Description of Courses offered by CASA 

Cuban Public Health: Past and Present

Professor

Dr. Enrique Beldarraín Chaple, M.D., Ph.D., is chief of the research department at the Centro Nacional de Información de Ciencias Médicas, and full professor and researcher in the history of public health at the University of Havana Medical School. Dr. Beldarraí­n Chaple has published five books and 46 articles about the history of medicine and epidemics in Cuba.

Course Description

In the decades since the success of the 1959 Cuban Revolution, the tiny island has gained a global reputation for its pioneering health system. Although Cuba´s GDP is only a fraction of its northern neighbors, the island boasts a lower infant mortality rate than the U.S., and has among the highest life expectancies and doctor-patient ratios in the world. In recent years, Cuba´s ¨medical internationalists¨ medical workers sent overseas to help shore up other countries´ health systems or combat new disease outbreaks have also gained widespread acclaim. What factors account for the seemingly outsized importance of medicine and public health under the Cuban Revolution? What can the study of public health and medicine tell us about broader themes in Cuban history?

The Cuban Public Health course is designed to introduce students to the history of public health and medicine in Cuba. Taking a long historical approach, this course explores both the development of medicine in colonial and early post-independence Cuba as well as recent innovations in Cuban medical care and public health systems. Some topics that students will explore include: the relationship between slavery and medicine in colonial Cuba; the nationalist politics of health in republican and revolutionary Cuba; popular medicine and its relationship to biomedical ideas; and Cuba’s controversial yet successful fight against HIV/AIDS.

Gender, Race and Inequalities In Cuba: Visions From Cuban Scholars

Professor

Dr. Marta Núñez Sarmiento is a professor of sociology and a researcher at the Center for Studies of International Migrations (CEMI) at the University of Havana. Her research has concentrated on transition projects for Cuba; women and employment in Cuba; gender studies in Cuba, images of women in Cuban and foreign mass media. At the University of Havana, she teaches courses related to methodology and methods of sociological research, gender studies and contemporary Cuba. She has served as a consultant for several agencies of the United Nations (1988-2003), for the Association of Caribbean States (1999) and for several NGOs. She is one of the founders of the Cuban Federation of Women.

Course Description

For more than half a century scholars, journalists and artists from all over the world including from the United States have explored Cuba intensely; their visions have been widely spread by the mainstream media. The works by Cuban social scientists living on the island have been scarcely published outside the island Cuba even though they produced their studies while experiencing and being part of the transformations that started in 1959.

This program discusses recent studies produced by Cuban scholars on three of the most relevant challenges to eliminate discrimination in society: gender, race, and social inequalities. Although the works refer to historical events explaining the evolution of the present situation in each of these topics, they will basically focus on case studies elaborated since the crisis and reforms of the 90´s in Cuba following the disappearance of the Soviet Union and the Eastern European socialist countries as well as the strengthening of the US embargo/blockade on Cuba. The course will be co-taught by Professor Roberto Zurbano (racial inequalities) and Professor Lily Núñez (social inequalities).

The Imagined Island: Cuban Cinema

Professor

Professor Gustavo Arcos is a cinema critic and professor at the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA). He studied Art History at the University of Havana. He is member of the Association of Cuban Artists and Writers (UNEAC) and the Cuban Association of the Cinematographic Press. He worked as a film cameraman assistant in the Movie Studio of the Armed Forces from 1983 to 1986. He studied at the State Film Institute of Moscow (19861989). From 1994 on, he has been an active film critic and journalist in different radio and TV stations of the capital city of the country. He is an assistant professor now. He has given lectures, workshops of creation, and academic tutorage in post graduate courses for university students, experts, and professionals from different countries, including the United States, France, Brazil, Norway, Spain, and Germany.

Course Description

In 1959, following the revolutionary victory, the Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC) was established to oversee a vast array of cultural projects and related work, and well into the 1990s, it continued to oversee nearly all of the country’s film production. With new technologies emerging in Cuba, through digital media and two new schools of cinema and television, productions have been and will continue to become more diversified, as the ICAIC previously controlled all productions. In the last two decades, new generations of filmmakers and audiovisual artists have been emerging who intend to tell stories from a more independent lens.
This course uses film as a way to understand Cuba through its own images. We will verify how the artistic discourse of filmmakers interprets, legitimizes, dialogues or generates conflict with the official discourse. Students will learn about aesthetic values, formal and artistic, as proposed by Cuba’s filmmakers in recent decades. This course will also aim to stimulate creativity between the students, encouraging student discussions based on their own experiences during their time in Cuba.

Slavery: Manifestations of Its Legacy In Contemporary Cuban Society

Professor

Professor Bárbara Danzie León is a history researcher and specialist in resources on the African presence and lecturer of the Instituto Superior de Ciencias Aplicadas del Ministerio de Ciencia Tecnología y Medio Ambiente. Three additional professors are invited to guest lecture the course as well.

Course Description

The enslavement of Africans and their forced arrival in Cuba from the 16th to 19th centuries is an important axis around which a significant part of the history of Cuba moves. This course proposes to address, from an interdisciplinary perspective, the African influence and contribution to the shape of Cuba’s nationality, where they are recognized as members of an important part of the values with which Cubans identify themselves. The multiethnic and multiracial state of the country is based on Cuba’s historical memory and diverse contemporary expressions. In the same way, the course will also distinguish the implications of the period of discriminatory and racist ideology based on skin color. Many times this is and has been expressed unconsciously and through colonial systems of marginalization, through which slavery came about.

