This course proposes an interdisciplinary approach that critically engages a range of frameworks (geopolitical, historical, cultural) for a study of the complex and contested reality of Cuba. Displacing images of Cuba circulating in US popular and official culture, we examine the constructions of race, gender, and sexuality that have defined the Cuban nation. We propose to locate Cuba as part of the Caribbean (with its history of plantation economies and slavery), as part of Latin America (linked by a shared history of Spanish conquest, problematic republicanism and revolutionary movements), and as part of the African diaspora. We will explore how Cuba can be understood in relation to the U.S., and to its own diasporas in Miami and elsewhere. The course will engage with primary texts, historiography, literature, film, and music to examine Cuba within these multiple frameworks. Students will complete frequent short response essays and a research project. This course is required for students wishing to study in the Hampshire in Cuba semester program (open to all Five College students), and will provide support for framing independent projects and applications for the Cuba Semester. Though conducted in English, many readings will be available in Spanish and English and papers may be submitted in either language. Concurrent enrollment in a Spanish language class is strongly recommended.
Today, newspapers speak of a decided tilt to the left in Latin America (Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Uruguay, for example, all have presidents who affirm socialism). This was not the case twenty years ago, when, to everyone's astonishment, the Zapatistas rose in revolt in Chiapas. Surfacing the same day that NAFTA went into effect-January 1, 1994, they announced a different vision of Mexico's future. The actions and writings of the Zapatistas constitute an extraordinary case study in which many preoccupations converge: the economic, the political, indigenous rights, women's rights, civil society, cultural memory, and writing that is poetic and political. Focusing on the Zapatista revolt enables us to consider an example of "local" resistance to "global" designs, the ongoing challenge to neoliberal economics and to limited conceptions of "democracy" that condemn populations to invisibility, their cultural memory to oblivion, and their needs and knowledge to subaltern status. At heart, this course hopes to provide the unsettling (and promising) experience of viewing the world and ourselves from perspectives other than those we inherit and inhabit.
Objectives: This course seeks to cast a deep and ample look at the polemic and diverse Cuban films made on the island after 1991, which for the first time were not solely produced by the Cuban Cinematographic Institute, ICAIC. This is an intensive course and its objectives can be realized only through the students' active participation and interaction, both in and out of class and the active commitment to the daily workload that a course of this nature requires. Punctuality and attendance are a must. Among the course's main objectives: 1.Sociological: to make students learn how the Cuban films made in the 1990s-institutionally or privately--have reflected the changes on the island after the collapse of the Socialist Bloc. 2.Thematic: to present how Cuban films of the period addressed a wide spectrum of social conflicts and topics including homosexuality and a wide range of sexual orientations, as well as emigration, women's, family issues, existential problems, and the social crisis. 3.Stylistic: to analyze the diversity of styles and influences utilized by Cuban filmmakers. Cuban cinema is very diverse stylistically and is incorporating the most recently technologies, as well as the new production, distribution and exhibition requirements. Classes will be taught in simple academic Spanish. However, the students will be free to ask questions or make comments in English.
As the ability to communicate depends largely on a good understanding of the culture, the Spanish course attempts to enhance students understanding, respect and appreciation for the rich traditions and customs of Cuba. The course tries to build the students' ability of language use, especially at a colloquial level, as well as on topics of daily conversation and current interest such as social life, family, culture, art, race, gender etc. The combination of Spanish classes and daily exchange at the students' home stays helps to provide the kind of language interaction in a real life situation that will permit them to expand the vocabulary and grammar studied in class and to develop some comfort speaking the Spanish language. Classes will focus on analyzing written articles, increasing vocabulary and having conversation and discussion in Spanish on various topics. Speakers will be invited to talk about their work. Documentary films and videos will be shown. Students will occasionally visit museums, cultural sites and performances and conduct small investigations on a cultural and social topic.
Professor of Sociology
Mail Code SS
Franklin Patterson Hall 215
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002