Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Kathleen E. Newman
My dissertation explores how the concepts of collective memory, identity and nostalgia are defined in Cuban culture after the end of the Soviet Union, and how these definitions relate to the presence of Soviet culture in Cuban daily life during at least thirty years, from the 1960s to the 1990s. The presence of Soviet aesthetics and symbols in Cuban literature and cinema from the 1990s to onward appears not just as physical traces but also as the representation of a nostalgic space and as the allegory of an identity in transition. I argue that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a group of Cuban authors experienced a sense of nostalgia that is linked to the loss of a collective memory from the period when their nation thrived as an ideological partner of the Soviet Union. I also argue that despite the fact that the Communist Party continues to hold power, with the de-penalization of American currency, Cuba is a post-socialist country. These circumstances contributed to the emergence of an imagined Soviet-Cuban sentimental community, which despite ideological differences among its members, retains a common focal point: a generation's memories.
The consumption of certain cultural products, among them cartoons, allowed the formation of a Cuban identity marked by affection towards Soviet cultural forms. Daily contact with the Soviet experience brought about an aesthetic where the use of Soviet symbols is frequent: words in Russian, music, graphic arts and other Soviet references. There are many young Cubans with Russian names; also, in the houses and on the streets there are still cars and appliances from the Soviet period. This Soviet aesthetic includes literature, cinematography, music, theatrical performances, and even online sites.
The Cuban Soviet past continues in the Cuban present as one of the crucial cultural imaginaries. There is not an ideological nostalgia; nostalgia is a means for mourning the end of a world. The end of this world, finally, has allowed the birth of multiple, unstable and personal worlds, some of them related to the Soviet era in Cuba.
I center my analysis on authors such as Anna Lidia Vega Serova, Jesús Díaz, Adelaida Fernández de Juan, Gleyvis Coro Montanet, Antonio José Ponte and José Manuel Prieto. In their novels and short stories we encounter traces of Soviet presence. At the same time, there has been a flourishing of documentaries after the 1990s that explore what the Soviets left behind in Cuban society after their country disappeared.
2, v, 236 pages
Includes bibliographical references (pages 225-236).
Copyright 2010 Damaris Puñales Alpízar