UM Libraries Celebrates South Florida’s Caribbean Voices

By Sarah Block

Click the image to view all interviews online.

In his work as a corporate attorney Marlon Hill represents artists and creatives in the South Florida area seeking to build a brand. Outside of the courtroom, however, Hill is an advocate for those who are grappling with issues of identity as individuals in a new land and culture.

“I feel very strongly about helping any student who is going through a process of acclimation, assimilation, and integration,” he explains in his oral history interview at the University of Miami Special Collections as part of its new Caribbean Diaspora Oral History Project. “The success of that person and that person’s family is dependent on how those three areas of immigration are. They can make or break a family.”

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Artist Edouard Duval Carrie shared his story at Special Collections in the Caribbean Diaspora Oral History Project. Highlights from each of the oral history interviews are available on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Hill, a Miami resident originally from Jamaica, said his own struggles in the immigration process as a teenager fueled a desire for mentoring new immigrants, as early as his college years. Today he joins a growing list of South Florida community members of Caribbean origin who are telling their stories in the series sponsored by the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.

So far, more than 20 individuals, including photojournalist Carl Juste, TV Producer/host Elizabeth Guérin, and artist Edouard Duval Carrie have taken part in the series, which spans topics surrounding their various experiences and contributions to the South Florida community in such areas as art and media, education, entrepreneurship, and activism.

“Our interviewees are individuals who are actively involved in a creative blending of their immigration experience with their lives in the United States,” said Special Collections’ Manuscripts Librarian Beatrice Skokan, who led the project, at a July 13 celebration of the series that recognized its first group of participants.

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UM Libraries Manuscripts Librarian Beatrice Skokan thanks donors during the reception.

Skokan describes the series as an important initiative for Special Collections and its Caribbean Archive, which houses rare maps, books, and correspondence as well as materials that document modern life and families of the Caribbean basin. “The South Florida region, with its multiplicity of migrations, has become an ideal setting for the historical documentation of hemispheric encounters,” Skokan says. “This is about documenting the experience of people who inhabited Caribbean regions from their point of view—unedited by another’s gaze and interpretation.”

Many of the department’s most rare and historical Caribbean materials, dating back to the 1700s, were donated by some of UM’s earliest supporters, underscoring one of the region’s and the University’s enduring strengths. At his January inauguration, President Julio Frenk described a “hemispheric” aspiration as one of four defining visions for the future of the University.

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Oral history donors Marlon Hill (second from right) and Elizabeth Guérin (right) with guests at Special Collections’ Caribbean Voices reception.

The ongoing series is now accessible to students, scholars, and the general public for research on a variety of topics related to South Florida’s Caribbean diaspora. It currently features individuals of Haitian, Dominican, Bahamian, Venezuelan, Cuban, and Colombian origins, among others, with the intent of continued growth as new funding becomes available.

Interviews, which were conducted by Julio Estorino and Lucrèce Louisdhon-Louinis along with Skokan, are accessible from UM Libraries’ website. Additional oral history projects of UM Libraries include the Haitian Diaspora Oral Histories; the Cuban Heritage Collection’s Luis J. Botifoll Oral History Project and Human Rights Oral History Project; and collaborations with National Public Radio’s StoryCorps, including StoryCorps Historias and StoryCorps Military Voices Initiative (carried out with the nonprofit Warmamas), which is currently in process.

Current participants of the Caribbean Diaspora Oral History Project include:

Elizabeth Baez, Artist/Educator

Firelei Báez, Artist

Ronald Bilbao, Legislative Specialist

Lucy Canzoneri-Golden, Artist/Educator

Tiberio Castellanos, Journalist

Edouard Duval Carrié, Artist

Elizabeth Guérin, TV Producer/Host

Roberto Guzmán, Linguist/Writer

Marlon Hill, Attorney

Carl Juste, Photojournalist

Fr. Alejandro López, Priest

Gepsie Metellus, Community Leader

Francisco Portillo, Immigration Activist

María Rodriguez, Activist

Ruby Romero-Issaev, Producer/Marketing Director

Nora Sandigo, Immigration Activist

Althea “Vicki” Silvera, Archivist

Patricia Sowers, Nonprofit Director

Nixon St. Hubert (DJ Nickymix), DJ/Producer

Federico Uribe, Artist

Dr. Freddie G. Young, Educator/Community Leader

This project is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council of Arts, and the State of Florida. If you are interested in learning more about this collection, or to recommend someone for this project, please call 305-284-3247.

Event photos by Mitchell Zachs.



2016 New Directions in Cuban Studies Conference

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The University of Miami Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) will host a multidisciplinary conference October 20-21, 2016, to disseminate the work of graduate students and emerging scholars and survey the current status of Cuban and Cuban American Studies.

Call for Papers

The planning committee for the 2016 New Directions in Cuban Studies conference welcomes panel submissions as well as individual paper proposals on any topic that relates to the overall theme of fresh, innovative, and emerging research on Cuba.

Submit a Proposal

Eligibility

  • Advanced graduate students
  • Emerging scholars (defined as having received Ph.D. within the last five years)

Application Instructions

Proposals can be submitted electronically through Interfolio until July 30, 2016,* and should include:

  • Completed application form
  • Abstract of no more than 500 words
  • Language of presentation (English or Spanish)

To propose a complete panel, please indicate the theme or unifying topic described in a short panel abstract. Panels are composed of four presenters, one of whom is to be named chairperson to act as moderator/discussant. Each presenter must also be named in the submission with accompanying contact information, title, and short abstract of paper.

*Applicants whose proposals are accepted will be notified on August 15, 2016, and are required to submit a full paper by September 30, 2016.

