Caribbean Fragments | A Library-Wide Exhibit Complements a Special Report on the University’s Close Relationship With Its Island Neighbors

Since its founding more than 90 years ago, the University of Miami has forged deep connections with the Caribbean. Faculty, students, and alumni travel throughout the islands, learning from diverse populations, providing assistance to underserved communities, and strengthening bonds. Cuba and the Caribbean, a special report recently produced by UM News in collaboration with academic units across the University including the Libraries, highlights the U’s varied activities in the Caribbean in areas such as environmental and anthropological research, healthcare, arts and culture, policy, and business.

Complementing the publication of Cuba and the Caribbean, a major exhibition has transformed the second floor of the Otto G. Richter Library and the Cuban Heritage Collection’s Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion. Caribbean Fragments comprises a selection of historical documents, artifacts, manuscripts, and rare books from UML’s Cuban Heritage Collection, Special Collections, University Archives, and the Marta and Austin Weeks Music Library, and offers a point of departure for reflection on the research and discovery that spawn new hemispheric insights.

Caribbean Fragments was co-curated by Beatrice Skokan, curator for Caribbean Collections and interim Esperanza Bravo de Varona Chair of the CHC, and Dr. Martin Tsang, CHC librarian and curator for Latin American Collections.

Seascapes and Mindscapes

Visiting artist Leandro Soto, whose work is represented among the CHC’s holdings, has reimagined the exhibition space as a seascape—a fluid, ever-changing ocean that permeates not only the archipelago’s geography, but the imagination of its inhabitants. Inviting viewers to navigate their own experiences and emotions as they explore the objects on view, the immersive environment evokes the circulating currents of spirituality that permeate the region, the profound influence of maritime travel and migration on its evolution, and the ebbs and flows of its eternal complexities.

To view the special University report on Cuba and the Caribbean, visit cuba.miami.edu.





Objects in the Archive: Now on Display

objectsArchive_FINAL-withBlurb_webby Sarah Block, Library Communications

The exhibition features materials that highlight how the physical characteristics of objects can provide insightful clues about the past and inform the present.

Curated by Meiyolet Méndez, interim chair of the Cuban Heritage Collection, and Dr. Martin Tsang, UM Libraries CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow in History and Area Studies, Objects in the Archive includes three-dimensional objects related to education, industry, and religion in Cuba from the Collection and outside materials. They span commodities and marketing materials from the tobacco industry, Republic-era educational memorabilia, creative works such as artist’s books from Cuba’s Vigía collective, and a rich variety of religious objects.

Tsang, a former CHC Graduate Fellow, culled religious ornaments and sculpture, many from the Lydia Cabrera Papers, that document influences of Afro-Cuban religion on the island and largely informed his own doctoral work.

“As an anthropologist I’m very interested in these material objects that remain and the inspiration, symbolism, and value that is given to and contained in these materials.” In his ethnographic fieldwork Tsang, who is also an initiated Lukumí priest, has also studied Afro-Cuban religion in both Cuba and on our doorstep through interviews and objects including religious icons and Afro-Atlantic beaded art.

“In some cases,” he explains, “objects have their own lives. A sculpture, such as that of a deity, can be as meaningful in a person’s life far beyond the concept of an inanimate object, taking on its own biography.”

One such object, a cement figure with cowrie shell features honoring the deity Elegua, is featured in the exhibition courtesy of Biscayne National Park, where it was originally found and is part of a larger religious use study that Dr. Tsang has conducted there. “The materials used and the way it’s created offer insights about origins of time and place, and broader cultural patterns and mobility.”

Objects in the Archive is on view through August 2016.



Dr. Alejandro Portes Launches Latest Work at CHC

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by Meiyolet Méndez and Sarah Block

On Wednesday, March 30, the Cuban Heritage Collection hosted the North American launch of the book The State and the Grassroots: Immigrant Transnational Organizations in Four Continents. The book, which explores immigration topics through the lens of sociology and public health, was co-edited by Alejandro Portes, University of Miami Professor of Sociology and Law. The event was co-presented with the Miami Institute for the Americas and UM’s Department of Sociology.

A panel of experts, including David Abraham (University of Miami Professor of Law), Jorge Dominguez (Harvard University Academy for International and Area Studies Chair), and Felicia Knaul (University of Miami Professor and Director of the Miami Institute for the Americas), examined Dr. Portes’ work. President Julio Frenk delivered the closing remarks.

_NN25772Portes described his inspiration for the book as “the way immigrants organize to both defend themselves and their identities. They promote their well-being in the receiving countries as well as protagonism in the regions and countries from which they came.”

