CRI in the News: Picking Up the Beat with Cuban Scholar

Irech Colón
Contributing Writer

If you hear hip-hop and reggaeton blasting from the Ryder Business Building, it isn't an unauthorized party, but a scholarly break down of politics in Cuba.

Nora Gámez Torres, a Cuban scholar, will be discussing how music has become a crucial form of politics and social contestation for Cubans, Oct. 10 at 9:30 a.m.

This lecture is a project that will be transferred into the book, "Living in Transition: The Politics of Popular Music in Contemporary Cuba," which analyzes popular music and its relationship with social and political changes in present-day Cuba.

In this presentation, Gámez Torres will describe the "cultural public sphere" through which music in Cuba has given the public a way of untraditional communication, a method to express their criticism and feelings on political issues such as race, class, gender, and Cuba's strict control over the people.

With the help of Jorge Duany, the director of Cuban Research Institute, Gámez Torres aims to reach out to Miami to share her account of Cuban musicians rebelling, taking a stand, and displaying political criticism through music in a country known for its censorship.

"Because there is such a presence of state government and control of the media, then it becomes very interesting that these newer popular musical expressions are able to channel these ideas in public," Duany said.

The Cuban Research Institute has embodied a passionate mission to ensure advancement in Cuban-American cultures and ideas that allow an understanding of the lives of people surrounding the University, especially here in Miami where it is only 228 miles away from Cuba.

In doing so, they have facilitated a variety of lectures that reach out to a younger population, mostly second- and third-generation Cuban-Americans that usually are not included in discussions about Cuban politics.

The recently inaugurated Cuban-American Student Organization's Vice President Cecilia Sánchez agreed.

"We are all working together to sponsor events and share news on Cuban political issues," Sánchez said.

Informing students of such events catches more attention from students, especially those interested in learning about their Cuban-American roots.

"It is important for students to organize their own events and define their own needs. I think this lecture will be very relevant for those students," Duany said.

According to Gámez Torres, attending these events will help the Cuban Research Institute to further grow and attain support from scholars who are interested in researching Cuban studies.

"Without such resources, the CRI will not be able to compete with similar centers in private universities," said Gámez Torres.