FIU Graduate Student Wins Cuban Heritage Collection Fellowship

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The Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami Libraries has awarded José A. Villar-Portela a graduate fellowship to pursue his research during the 2015–2016 academic year. His project is titled "New Men, New Nations, New Selves: Practices of Freedom, the Problem of Ethics, and Constructions of Queerness in Contemporary Cuban Cultural Production."

The historical relationship between the Cuban Revolution and homosexuality, long characterized by draconian repression and persecution, has gradually shifted in the last two decades. The homophobic politics of the first three decades of the revolutionary process have recently given way to an assimilationist politics of tolerance and inclusion. Villar-Portela's research will chart the particularities of this historical shift as they are both reflected in, and advanced by, cultural production in post-Soviet Cuba, paying particular attention to instances of queer oppositionality and resistance to assimilation. Informed by queer and feminist theories, and close readings of some representative texts from the time, this research will reveal the narrative deployment of a queer anti-assimilationist counter-politics encoded in an aesthetic of excess, transgression, and eroticized abjection.

José A. Villar-Portela is a doctoral student in the Department of Modern Languages at Florida International University, where he is pursuing a Ph.D. in Hispanic Literature and Gender/Sexuality Studies. His primary research interests include Caribbean literature, queer theory, critical feminist and post-feminist theory, and critical race theory. For two consecutive years, he has served as the Graduate Student Representative for the Modern Languages Department, and received numerous awards and recognitions for his service to the university community and academic achievements.