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WLP Scholar Series: Paloma Duong, ‘Cuban Travels’
October 22 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
This talk analyzes the reactivation of Cuba as an international object of desire at the turn of the 21st century. A sentiment that circulates widely –“I want to go to Cuba before it changes.” — provides the point of departure to rethink both “the new trip to Cuba” and “the old trip to Cuba” through the lens of the trip to socialism as a 20th-century genre. A reading of non-canonical works of the corpus of 1960s travelogues — those of French agronomist René Dumont, German poet and essayist Hans Magnus Enzensberger, and Brazilian filmmaker Glauber Rocha, among others — invites a critique of the established tropes, characters, and plots characteristic of socialist travel as a genre.
This revision of Cuban travels, in turn, contextualizes the contemporary anxieties and popular images informing the new trip to Cuba in the political horizon of a common, global present. Juxtaposing earlier travels accounts to contemporary ones (the Cuban trips of Beyoncé and Jay Z, The Fast and the Furious 8, Pope Francis, the Colombian peace process, The Rolling Stones, and Chanel) renders visible a network of material flows, cultural objects, and political imaginaries in which Cuba participates simultaneously as a particular social reality and as a contested symbolic space for different constituencies.
Paloma Duong is assistant professor of Latin American Studies at MIT. At the intersection of cultural studies, media theory, and political philosophy, Duong researches and teaches modern and contemporary Latin American culture. She works with social texts and emergent media cultures that speak to the exercise of cultural agencies and the formation of political subjectivity. She is currently writing Portable Postsocialisms: Cuban Mediascapes After the End of History, a book-length study of Cuba’s changing mediascape and an inquiry on the postsocialist condition and its contexts. Her articles have been published in the Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, Art Margins, and Cuban Counterpoints: Public Scholarship about a Changing Cuba.
An RSVP is necessary by Wednesday, October 21, 11:30 pm ET on Eventbrite. The Zoom link will be emailed the morning of the event.