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
In June 2002, Fidel Castro briefly collapsed while giving an address on the campaign to constitutionally declare that “Cuba is and will always be a socialist st... More
Wanting to Be More than an Anthropologist in Cuba
In 1991, I decided that Cuba had to be a part of my life again. I had returned once in 1979 as a student, and in the 1990s I began to go to Cuba two or three ti... More
Race in the Cuban Revolution: “¿Y mi Cuba Negra?”
Accusations of ongoing racism within the Cuban Revolution are nothing new, although until recently the most vocal critiques came from outside (and often against... More
On Beans, Rabbits, and Cows: Food for Thought on New Cuba–U.S. Relations
A 2014 cartoon published at the Daily Signal with the title “Barack and the Beanstalk” shows a naïve President Obama excitedly telling a compatriot, “Look! I tr... More
S. and I are talking at his house in Havana. I am staging a trip to a town where I am doing fieldwork for a book about African-inspired religion. I need a cell ... More
Prenatal Health in Cuba: What’s in a Number?
In 2015, an opinion piece in the Huffington Post asked what we can learn from Cuba. The author, a doctor, noted that Cuba’s infant mortality rate (4.7 deaths pe... More
Utopia in a Package? Digital Media Piracy and the Politics of Entertainment in Cuba
One hot Havana evening in August 2014, some young Cuban filmmaker friends of mine and I waited to place an order at a pizzeria. Much to my annoyance, the cafete... More
“There is No Food”: Coping with Food Scarcity in Cuba Today
The socialist food-rationing system in Cuba has recently undergone significant changes. Reductions in the amount of rationed foods at state-subsidized prices me... More
Miami Minstrels: A Farewell to the Cuban Nation
In Cuban Miami, someone flipping through the Spanish-language TV channels might come across blackface comedy. While in the United States blackface carries the b... More
Cuban Connectivity: Cuba Enters the Digital Age
Over the last two years, since then-President Barack Obama announced a normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States, there has been much discus... More
Funding Affected Populations in Cuba’s Campaign against HIV/AIDS
⇢ Con traducción al español The sun beat down on the streets of Centro Havana as guests gathered under the colorful lights of a gay club. They were dressed in t... More