Identity and Nation in Cuba: Current Challenges

Professor

Dr. Ivette Garcí­a is a full professor at the Center for Advanced Studies Fernando Ortíz, at the History and Philosophy Division, University of Havana. She presides the Historians´ Division of Cuba´s Union of Writers and Artists, UNEAC and is a member of the Cuban Academy for History. Dr. Ivette Garcí­a has previously taught at the Higher Institute for International Relations (ISRI), the Institute for Cuban History and the Cuban Institute for Anthropology. Prof. García has previously worked in diplomatic missions for Cuba in Europe. Professor Garcí­a is also a consultant for academic programs in Central America.

Course Description

The course examines the moments in the history of Cuba that have been key to its national and cultural formation, focusing on the most important aspects of its history, including its social composition, architecture, religion and popular traditions. The concepts of nation and culture, and the country’s notions of identity, Cubanidad, idiosyncrasies and Cuban identity will be reviewed by the instructors from a variety of perspectives. Beginning with a review of the principal events of the colonial and republican periods and leading up to the Revolution, the course will focus on those elements that have come to define contemporary Cuba, including its economic development, international relations, social changes and generational conflicts, religion, ethnicity, history of ideas racial relations, music and dance. As a complement to the lectures, students will read a variety of carefully selected Spanish texts, observe audiovisual offerings, observe “in situ” locations of historical and patrimonial importance, visit museums and other cultural institutions and exchange ideas with specialists on these topics. Two additional professors, Lativia Gaspe (Cuba´s Institute of History- IHC) and a specialist from the Anthropological Institute will co-teach the course.

US-Cuban Relations: A Debate

Professors

In Fall 2017, this course will be taught by Rafael Hernández, a Political Scientist and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed Havana-based journal Temas. In Spring 2018, this course will be taught by Dr. Jorge Mario Sánchez Egozcue, Professor of International Economics at the Cuban Center of Research of the International Economy (CIEI).

Course Description

This seminar will discuss the complexities of the U.S.-Cuba conflict, a case-study at the crossroads of North-South and East-West tensions, focusing on its most recent developments since the Cold War to the present, on domestic and multilateral interactions, national interests and international actors, as well as points of convergence and clash in the bilateral, regional and extra-hemispheric arenas. This conflict is explored as an intermestic relationship, considering the roles played by both countries in each other’s internal affairs. The seminar will emphasize the case of US-Cuba relations as a paradigm to understand nationalism and imperialism, the limits of US power and the dynamics of Third World revolutions. It focuses in depth on the major themes that have shaped current U.S.-Cuban relations, their different political values and national interests, ideological and cultural representations, and their current meanings; but also its “ties of singular intimacy”, cultural affinities, mutual images and civic cultures. This special relationship offers a case-study to discuss how a conflict matrix also involves instances of cooperation, actual and potential, where creative policies may thrive, and develop the current process of normalization, with all its complexities and perspectives.

FALL 2017: 21st Century Cuban and Latina American Literatures

Professor

Susana Haug is Professor of Literature, Faculty of Arts and Letters, University of Havana. She is the recipient of a number of important literary awards and her work has been included in diverse anthologies of contemporary literature in Cuba, Spain, Brazil and Mexico. She contributes frequently to Cuban and foreign journals and magazines and her work has been translated into Italian, French and Portuguese.

Course Description

The Latin American ¨boom¨ resulted in an unprecedented revolution in Spanish language literature. The eyes of the world turned to a production of novels and stories by a group of authors who began publishing in the 1960s and constituted (and may continue to constitute) the literary version of ¨Greenwich mean time.¨ In this course, we will explore the directions taken by Latin American literature after the boom and focus on the literary production of younger authors, particularly those who began publishing in the 21st century. We will explore their many themes, esthetics, continuities and disruptions.

SPRING 2018: Travel Literature and the Production of Cuban History

Professor

Dr. Alex Sotelo Eastman is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Society of Fellows at Dartmouth College where he teaches with Latin, American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies and African and African American Studies. His research focuses on race, emancipatory politics, popular culture and tourism across the Americas. Sotelo Eastman has published articles on the black press, abolitionism, immigration and tourism in journals such as the Afro-Hispanic Review, Bulletin of Spanish Studies, Siglo diecinueve and Studies in Latin American Popular Culture. He is the editor of The Critical Surf Studies Reader (Duke University Press, 2017), an interdisciplinary volume about the history and development of surfing as indigenous practice, subcultural movement and neoliberal industry.

Course Description

People have been traveling to Cuba for centuries. In this course we will examine the impulses and circumstances that have moved people to explore and write about this region and consider the impacts these travels and writings have had on the production of Cuban history. Travel is at the center of a vast and diverse literature in and about Cuba, from the moment of colonial encounter and the Atlantic slave trade through attempts at annexation and the Cuban Revolution up to the Special Period and the era of people-to-people tourism and study abroad programs. In our consideration of myriad travelers, soldiers, students, merchants, journalists, migrant workers, diplomats, artists and tourists, we will question the conceptual limits of the ¨traveler¨, who claims to, or is forced to, speak from an outsider perspective. These subjects cross borders marked by race, gender, nation, politics and of course geography, all of which play a role in distinguishing between inside and outside, native and foreign. In approaching travel writing from an interdisciplinary and transnational perspective we question the historical uses and credibility of first-hand accounts, the overlap of literature and history and the boundaries between collective history and personal memory.