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Pedro Perez Sarduy's novel, "The Maids of Havana."

Historian, poet explores Black Cuban life

TAMPA, Fla. -- Cigars and maids may not have much in common, but Havana is the connection when British historian Jean Stubbs and Cuban author and journalist Pedro Perez Sarduy team up for a presentation at the University of South Florida April 14 at 4:30 at the Patel Center for Global Solutions building, room 136.

This event, presented by the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean (ISLAC), is free and open to the public.

The Cuban cigar’s international dimension captured Stubbs’ imagination on her first visit to Tampa 25 years ago and has led her on an exotic journey ever since. Her talk, “The Havana Cigar Goes Global,” will explore visually the people, places and politics swirling around this commodity of great fascination and controversy, which takes in her research on émigré Cubans across the Americas and globally.

Sarduy’s novel, “The Maids of Havana,” recently translated into English, drew on the experiences of his mother, a maid in pre-revolutionary Havana, to provide an unprecedented look into Black Cuban life and follows it through into the Cuban disaspora via the fictional experiences of a young Afro-Cuban woman in post-1980s Florida. He will present a slide show and sign copies of his book, which will be for sale.

“We are so fortunate to have these two eminent scholars -- who happen to be married -- available to talk about aspects of Cuba that are endlessly fascinating and about which there is so much more to know,” said ISLAC Director Rachel May. “They travel extensively and are only in Florida and the U.S. for a brief time. Tampa’s connection to cigars and Cubans of African descent makes this the perfect place for this event.”

Stubbs is the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies Bacardi Family Eminent Scholar for Spring 2011, Associate Fellow at the Institute for the Study of the Americas at the University of London and Professor Emerita of Caribbean History at London Metropolitan University, where she was the founding director for the Caribbean Studies Center. She was awarded the UNESCO Toussaint L’Ouverture Medal for outstanding achievement in combating racism in political, literary and artistic fields in 2009.

Stubbs’ publications include “Afro-Cuban Voices: On Race and Identity in Contemporary Cuba,” “AFROCUBA: An Anthology of Cuban Writing on Race, Politics and Culture”, “Cuba,” “Cuba: the Test of Time, and Tobacco on the Periphery: A Case Study in Cuban Labour History, l860-1958.” She is engaged in collaborative research on the new Cuban Diaspora in Canada and Western Europe with Catherine Krull, and also co-editing with her the themed women and gender special issue of “Cuban Studies” out this year.

An award-winning poet, anthologies of Sarduy’s work include “Surrealidad, Cumbite and Other Poems,” and “Malecon Siglo XX.” He also co-edited “AFROCUBA and Afro-Cuban Voices, on Race and Identity in Contemporary Cuba,” based on interviews with Black Cubans currently living and working in the island. He is a recipient of the 2009 Victor Hugo UNESCO medal for his contribution to the protection and promotion of the rights of men and women and the oppressed. Sarduy currently works as a consultant and co-producer for documentary films and Caribbean music recordings in the United Kingdom and France and is completing “Journal in Babylon,” a series of chronicles on Britain.


Filed under:Arts and Sciences Institute for the Study of Latin American and the Caribbean (ISLAC) Events   
Author: Barbara Melendez