• Unpacking the Libraries of Post-Soviet Cuba

    Author(s):
    Vicky Unruh (see profile)
    Date:
    2013
    Group(s):
    CLCS 20th- and 21st-Century, LLC 20th- and 21st-Century Latin American, LLC 20th- and 21st-Century Spanish and Iberian, LLC Cuban and Cuban Diasporic
    Subject(s):
    Caribbean literature, Cultural studies, Latin American literature
    Item Type:
    Article
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6088X
    Abstract:
    Beginning with the renowned “Words to Intellectuals” (1961) delivered by Fidel Castro in the José Martí National Library and the creation of a state network of libraries, the library in Cuba was transformed into a cultural sphere saturated with ideological ambiguity. On the one hand, the library embodied the symbolic axis of the literacy campaigns and of reading as the catalyzing nucleus of revolutionary volunteerism and of the imagined solidarity among Cubans of different social classes. But the library also constituted the foundational scene of the enduring uncertain relationship between the state and intellectuals embodied in Fidel’s directive “within the Revolution, everything; against the Revolution, nothing.” In this context, the representation of the library in post-Soviet Cuban literature and film re-stages unfinished debates between freedom of expression and the social contract. Drawing on concepts from Foucault, de Certeau, and Benjamin, this analysis demonstrates that recent Cuban cultural production re-invigorates the library as a space of ideological negotiation in a period of precarious expectations and re-activates cultural conversations about social class and democratization; individual and collective ownership of cultural resources; and the revolutionary ideal of citizen immersion in cultural life.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal Article
    Pub. DOI:
    10.1353/rvs.2013.0027
    Journal:
    Revista de Estudios Hispanicos
    Volume:
    47
    Issue:
    2
    Start Page:
    175
    End Page:
    198
    Status:
    Published
    License:
    All Rights Reserved

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