Additional Information

  • Past and current recipients of a CHC or Goizueta Foundation Graduate Fellowship are strongly encouraged to apply.
  • Papers presented at the conference may be selected for publication in the conference proceedings.
  • Thanks to funding from The Goizueta Foundation, the Cuban Heritage Collection will contribute toward the travel expenses of those selected to participate in the conference.

Submit a Proposal

Questions?  Please contact Mei Méndez, Interim Esperanza Bravo de Varona Chair of the Cuban Heritage Collection, at meimendez@miami.edu or 305-284-4900.

About New Directions in Cuban Studies 2016

Planning for the 2016 conference is underway with the strong support of our organizing committee. The committee is made up of the following individuals:

  • Dr. Victor Deupi, Lecturer, University of Miami School of Architecture
  • Dr. Lillian Manzor, Associate Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences
  • Mei Méndez, Interim Esperanza Bravo de Varona Chair, University of Miami Cuban Heritage Collection
  • Dr. Martin Tsang, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow in History and Area Studies, University of Miami Libraries

The New Directions in Cuban Studies conference is free and open to the public.  Registration is required.

Conference History

The inaugural conference was held in 2014 and included the participation of 13 former CHC fellows. The event’s keynote speaker was Louis A. Pérez, Jr. Panel discussants included Ada Ferrer, New York University, José Quiroga, Emory University, Lisandro Pérez, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and María de los Angeles Torres, University of Illinois, Chicago.

The 2014 New Directions in Cuban Studies conference was made possible in part through funding from The Goizueta Foundation and the Amigos of the Cuban Heritage Collection.



Goizueta Fellows: In Their Own Words

Starting this summer the Cuban Heritage Collection welcomes ten emerging scholars into the Goizueta Foundation Graduate Fellowships Program. We are proud to introduce each of our 2016-2017 Goizueta Fellows throughout the course of the program.

Thanks to Melissa Bumbach for taking part in the first interview of the series. Melissa will discuss her work in a CHC Research Colloquium on Wednesday, June 29, 3 p.m., at CHC’s Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion. All are welcome to attend this presentation.

About Melissa Bumbach

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Goizueta Fellow Melissa Bumbach is pursuing her Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting at the University of Miami Frost School of Music.

Melissa Bumbach is a teaching assistant at the University of Miami Frost School of Music where she is pursuing her Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting with a cognate in music education. She has been awarded two research grants to fund dissertation research in Cuba and the U.S. Previously, she was the choral director at Howard Middle School in Marion County, Florida, where she was named the 2012 Howard Middle School Teacher of the Year and awarded a $10,000 grant for her choral program from the TV show Glee and the National Association for Music Education. She went on to be named the 2012 Marion County Teacher of the Year. Melissa is also a professional vocal soloist and choral singer and has recorded with Gloria Estefan and sung the National Anthem at the 2016 CNN Republican Presidential Debate in Miami, FL. Melissa received her master’s degree in choral conducting at the University of South Florida, where was the Graduate Conducting Apprentice for the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay. She received her bachelor’s degree in music education from Palm Beach Atlantic University.

What university/program are you from?

University of Miami Frost School of Music, pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting

What are you working on?

I am conducting an oral history of Dr. Digna Guerra, the director of the National Choir of Cuba since 1975, for my dissertation. Chamber choirs from the National Choir of Cuba have recently performed at the baseball game attended by U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro as well as with the Rolling Stones.

What do you expect to find at the CHC?

The Cuban Heritage Collection contains the Manuel Ochoa papers. Manuel Ochoa, a well-known choral and orchestral conductor, was Dr. Guerra’s conducting teacher in Cuba in the 1960s. I hope to find materials from Dr. Guerra’s time under Manuel Ochoa’s direction. I also hope to find materials related to Dr. Guerra’s many choral performances and professional recognitions in Cuba and internationally.

How can we learn more about your research?

I will be talking about my project in a CHC Research Colloquium* on Wednesday, June 29, 3 p.m. at the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion.

*Colloquia are free and open to the public. Contact us at chc@miami.edu for more information.

About the Goizueta Foundation Graduate Fellowships Program

The Goizueta Foundation Graduate Fellowships Program provides assistance to doctoral students who wish to use the research resources available in the University of Miami Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) in support of dissertation research. The goal of these fellowships is to engage emerging scholars with the materials available in the Cuban Heritage Collection and thus contribute to the larger body of scholarship in Cuban, hemispheric, and international studies.

For more information about fellowship opportunities to study at the Cuban Heritage Collection or to learn about past fellows, click here.



Summer Hours

The Collection’s summer hours remain the same as during the academic year, please see below.

However, the department will be closed on Monday, May 30th and Monday, July 4th in observance of Memorial Day and 4th of July, respectively.

Please email us at chc@miami.edu with any questions.

CHC Regular Hours

Monday 9am – 4pm
Tuesday 9am – 4pm
Wednesday 9am – 7pm
Thursday 9am – 4pm
Friday 9am – 4pm
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed


Collection Highlights: Music Papers

The Cuban Heritage Collection has created a research guide to its archive of music-related documents, distributed in more than 40 collections of papers and/or recordings of musicians, singers, composers, music scholars and music amateurs in Cuba and the diaspora. A wealth of books and various types of published materials on Cuban music from the early colonial times to the present are also available in the Collection. A database of music scores in the CHC is available in the Scores Database tab within the guide.

Featured image: Beny Moré (left), Abelardo Barroso (center) and Rolando Laserie at Los Jardines de la Tropical, Havana, April 26, 1958.

Featured image: Beny Moré (left), Abelardo Barroso (center) and Rolando Laserie at Los Jardines de la Tropical, Havana, April 26, 1958.