas is the first Cuban-American playwright to be produced in Cuba. Continue reading
Coco Fusco on “The Symbolic Use of the Plaza of the Revolution by Cuban Artists and Activists”
Coco Fusco, Director of Intermedia Initiatives at Parsons Center at The New School for Design, and a well-known New York-based interdisciplinary artist, performer, and writer, visited us here at CLACS on Monday, February 4, to present a lecture entitled “The Symbolic Use of the Plaza of the Revolution by Cuban Artists and Activists” and her latest video La Plaza Vacia as a part of CLACS’ Spring 2013 colloquium series titled, What’s Left of Cuba? Culture, Politics, and Civil Society. Continue reading