University of Connecticut

Events Calendar

Eyzaguirre Lecture

Tuesday, February 28, 2017
4:00pm – 5:30pm

Storrs Campus
Library - Class of 1947 Room

‘Casa tomada’: (Re)possession and (Re)conciliation with the Diaspora in Cuba’s Cultural Imaginary This talk traces the trope of the re-possessed property in post-Soviet Cuban fiction and film as a “practiced place” (De Certeau) or a “vortex of behavior” (Joseph Roach) for re-imagining the relationship between island Cubans and those who left in multiple waves after the 1959 revolution. This trope emerged in island artistic expression as early as the 1960s, for example in Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s farcical Las doce sillas (1962) in which characters engage in scavenger hunt for chairs taken by the state from a rich woman’s mansion because these searchers believe the chairs contain jewels, or in his classic Memorias del subdesarrollo (1967) where state officials take inventory of the bourgeois intellectual Sergio’s properties, left in his hands by a US-bound family. In the revolution’s early years, such artistic references to exiled Cubans or their possessions were relatively uncommon, as nationalist revolutionary rhetoric stigmatized exiles as defecting gusanos, the ostensible opposite of the “New Man” imagined by Che Guevara, and the socialist state’s housing agency redefined notions of private ownership. In contrast and drawing on selected narrative, theatre, and film interpretations of the abandoned or re-possessed property, this talk demonstrates that, in the post-Soviet era that has witnessed waves of return visits by exiled Cubans or their descendants and greater flexibility in state policy on private ownership, cultural representations of the (re)possessed house imagine the diaspora as experienced from the island as an ambivalent custodianship of cultural artifacts and legacies, an ambivalence that allows for more heterogeneous, expansive conceptions of Cuban culture and experience. With attention to the connections implicit in “possession” between the taking and holding of property and the taking and holding of bodies or minds, these representations, Unruh argues, also manifest a post-utopian, critical afterlife of revolutionary ideology, perhaps increasingly forgotten but not yet quite gone.


el Instituto (primary), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, English Department, Literatures, Cultures and Languages, Puerto Rican Latin American Cultural Center, UConn Master Calendar

Control Panel