Cuba Scholars Respond to the Death of Fidel Castro

The death of Fidel Castro marks the end of an era. There are no simple obituaries for this man in American media; indeed, there is no way to talk about him in American culture without thinking critically about his role in history, his political power, and his relationship to the United States. Here, we share the perspectives of some of the historians of Cuba published by UNC Press who have been called on by the media to respond to this historical moment.

Obama Lands in Cuba

With his arrival in Cuba yesterday, President Barack Obama has become the first sitting U.S. president to visit the island nation since 1928. This three-day trip is just one step in the major shift under the Obama administration to begin to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. For insightful historical perspective on what this trip means, we check in with some UNC Press authors who are providing helpful analysis.

Christina D. Abreu: Cuban Women Singers and the Mid-Twentieth Century Latin Music Scene, or, Celia and Graciela

Often overlooked in studies of Cuban musicians during the golden age of Latin popular music in the United States are the contributions of Afro-Cuban women singers. Two of the most prominent performers during the1940s and1950s were Graciela Pérez Grillo, lead singer for Machito y sus Afro-Cubans, and Celia Cruz, lead singer for La Sonora Matancera.

Richard Schweid: Will Warming U.S.-Cuba Relations Reveal More Classic Car Treasures on the Island?

One thing a détente between the U.S. and Cuba will do is reveal the truth or falsehood of an urban myth in Havana, which holds that numerous pristine 1950s Detroit models are stored in secret garages across the city.

Christina D. Abreu: In Honor of Professor Juan Flores

Criticism and embrace of identity terms like “Hispanic” and “Latino/a” have been longstanding in the field of Latino/a Studies. Puerto Ricans, Flores argued, share more in common with African Americans than with other Latino/a groups. He contended that Puerto Ricans and African Americans experience similar forms of racial and ethnic subordination in the United States because of parallels in their location in urban areas, their socioeconomic status, and their position as colonized subjects of the same nation-state.

Essential Background Reading on Cuba from UNC Press

In light of the sea change in U.S.-Cuban relations, I am delighted to recommend two books to anyone who wants to get up to speed: On Becoming Cuban: Identity, Nationality, and Culture, by Louis A. Pérez Jr., and Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana, by William LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh.

Tiffany A. Sippial: Cuba’s New Economic Policies: Event Horizon or Business as Usual?

In my opinion, the most interesting topic for discussion is not that Cubans are finally embracing private enterprise, but rather that the new legislation will surely change the existing face of private enterprise on the island. Talk to Cubans about the new business, property, and internet reform measures and you are less likely to hear them marveling at the wonders of capitalism than to hear them debate the variety of state-imposed taxes that often leave them with only a few CUC (Cuban Convertible Pesos that carry a 1:1 exchange rate with the U.S. dollar) at the end of each month.

Tiffany A. Sippial: The 26th of July Movement: Remembering Failure, Celebrating Victory

Not only were the rebels young (“just like us” my students find themselves saying), but they actually failed. Government snipers shot many of the young rebels on sight, and those who survived were charged with treason and imprisoned on the Isle of Pines. In a surprising plot twist, however, the audacious Cuban rebels recast their military failure as a propaganda victory by claiming the date of the attack as the name of their movement—the 26th of July Movement (M-26-7).

Award-winning books from UNC Press (updated)

We are honored and delighted to share the news of some of our most recent award-winning books. Hope you’ll join us in congratulating these fine authors. And you may want to consider using some of these books in your classroom or kitchen. Click the cover images or book titles to go to the book page …

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New Omnibus E-Book: The Louis A. Pérez Jr. Cuba Trilogy

Louis A. Pérez Jr. is one of the most influential historians of Cuba. Available for the first time as an Omnibus Ebook edition, this three-volume set brings together three of Pérez’s most acclaimed works on Cuba and its relations to the United States, all bundled into one convenient ebook.

Carrie Hamilton: Sexual Diversity in Cuba

It would be a mistake to say that Cuba’s revolutionary leaders came clean on the history of anti-homosexual discrimination and violence. But there were public signs of a willingness to revisit that history in a new light. The most famous example was the 1993 release of the film ‘Strawberry and Chocolate,’ by Cuba’s most prominent film director, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, a friend and ally of Fidel Castro.

Carrie Hamilton: New Cuban Women

At first glance, the stories of Cuban women in heterosexual relationships seem to confirm clichés about the island’s machismo. But interviews with other men and women tell a subtler story. They show that the Revolution has changed gender relations, even if some patterns are hard to break.

A UNC Press Reading List to Accompany the PBS series “Black in Latin America”

The UNC Press reading list to accompany Henry Louis Gates Jr’s PBS documentary series “Black in Latin America.”

Cuba Scholar Lou Perez Says End the Embargo

Renowned scholar of Cuba Louis A. Perez Jr. makes the case at for an end to the failed U.S. policy of embargo against Cuba. He begins: In April 2009, the White House released a presidential memorandum declaring that democracy and human rights in Cuba were “national interests of the United States.” Assistant Secretary of …

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WATCH: Harlem Book Fair Panel – “Can We Tell the Truth about the Black Past?”

Earlier this month the 12th annual Harlem Book Fair hosted a panel that included UNC Press authors Frank A. Guridy and Stephen Gillroy Hall. A video of the discussion, called “Can We Tell the Truth About the Black Past?”, is available through C-SPAN’s Book TV, which can be viewed here. Guridy is the author of …

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Authors speak: interviews, op-eds, and more

We’ve got several authors out there making appearances online in various forms. If you’ve missed some of the live appearances in this busy spring, take a moment to follow-up virtually. In history… Russell McClintock, author of Lincoln and the Decision for War, was interviewed recently by Michael Noirot over at This Mighty Scourge. An excerpt …

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Upcoming events, 4/21 – 4/27

New York, NY – Today! Tuesday 4/21 at 6 pm – Ann Marie Stock, author of On Location in Cuba: Street Filmmaking during Times of Transition (hot off the press!), will be speaking at the Havana Film Festival at the King Juan Carlos Center. Raleigh, NC – Wed., 4/22 at 11 am – Rob Christensen, …

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Busy week – check out these events

If you’re in NC, you’ve got a couple chances to catch up with our busily touring authors this week. Tonight!!, Tuesday, March 24: Nancy Carter Crump, reception @ 5 pm, reading @ 5:45pm, Wilson Library UNC-CH. The author of Hearthside Cooking will be featured as part of the Southern Historical Collection Book Series, featuring authors …

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Louis Perez is named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Louis A. Pérez Jr., a leading American scholar of Cuba and author of many prizewinning books on Cuban history — including his five most recent books published proudly by UNC Press — was celebrated by colleagues, friends, and family last month on his induction into the 2008 class of Fellows of the American Academy of …

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UNCP books now available in small doses through DailyLit

It’s an old idea that now has a very modern twist, like a newspaper serial for the 21st century. . . . Want to read a book but don’t have large blocks of time for settling in and curling up? We’ve found a solution for you with DailyLit — the first e-book vendor to send …

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