Newsletter of the Cuban Heritage Collection of the University of Miami Libraries, August / September 2011

CHC Graduate Fellows Colloquium on Wednesday, September 7th

Join us in the Elena Díaz-Versón Amos Conference Room at the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion Otto G. Richter Library, 2nd Floor at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 7th when Rachel Hynson and João Gonçalves present and discuss their work as 2011 CHC Graduate Fellows. Rachel Hynson (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) is conducting research on “The Aesthetic of Cuban Beauty in an Era of Economic Austerity, 1959-1964;” and João Gonçalves (University of Chicago) is writing about “The Many Bodies of the Hero: Nationalism and Monuments to Martí in Havana and Miami.” Rachel Hynson and João Gonçalves are recipients of CHC Graduate Fellowships in the Research category.

The Cuban Heritage Collection Graduate Fellowships provide assistance to graduate students who wish to use the research resources available in the Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami. 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. The 2011 CHC Graduate Fellowships are generously funded by The Goizueta Foundation. Learn more »

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Now on Display – Cartoons as Political Commentary, Selections from the Cuban Heritage Collection

We invite you to visit us to view our latest exhibition, Cartoons as Political Commentary, Selections from the Cuban Heritage Collection.

Drawing from a rich tradition of political cartoons, this exhibition spotlights artists and publications that used the graphic medium to convey a pointed political message. In newspapers, magazines, and published works, artists created visual commentary that affirmed the printed text. These drawings had the power to parody, condemn, or make light of the situations around them and are unmatched by traditional print. The materials in view range from the 20th to the 21st centuries and include artists from the island and its diaspora, providing snapshots into the larger context of Cuban history.

This exhibition was organized by Meiyolet Méndez, Education and Outreach Librarian, and Kevin F. Mason, Graduate Student in the Department of Musicology at the Frost School of Music. It will be on display through the fall semester in the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion on the second floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.

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CHC Fellowship Program featured in Miami Herald article

In July, The Miami Herald featured the CHC Graduate Fellows and their research in the collections in an article titled “Students of Cuba flock to UM’s Cuban Heritage Collection.” The article follows a previous one also published this summer about employees 75 years and older becoming more common in the workplace in which CHC Chair Esperanza B. de Varona was featured. For the fellowship article, reporter Tania Valdemoro Longest interviewed graduate fellows Rachel Hynson, Sitela Alvarez and João Gonçalves at length about their dissertation research and the central role that the CHC has played in this process.

Hynson and Gonçalves are recipients of the 2011 Research Fellowship, which funds three months of research for students who wish to use the CHC as a primary resource for a dissertation, whereas Alvarez received the Pre-Prospectus Summer Fellowship allowing her one month’s time to research at the CHC for the purpose of writing a dissertation prospectus. Each has benefited from the CHC’s collections and the overall research environment. As Gonçalves puts it in the article, “the research conditions here are better than in Cuba. It’s hard to find certain papers there due to funding issues. And there are fewer people using the collections. The staff here can develop a personal relationship with you.”

Esperanza B. de Varona and Deputy Chair Maria Estorino were also interviewed in the article about the legacy of the CHC and the motivation behind the fellowship program. “We are building collections that have an impact in the larger academic community,” said Maria Estorino, deputy chair of the collection. “These are the future scholars for Cuban studies, hemispheric studies and international studies. We want them to come back and share their knowledge with others.”

 Read “Students of Cuba flock to UM’s Cuban Heritage Collection”

 Read this article in Spanish in El Nuevo Herald

 Learn more about the CHC Fellowships

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Scholar Spotlight: Stephen Chambers

Stephen Chambers is a Ph.D. candidate in History at Brown University and was in residence at the Cuban Heritage Collection for one month in 2011 as a Graduate Fellow. His research project is entitled “The American State of Cuba: The Business of Cuba and the Monroe Doctrine.” Stephen’s dissertation focuses on the impact of early nineteenth century American investment in Cuba on U.S. foreign policy. He argues that the expansion of U.S.-Cuba trade was the calculated result of the incorporation of the American state into the elite trade networks of trans-national merchants.

Stephen’s primary motivation for applying to the fellowship was to be able to peruse the Edward Spalding Papers. Edward Spalding was a commercial agent for a number of elite New Englanders – particularly from Rhode Island and Massachusetts – invested in the Cuban trade in the 1810s – 1820s. He frequently acted as a supercargo and legal representative, both in the United States and abroad, and the trans-national circuits in which Spalding traveled left his papers predictably scattered. Stephen had consulted Spalding’s papers at a variety of institutions prior to arriving at the CHC, including The Rhode Island Historical Society, The Bristol Historical Society, and Louisiana State University. As it turned out, though, the Spalding Papers held by the CHC turned out to be pivotal for his dissertation research: “What I found in Miami was unlike what I had encountered in other archives and has significantly helped to fill in many gaps in my research and provide crucial evidence to support some long-held suspicions,” Stephen says. Crucially, Stephen was able to uncover materials which support evidence that many U.S. citizens remained active in slave trade after the United States outlawed the trans-Atlantic slave trade in 1808. Ordinarily, merchants destroyed these letters to cover their tracks, but the Spalding Papers contained several invaluable letters that were not destroyed.

Stephen also consulted the personal papers of the Cuban historian of U.S.-Cuba relations Herminio Portell Vilá, a recent and as of yet unprocessed acquisition. In these papers, Stephen encountered numerous items relevant for his dissertation including a rare article Vilá published in Cuba on the life of Benjamin Franklin, numerous organizational citations for professional talks that emphasized the importance of Russian interest in Cuba in the formulation of the Monroe Doctrine, and evidence of a very early American presence in the Spanish colony.

Stephen followed his fellowship at the CHC with another fellowship at the John Carter Brown Library in Providence, and presented an article titled “No God but Gain: The Business of Cuba in U.S. Foreign Policy” at a conference at Brown and Harvard University where he touched on many of the above themes. Stephen has fond recollections of researching at the CHC, and puts his experience in the following way: “I have never worked at a place quite as nice, and with people that are as helpful.”

 Learn more about Stephen Chambers’ research.

 Watch Stephen Chambers discuss his research and experience at CHC.

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In this issue

In short

Welcome to the 2011-2012 academic year to new and returning students and faculty!

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