Friday, October 8, 2010

Secret diplomacy, princely dancers and portraits of Fidel


Cuba has been a hot topic at the Latin American Studies Association's mega conference that ends Saturday in Toronto.
Dozens of Cuba specialists - many from Cuba, others from the United States and other nations - are at the four-day academic bash.
I skimmed through the program and counted roughly 78 panels related to Cuba. Among those, there are several hundred presentations or papers connected to Cuba. These are some of the titles that caught my eye:
  • Making Up Is Hard To Do: Havana and Washington's Wary Courtship after Fidel: William M. LeoGrande, American University
  • Face-to-Face or In-Your-Face with Castro: Lessons from the Secret Carter Administration Talks with Cuba: Robert A. Pastor, American University
  • Kissinger and Castro: Secret Diplomacy with Fidel Castro: Kirby Jones, Alamar Associates
  • Talks with the United States: A Cuban Perspective: Rafael Meinardo Hernández Rodríguez, Revista Temas
  • Obama: A Portrait by Fidel Castro. The Changing Image of the Enemy in Cuban Political Discourse: Juan Orlando Pérez González, Roehampton University
  • Princely Machos in Tights: Cuban Ballet Dancers' Embodiment of Masculinity: Lester Tomé, Smith College
  • Buscándote Cuba: New Audiovisual Artists Shape the Nation's Future: Ann Marie Stock, College of William and Mary
  • That’s Not Funny: “Post Special Period” Cartoons in Cuba: Sara E. Cooper, California State University/Chico
  • Generational Change and Cuban National Identity: Continity and Change in the National Imaginary: Michael W. O'Sullivan, Brock University
  • Cuba's Cultural Institutions and the Economic Crisis: The "Special Period" Redux: Carlos Riobó, City College of New York
  • The Training and Performance of Social Workers During a Time of Crisis: The Cuban experience: Lourdes Teresa U. De Urrutia Barroso, Universidad de La Habana
Here are other interesting topics that were listed in Spanish:
  • Socialización laboral de los jóvenes en Cuba: diversidad según espacios económicos: María Josefa Luis Luis, Centro de Estudios Sobre la Juventud/ONG
  • Ser joven en la Cuba actual: ¿cómo se vive el género?: Yohanka Valdés Jiménez, Centro de Investigaciones Psicológicas y Sociológicas
  • Comportamiento de los flujos migratorios externos cubanos en las condiciones de crisis económica internacional.: Ivis Gutiérrez Guerra, Universidad de La Habana
  • La imagen de Cuba en la prensa digital de la Florida: Gretel Marrero
  • Las organizaciones de origen cubano en la política de Estados Unidos hacia Cuba en el contexto de la crisis económica: Víctor A. Álvarez Serrano
  • La economía cubana y su impacto en la Administración Pública a nivel local: Lourdes Margarita Tabares Neyra, Universidad de La Habana
  • Los retos participativos en la Administración Pública cubana de hoy.: Lissette Pérez Hernández, Universidad de La Habana
It's clear there's a vibrant debate over Cuba's past, present and future. American colleges and universities miss out on some of this rich exchange of ideas because the U.S. government restricts academic exchange between the United States and Cuba.
The Clinton administration expanded academic exchange programs with Cuba. By the 2003-04 academic year, Cuba was the 14th most popular destination for American foreign exchange students, according to an article entitled, “National Security, the State, and the Politics of U.S.-Cuba Educational Exchange,” by Sheryl Lutjens at California State University.
Some critics said Americans were using academic exchange programs to travel to Cuba as tourists. The Bush administration clamped down and dozens of American schools ended their Cuba programs.
Barack Obama - a Democrat who has taken a decidedly Bushesque approach to Cuba at times - has the power to open up academic travel again, but hasn't done it.
For more on the merits of academic exchange with Cuba, see Ted Henken's El Yuma blog and follow the links.

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