Category Archives: ¿Qué pasa, CHC?





Author Examines Cuban TV’s Remarkable History

By Peter E. Howard, UM News

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Historian Yeidy M. Rivero credits the CHC for igniting her passion for examining commercial television in Cuba.

An imposing figure who liked the sound of his own voice, the uniform-clad revolutionary frequently promoted his political objectives on television. Sometimes his speeches went on for as long as eight hours, without a commercial break.When he came to power in Cuba in 1959, Fidel Castro wasted little time taking to the airwaves.

At the time, the television stations were privately owned, and it wasn’t until a year to 18 months later that the government took over. It knew the power of the medium back then, and used it to its advantage.

“Castro was marketing the revolution,” said Yeidy M. Rivero, author of the book Broadcasting Modernity, which examines the history of commercial television in Cuba from 1950 to 1960. “He was very charismatic, and he used it perfectly well.”

Rivero, a professor at the University of Michigan, was at the University of Miami’s Otto G. Richter Library Wednesday night to talk about her book, and engage the audience gathered in the Cuban Heritage Collection’s Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion in a discussion about the birth of commercial television in Cuba during a period of political and economic upheaval.

It was a homecoming of sorts for the historian. Rivero credits the research she did at the Cuban Heritage Collection at UM Libraries for igniting her passion for the project. From day one, she recalled, she was provided a daily cafecito to enjoy – “with plenty of sugar.”

“I feel like this is part of my family,” Rivero shared.

Cuba’s history with television is remarkable, with the island nation at the cutting edge of production and programming from the beginning. Talented employees helped advance the products. Some fled Cuba because of the instability, enriching television production in other Latin American countries, including Venezuela and Puerto Rico.

Cuba, Rivero said, was the first country in Latin America to have color television, and second in the world to feature it after the United States.

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Broadcasting Modernity: Cuban Commercial Television, 1950-1960, published by Duke University Press in 2015.

Rivero added that she has always been “fascinated by the popularity of the medium,” and began researching commercial television in Cuba about a decade ago. She read every newspaper and magazine article she could find on television in Cuba, and was pleasantly surprised to find detailed analyses in documents at the Biblioteca Nacional José Martí Centro de Investigaciones del Instituto Cubano de Radio y Televisión in Havana.

Early television in Cuba, she said, was used to convey the country as modern, emerging, economically successful, educated, and morally sound. Some rumba dances were censored on television because they were deemed too risqué.

“When I began my research,” Rivero said, “I had no idea what I would find.”

Photos by Brittney Bomnin.



CHC Hours Update

The CHC will have modified hours during the week of September 7-11. Please note the following holiday and early closure:

  • Monday, September 7: Closed for Labor Day
  • Wednesday, September 9: The CHC Reading Room will be closed all day in preparation for the event Broadcasting Modernity: Cuban Commercial Television, 1950-1960. Researchers will still be able to access and receive assistance from the Conference Room from 9 a.m. through 4 p.m.

For more information, please visit our Hours & Directions page.

 



Now On View: Natural Cuba

Natural Cuba

An exhibition highlighting the island’s vibrant flora and fauna and their historical depictions, from iconic botanical illustrations to stunning wildlife publications to the beautifully colored specimens of the polymita picta, Cuba’s native tree snail. A series of historical photos, books, and other materials preserved by the Cuban Heritage Collection are now on display through Fall 2015 at the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion at the Otto G. Richter Library.



Now On View: Quince Sellos Cubanos

Quince Sellos Cubanos

An exhibition highlighting iconic scenes and symbols from Cuba’s past, reimagined by internationally renowned Cuban artist María Martínez-Cañas. A limited-edition portfolio of gelatin silver prints is on view alongside the artist’s thirty-year collection of original Cuban stamps which inspired the work. The portfolio was donated to the Cuban Heritage Collection in 2015 by Alan Gordich. It is on display on the second floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.



Join Us for Broadcasting Modernity: Cuban Commercial Television, 1950-1960 on September 9

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The University of Miami’s Cuban Heritage Collection
and Florida International University’s Cuban Research Institute
invite you to a presentation of the book

Broadcasting Modernity: Cuban Commercial Television, 1950-1960
by Yeidy M. Rivero, PhD

Opening remarks by Jorge Duany, PhD
Director, FIU Cuban Research Institute

Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Reception 6:30 p.m.
Presentation 7 p.m.

Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion
Otto G. Richter Library, 2nd Floor
University of Miami
1300 Memorial Drive
Coral Gables, FL 33146

RSVP to richterevents@miami.edu or call 305-284-4026.
Reception sponsored by the Amigos of the Cuban Heritage Collection

 

The birth and development of commercial television in Cuba in the 1950s occurred alongside political and social turmoil. In this period of dramatic swings encompassing democracy, a coup, a dictatorship, and a revolution, television functioned as a beacon and promoter of Cuba’s identity as a modern nation. In Broadcasting Modernity, television historian Yeidy M. Rivero shows how the television industry enabled different institutions to convey an image of progress, democracy, economic abundance, high culture, education, morality, and decency. After nationalizing Cuban television, the state used it to advance Fidel Castro’s project of creating a modern socialist country. As Cuba changed, television changed with it. Dr. Rivero not only demonstrates television’s importance to Cuban cultural identity formation; she explains how the medium functions in society during times of radical political and social transformation.