One key finding of his work is that in many cases immigration as a cyclical process, in which people move back and forth between home and receiving countries, is not a “zero-sum game.” “People are very much attached to the culture and language that they came from, and such attachments are not inimical to successful cultural and political incorporation in the receiving country,” he said.

In the closing remarks, President Julio Frenk, who earned his doctorate in sociology from the University of Michigan, said the book allowed him to revisit his scholarly roots. “I enjoyed reading both the insights and the arcane language of my colleagues in the social sciences,” he said. He also noted the event marked his first book launch since becoming president of the University of Miami. “These events greatly contribute to the intellectual vigor of our institution.”

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Now On View at Richter Library: 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.



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 Archivist Natalie Baur Receives Fulbright-Garcia Robles Award

Natalie BaurNatalie Baur has received a Fulbright-García Robles award to work on digital preservation research with Dr. Juan Voutssás at the Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliotecológicas y de la Información (Library Science and Information Research Center) at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (National Autonomous University of Mexico).  Natalie will be exploring the challenges that the digital age presents to libraries and archives in a global context and developing possibilities for working with colleagues in Latin America on these issues.

Natalie joined the University of Miami Libraries in 2012 and serves as Archivist for the Cuban Heritage Collection. She has a Master of Library Science from the University of Maryland and a graduate degree in history and museum studies from the University of Delaware. Natalie is active in the Society of American Archivists, particularly its Latin American and Caribbean Cultural Heritage Archives Roundtable.

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by then-Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the longtime chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who had a profound influence on America’s foreign policy. His vision for mutual understanding shaped the prestigious exchange program that bears his name. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, it operates in over 155 countries worldwide and awards approximately 8,000 grants annually. The Fulbright-García Robles grants are awarded by the U.S.-Mexico Commission for Educational Exchange (COMEXUS) in support of fieldwork and research in areas of relevance to U.S.-Mexican relations.

Natalie will be on leave from September 2015 to May 2016. You can follow her on Twitter @nataliembaur.

 



CHC receives funding to digitize La Gaceta de La Habana

La Gaceta de La Habana

Gaceta de La Habana, 1889

The Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) at the University of Miami Libraries has received $29,850 from LAMP and LARRP to digitize its oversize holdings of the nineteenth-century newspaper La Gaceta de La Habana. LAMP (formerly the Latin American Microform Project) and LARRP (Latin Americanist Research Resources Project) are entities devoted to preserving and providing access to Latin American and Caribbean cultural heritage material and are administered by the Center for Research Libraries.

The CHC holds issues of La Gaceta from 1849 to 1899, representing one of the most complete sets of the newspaper publicly available outside of Cuba. Funding from LAMP and LARRP will cover the cost to digitize over 27,000 pages in 44 oversized bound volumes of the newspaper spanning from 1849 to 1886. The 22 volumes for the years 1887-1897, which are smaller in size, are being digitized in-house by the Libraries’ Digital Production unit.

La Gaceta de La Habana was the newspaper of record for the Spanish colonial government in the second half of the nineteenth century in Cuba.  La Gaceta was the successor to Diario de La Habana, which was published until 1848, when it changed its name to La Gaceta de La Habana: Periódico Oficial del Gobierno.  In turn, it was succeeded by La Gaceta Oficial de la República de Cuba in 1902.

The social, cultural, legislative, and commercial information published in the pages of La Gaceta is of interest not only to scholars of Cuban Studies, but also scholars of Atlantic, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies. Digitizing this considerable work will open avenues of research to faculty and students around the world and help preserve an important historical resource.

Meiyolet Méndez, CHC Librarian, and Laura Capell, Head of Digital Production and Electronic Records Archivist, are leading this project.



Join us February 10 for talk by CHC Visiting Scholar Albert Sergio Laguna

chc-lagunaThe Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami Libraries will present “Diasporic Diversión: Play and Popular Culture in Cuban America,” a talk by CHC Visiting Scholar Albert Sergio Laguna, Assistant Professor of American Studies at Yale University, on Tuesday, February 10, 2015, at 4:30 p.m.

Despite being a central concern for Cuban academics and a vital narrative mode in both art and quotidian life on the island, forms of cultural play have received scant attention in the context of the Cuban community in the United States. Through readings of popular forms of diversión such as stand-up comedy, radio, Internet humor, and festivals, Laguna examines the trajectory of the ludic in the Cuban diasporic context in order to sketch an understanding of how US-born Cuban Americans and more recent arrivals navigate their relationships to the United States, Cuba, and each other.

This event is cosponsored by the American Studies Program, Center for Latin American Studies, and Department of Modern Languages & Literatures.