An exploration of nationalist narratives and poetic agency on the road across Cuba
This master’s thesis investigates the role of language and expression in normalizing structural violence in Cuba and the capacity of poets to change these structures. Cuba’s nationalist narratives are examined from the top-down, while the capacity of Cuban poets to lead social change and political transition is explored from the bottom-up. Fieldwork for data collection took place in May and June 2019, through the means of a 1100-kilometer bicycle tour across Cuba. During this time, interviews were conducted with members of Cuba’s cultural institutions and artistic community. In addition to interviews, secondary data consisting of documents, speeches, poetry, and artwork, are analyzed within a theoretical framework built on narrative theory and also, hermeneutics, as stories are interpreted through processes of comprehension and appropriation. Additionally, critical discourse analysis is employed as this research explores the power of language and expression within Cuba’s political and social contexts. The first part of data analysis investigates the ways in which nationalist narratives form notions of identity and cultural memory. This leads into an exploration of how narratives are used to legitimize Fidel Castro’s illiberal regime, by consolidating its representations of history, heroes and martyrs, and hate speech. The second chapter of data analysis examines the role of Cuban writers, as intellectuals working from the bottom-up within the framework of a repressive emic environment, that defines their challenges and opportunities today. Furthermore, the agency of Cuban writers and the social influence of their artistic expression, are analyzed through the activity of three poets: Heberto Padilla, Carilda Oliver Labra, and Nicolás Guillén. Also, the investigation of two cultural institutions, the Union of Cuban writers and artists (UNEAC) and the youth organization, Asociación Hermanos Saíz (AHS), both fundamental spaces of artistic production, will illustrate where and how the potential for individual agency manifests itself in Cuban communities. The significance of language and expression, utilized to further an illiberal regime, yet fundamental to the influential creation of Cuban poets, will unveil the spaces in which these forces meet from above and below. For it is in these spaces, that an understanding of everyday conflict through structural violence, and a progression towards peace, may be explored.
PublisherUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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Copyright 2020 The Author(s)
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