Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute

Tulane University

Talk by LAL Greenleaf Fellow Alfredo Prieto

April 16th, 2010

Location
LAL seminar room
4th floor, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library
Tulane University

Latin American Library Greenleaf Fellow Alfredo Prieto’s talk is titled “El otro: Visiones sobre la cultura cubana en los Estados Unidos” and will be in Spanish.

Light refreshments will be served.

Alfredo Prieto has a distinguished career in the field of communications, media and publishing, and has written widely on the perception of Cuba in the United States as reflected in literature and the social sciences. In Havana he has occupied key posts on the staff of journals such as Caminos, Cultura y Desarrollo, and Cuadernos de Nuestra América. Since 1997 he is the editor-in-chief of Revista Temas; he is also Assistant Director of Ediciones Unión, the publishing house of the Cuban Association of Artists and Writers (UNEAC), and is a regular columnist for several digital newspapers such as 7 Días (Dominican Republic) and Havana Times. He currently teaches at the University of Havana at the Center for Hemispheric and United States Studies, and is completing a Master’s degree in Literature and Sociology at the same university. Lic. Prieto has been described as arguably the most knowledgeable Cuban scholar living in Cuba specializing in the culture of the Cuban diaspora.

Synopsis

El otro: Visiones sobre la cultura cubana en los Estados Unidos

Aquí presentaré la imagen de Cuba, los cubanos y su cultura en la literatura de viajes norteamericana de la última década. Intento develar, y en lo posible deconstruir, las mediaciones que intervienen en la percepción de “la otredad” por parte del viajero norteamericano, los estereotipos actuantes, y explicarlos considerando la existencia de factores como el etnocentrismo, la latinidad, las diferencias axiológicas, de lengua y, en última instancia, de culturas distintas.

Coexistiendo, alternando con las visiones tradicionales del discurso político y mediático sobre el sistema cubano de los años 90 a hoy se ha venido produciendo en los Estados Unidos una (re)composición de la imagen de Cuba que se afinca en un sedimento cultural y en una persistencia de la memoria para nada corroídos por el tiempo. Sus ángulos más reiterados remiten a una isla elusiva borrada del mapa cultural durante la Guerra Fría, pero en definitiva ahora (re)descubierta en sus atributos aludidamente totalizadores y esencialistas: el placer mundano, la música y la cuestión sexual. Esta perspectiva, que omite un cambio cultural y social de más de cincuenta años, no suele matizarse o modificarse mayormente después del contacto directo de muchos norteamericanos con la isla.

La literatura de estos viajes que circula profusamente en los distintos circuitos—desde librerías públicas y bibliotecas universitarias hasta Amazon.com— da abrumadora fe de ello. Tal vez la principal continuidad de este corpus narrativo con su homólogo del siglo xix consista en su etnocentrismo, pero otras determinaciones pueden ser añadidas: la dependencia de fuentes que se reciclan a sí mismas, las diferencias de idioma, así como los estereotipos largamente construidos por la cultura norteamericana al mirar a Cuba y lo cubano —de Weekend in Havana a I Love Lucy. Esto constituye un lastre del que resulta muy difícil desprenderse, que da a menudo pie a la idea de que la visión de la cultura cubana en los Estados Unidos parecería condenada a la repetición.

This event is made possible through a generous endowment by Tulane emeritus professor Richard E. Greenleaf to the Latin American Library.

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