Title

Nostalgia in Cuban Memoir: Connecting Memory, Repression and Home-Making

Subject Area

Hispanic Caribbean Studies

Abstract

For many displaced individuals from Cuba creative (re)thinking of nostalgia was not merely an artistic tool, but a way of making sense of a prolonged inability of homecoming due to Castro’s repressive regime that prevails for over three decades. Studying social and cultural manifestations of nostalgia is essential to understand the process of immigration, integration, and formation of Cuban-American identity in XXI century in the United States. My work proposes an analysis of nostalgia as a metaphor of globalization and as a literary approach in the memoir Next Year in Cuba: A Cubano's Coming-Of-Age in America (1994) by Gustavo Perez-Firmat. The analysis is based on premises of Svetlana Boym proposed in The future of Nostalgia (2001) and in Fred Davis’s Yearning for Yesterday (1978), which help to evaluate the representations of nostalgia on individual and collective level.

The discussion explores nostalgia as primary catalyst that encourages Perez-Firmat to reconstruct homeland, culture, and identity through available symbols, traditions, memory, and repression after 30 years of life in exile. Moreover, I explore contemporary architectural reconstructions of old Havana in Miami, Florida, as nostalgic entities that impact Cubans residing in Miami. In addition, I portray diverse impact of nostalgia on two generations of Perez-Firmat’s family members, where homesickness appears as repression, strategy of survival, rebellion and countercultural practice. Finally, nostalgia emerges as a psychological filter capable of bridging loss and displacement generated by the Cuban exile and as a cognitive motor that maintains a sense of cultural hybridity in the society of residence.

Brief Bio Note

Lukasz Pawelek is an Instructor of Spanish at University of South Carolina Beaufort. He is a Doctoral Candidate at Wayne State University currently working on his dissertation. His current project explores the ways how Cuban memoir challenges and assimilates the representation of nostalgia as a metaphor of globalization.

Keywords

Nostalgia, Repression, Globalization, Memory, Exile, Autobiography

Location

Room 212

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-26-2015 10:30 AM

End Date

3-26-2015 11:45 AM

Embargo

5-23-2017

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Mar 26th, 10:30 AM Mar 26th, 11:45 AM

Nostalgia in Cuban Memoir: Connecting Memory, Repression and Home-Making

Room 212

For many displaced individuals from Cuba creative (re)thinking of nostalgia was not merely an artistic tool, but a way of making sense of a prolonged inability of homecoming due to Castro’s repressive regime that prevails for over three decades. Studying social and cultural manifestations of nostalgia is essential to understand the process of immigration, integration, and formation of Cuban-American identity in XXI century in the United States. My work proposes an analysis of nostalgia as a metaphor of globalization and as a literary approach in the memoir Next Year in Cuba: A Cubano's Coming-Of-Age in America (1994) by Gustavo Perez-Firmat. The analysis is based on premises of Svetlana Boym proposed in The future of Nostalgia (2001) and in Fred Davis’s Yearning for Yesterday (1978), which help to evaluate the representations of nostalgia on individual and collective level.

The discussion explores nostalgia as primary catalyst that encourages Perez-Firmat to reconstruct homeland, culture, and identity through available symbols, traditions, memory, and repression after 30 years of life in exile. Moreover, I explore contemporary architectural reconstructions of old Havana in Miami, Florida, as nostalgic entities that impact Cubans residing in Miami. In addition, I portray diverse impact of nostalgia on two generations of Perez-Firmat’s family members, where homesickness appears as repression, strategy of survival, rebellion and countercultural practice. Finally, nostalgia emerges as a psychological filter capable of bridging loss and displacement generated by the Cuban exile and as a cognitive motor that maintains a sense of cultural hybridity in the society of residence.