Conference on Cuban and Cuban-American Studies

Image: 2019-plenary-session.jpg
Plenary session of CRI's Twelfth Conference on Cuban and Cuban-American Studies. From left to right: Drs. Astrid Arrarás, Francisco Scarano, Lillian Guerra, Yolanda Martínez-San Miguel, and Jorge Duany.

Every two years, FIU's Cuban Research Institute (CRI) organizes an academic conference on Cuban and Cuban-American studies. Held since 1997, this meeting has become the largest international gathering of scholars specializing in Cuba and its diaspora.

CRI hosted its Twelfth Conference on Cuban and Cuban-American studies on February 14–15, 2019. This year's meeting was dedicated to the distinguished collector and independent scholar Emilio Cueto, in recognition of his numerous contributions to the preservation, study, and promotion of Cuban history and culture.

The conference focused on the theme of "Cuba and Puerto Rico: Two Wings of One Bird?" Lola Rodríguez de Tió's memorable metaphor served as a cue for comparative inquiry and academic reflection. Our main theme, the relations between Cuba and Puerto Rico, invited interdisciplinary approaches to the multiple, complex, and sometimes contrasting links between the two countries, both historically and in current times. Although we welcomed discussions about the recent situation and the future of Cuba and Puerto Rico, we called for a thorough retrospective examination of the social, economic, political, and cultural dimensions of the intertwined histories of the two countries. We were especially interested in assessing the contribution of the islands' diasporas to the growing "Latinization" of the United States, particularly in Florida.

The program consisted of 37 panel sessions over two days, and featured experts in many disciplines, including literary criticism, history, political science, economics, music, the arts, law, and biology. More than 280 participants came from throughout the United States and other countries such as Cuba, Puerto Rico, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Spain, Germany, and Israel.

The program showed the wealth, breadth, and diversity of recent scholarship, conceptual approaches, and academic debates in Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, as well as in the related field of Puerto Rican Studies. The topics under discussion ranged widely from the natural history of Cuba and Puerto Rico to contemporary documentary film; from ethnoreligious minorities to the prospects of economic cooperation between the two islands; from the impacts of hurricanes Irma and María to the cultural identities of second-generation Cuban Americans and Puerto Ricans in the United States.

Once again, the conference gathered renowned experts on the Cuban and Cuban-American experience, such as Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Cristóbal Díaz Ayala, Emilio Cueto, Alejandro Portes, Silvia Pedraza, Lisandro Pérez, Guillermo Grenier, Susan Eckstein, Andrea O'Reilly Herrera, Iraida López, Alan West-Durán, Jorge Camacho, Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva, Gerardo González Núñez, Bert Hoffmann, Ana Menéndez, and Lillian Guerra. In addition, this year's program featured distinguished scholars in the field of Puerto Rican Studies, among them Francisco Scarano, Silvia Alvarez Curbelo, Yolanda Martínez-San Miguel, Blanca Ortiz-Torres, Carmen Haydée Rivera, Arlene Díaz, César Salgado, and Jorge Giovannetti. Many younger scholars and graduate students also participated in our gathering.

The closing panel of the conference was a well-attended roundtable on "Collecting Cuba: A Conversation with Emilio Cueto," featuring Michael J. Bustamante, María A. Cabrera Arús, Annia González, and Cueto himself, and moderated by Jorge Duany.

The conference was cosponsored by FIU's Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center and CasaCuba.

To view the program of the Twelfth Conference, please click here.