Yeidy M. Rivero is Professor of Screen Arts and Cultures at the University of Michigan. She is the coeditor of Contemporary Latina/o Media: Rethinking Production, Circulation, and Politics (2014) and author of Tuning Out Blackness: Race and Nation in the History of Puerto Rican Television (2005). Her scholarship focuses on television studies, race and the media, global media, and Latino/a studies.

Please click map image below to enlarge. Contact us at 305-284-4026 or richterevents@miami.edu with questions about directions and parking.

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CHC Research Colloquia August Schedule

The Cuban Heritage Collection’s 2015-2016 Research Colloquia continues in August with several talks by researchers on works in progress. ​Colloquia are scheduled for 3 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

    • Thursday, August 13
      Abel Sierra Madero, New York University (visiting fellow)
      Made in Cuba: Theatre, Nation and the Forging of the Erotic Subject in the Second Republic (1933-1958)
    • Tuesday, August 18
      Elise Arnold-Levene, Columbia University (CHC Graduate Fellow)
      Lydia Cabrera, the Storyteller as Collector
    • Thursday, August 20 * rescheduled for Wednesday, September 2
      José Villar, Florida International University (CHC Graduate Fellow)
      New Men, New Nations, New Selves: Queer Subjects between Assimilation and Practices of Freedom in Contemporary Cuban Cultural Production
    • Tuesday, August 25
      William Kelly, Rutgers University (CHC Graduate Fellow)
      Constancy and Change: An Analysis of Revolutionary-Era Urban Housing Policy in Cuba
    • Thursday, August 27
      Richard Mwakasege-Minaya, University of Michigan (CHC Graduate Fellow)
      Mobilizing the Empire: Cuban Exile Media & Cold War Politics
    • Monday, August 31
      Francisca Aguilo Mora, University of Miami (CHC Graduate Fellow)
      Language Crossing and Multiaccentuality in Women Writers del Gran Caribe: Narrative, Drama and Performance
  • Learn more about the CHC Graduate Fellowships »


Cuban Sculptor Roberto Estopiñán (1921-2015) Honored at CHC

by Sarah Block, Library Communications

Click the image above to watch a video of the discussion on May 13. More photos from the event can be viewed on Facebook.

Click the image above to watch a video of the discussion on May 13. More photos from the event can be viewed on Facebook.

Friends, family, and longtime admirers of Cuban sculptor Roberto Estopiñán shed light on the late artist’s vision and the compassion behind his celebrated work during an event held in his memory at the Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) and co-presented with the Cuban Museum on May 28. Estopiñán, who died in Miami in January 2015 at age 93, is widely known for his work in sculpture describing the complexities of the human condition, often through interpretations of the female form.

The program included a recognition of Estopiñán’s widow, Carmina Benguría, followed by remarks by nephew George Roberto Pace and art historian Alejandro Anreus on Estopiñán’s work and social activism—often interrelated—prior to his exile in 1961 and throughout his life. “At the heart of his work was always the human figure for he believed in the integral and spiritual value of the human person,” Anreus said. The program also included readings by the poets Alina Galliano and Gastón Álvaro, and a screening of the 1994 documentary Artists in Exile: Roberto Estopiñán by the late Cuban-American television writer and producer Ray Blanco.

Forty-six of Estopiñán’s sketchbooks, a few which were on display during the event, were donated to CHC where they will now be preserved and made available to the public.

Photos by Andrew Innerarity.

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Carmina Benguría, widow of Roberto Estopiñán, is honored by CHC Chair Maria Estorino Dooling (left), Ileana Fuentes of the Cuban Museum, and Benguría’s great-nephew Griffin Pace, during the May 28 celebration of Estopiñán’s life and work.



Join Us for a Celebration of Roberto Estopiñán on May 28

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Join us in honoring the life and work of Cuban-born sculptor Roberto Estopiñán, who passed away in January at the age of 93. The evening will include readings by the poets Alina Galliano and Gastón Álvaro; remarks by Estopiñán’s nephew Victor Alberto Garrido and the art historian Alejandro Anreus; and a recognition of his widow, Carmina Benguría. The program will be followed by a screening of the documentary Artists in Exile: Roberto Estopiñán (1994, 30 minutes) by the late Cuban-American television writer and producer Ray Blanco.

From the artist’s estate per his wishes, a selection of works on paper by Roberto Estopiñán will be donated to the Cuban Museum. The Cuban Heritage Collection has received 46 of his sketchbooks, some of which will be on display.

RSVP now to richterevents@miami.edu or call 305-284-4026.

Reception sponsored by the Amigos of the Cuban Heritage Collection.