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On Becoming Cuban: Identity, Nationality, and Culture

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Abstract

With this work, Louis A. Perez Jr. seeks to transform the way we view Cuba and its relationship with the United States. "On Becoming Cuban" is a sweeping cultural history of the sustained encounter between the peoples of the two countries and of the ways that this encounter helped shape Cubans' identity, nationality and sense of modernity from the early 1850s until the revolution of 1959. Using a range of Cuban and US sources - from archival records and oral interviews to popular magazines, novels and motion pictures - Perez reveals a powerful web of everyday, bilateral connections between the United States and Cuba and shows how US cultural forms had a critical influence on the development of Cubans' sense of themselves as a people and as a nation. He also articulates the cultural context for the revolution that erupted in Cuba in 1959. In the middle of the 20th century, Perez argues, when economic hard times and political crises combined to make Cubans painfully aware that their American-influenced expectations of prosperity and modernity would not be realized, the stage was set for revolution.

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... Estas interpretaciones denotativas de la moda no se concentraron tanto en los símbolos de estatus más tradicionales como en ciertos estilos capitalistas más contemporáneos y excéntricos. Así, si bien la influencia norteamericana en el vestir —manifestada en el uso de pieles y elaborados vestidos de noche en el caso de las mujeres y trajes y corbatas en el caso de los hombres—dejó de ser atributo de respetabilidad (Pérez, 1999) y estatus y se desasoció de determinadas profesiones, la crítica a la misma no participó de lógicas denotativas. La crítica al " burgués respetable, " integrado al proceso revolucionario, parece haber ocupado menos la atención del nuevo régimen político cubano, y de sus aparatos propagandístico y represivo, que la condena a los estilos de vestir asociados con la vagancia y el ocio, la actitud diletante, el intelectualismo, la cultura extranjera primermundista, o la homosexualidad, todos los cuales se consideraron indicadores de patologías conducentes a la contrarrevolución y el crimen. ...
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Candidata a Doctora en Sociología en The New School for Social Research. Ha trabajado en la Oficina Nacional de Diseño Industrial (ONDI) en Cuba e impartido seminarios sobre cultura y sociedad en Parsons, The New School for Design, en Nueva York. Su tesis doctoral analiza las relaciones entre moda y política durante el socialismo cubano. Es la autora del blog Cuba Material, que desde el 2013 se dedica a archivar imágenes y textos relacionados con la cultura material cubana, y ganadora del New Challenge Award for Social Innovation. Resumen: El texto explora el rol de las dinámicas de la moda en la consolidación del socialismo de estado de tipo soviético en Cuba. Se afirma que la moda participó de dinámicas de dominación, legitimación y control en los años 1960s y 1970s. Se sostiene que el régimen cubano promovió significados denotativos de la cultura material que conectaron de manera directa valores políticos y estilos de la moda, y se ofrecen ejemplos que acercan el estudio de este país a los estudios contemporáneos de la cultura material en Europa del Este y la URSS. Palabras Clave: cultura material, moda, significados denotativos, socialismo, Cuba. Abstract: The text explores the role that fashion dynamics played in the consolidation of a Soviet-type state socialist regime in Cuba, where they participated of mechanisms of domination, legitimation, and control. It is argued that denotative understandings of material culture were promoted by the Cuban regime, which straightforwardly connected political values with fashion styles. Examples are provided, bringing the study of this country closer to the studies of material culture in Eastern Europe, region with which comparisons are made.
... No obstante, las relaciones comerciales con Estados Unidos y la penetración de las empresas procedentes de ese país hacía tiempo que iban en aumento, generando una imbricación de intereses mutuos entre cubanos y norteamericanos (Pérez Jr., 1995). Algo similar ocurría con la penetración cultural y el avance de las ideas modernizadoras procedentes de la nueva metrópoli, que entraron en competencia con la anterior tradición española y la relegaron en parte, tanto entre las elites como entre los sectores populares (Pérez Jr., 1999). Con todo, hubo una continuidad en las relaciones políticas entre Cuba y España, aunque fueran más relevantes las relaciones económicas . ...
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