Cuba as Dreamworld and Catastrophe

This Hot Spots series attempts to interrogate how Cuba is interpellated by diverse audiences to think with and about the complexities and paradoxes of everyday, textured accounts of life in opposition to, in the shadows of, or at the vanguard of living la Revolución at this historical juncture in U.S.–Cuba relations. The series is broadly tied together under the rubric of Cuba as dreamworld and catastrophe, in a nod to the work of Susan Buck-Morss. For Morss (2000, x), “Mass utopia, once considered the logical correlate of personal utopia, is now a rusty idea.” The utopic dreams of the twentieth century, articulated across a diverse political spectrum of regimes, be they capitalist or European socialist, have repeatedly turned into nightmares. How, then, should we approach an examination of Cuba, an actually existing socialist state persisting long after the disintegration of European socialism, at the brink of supposedly momentous change? How do we make sense of and interpret the vexing realities of determination, nostalgia, hope, loss, bewilderment, and promise? Must utopic dreams always turn to nightmares?


Buck-Morss, Susan. 2000. Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Posts in This Series

Introduction: Cuba as Dreamworld and Catastrophe

Wanting to Be More than an Anthropologist in Cuba

Race in the Cuban Revolution: “¿Y mi Cuba negra?”

On Beans, Rabbits, and Cows: Food for Thought on New Cuba–U.S. Relations

One Currency

Prenatal Health in Cuba: What’s in a Number?

Utopia in a Package? Digital Media Piracy and the Politics of Entertainment in Cuba

“There is no food”: Coping with Food Scarcity in Cuba Today

Miami Minstrels: A Farewell to the Cuban Nation

Cuban Connectivity: Cuba Enters the Digital Age

Funding Affected Populations in Cuba’s Campaign against HIV/AIDS