University spotlights Cuban studies for the remainder of semester

Ivan Ardila/Staff Writer

 Miami is quite a diverse city, and although people have migrated from a lot of different countries, there is no denying that a majority is of Cuban origin.

It’s no wonder then that at the University we have a Cuban Research Institute, a department dedicated to advancing Cuban and Cuban-American studies. Presently the CRI is heavily immersed in the exploration of the Cuban migration.

The University recently participated in a symposium dedicated to the discussion of how the Cuban communities in different countries compare to each other.

“I think it was the first of its kind because most of the research and teaching has focused on Cubans in the United States. We wanted to broaden the scope of the discussion to include other destinations for contemporary Cuban migrants,” said Jorge Duany, director of the CRI. He explained that it’s estimated that at least 300,000 Cubans live outside of Cuba and the United States. Places in Latin America, the Caribbean and Western Europe are some of the new destinations where the migration is happening now.

The CRI, however, isn’t nearly done arranging events of this nature for the remaining of the semester. From May 23 to 25, the CRI will be holding their ninth conference on Cuban and Cuban-American studies. The largest in the Institute’s history, the conference will take place in the Graham Center Ballroom and will consist of 45 panels and over 250 experts from United States and other countries. In this event, which will span from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., a broad array of socio-cultural, political and economic topics of the Cuban diaspora will be explored.

Duany considers these events as a tradition that he has been part of even before joining the FIU family where he has met scholars of different backgrounds and different ages that share the same interest on Cuba and the diaspora.

“This time around we’ll continue with that tradition because we have people who are very well established figure in the field as well as people finishing their graduate students and even undergraduate students presenting in the conference, so at least three generations of scholars will be part of this,” explained Duany.

“The migration is something that’s still going on, people are still migrating from Cuba, and so people should attend these kinds of event,” said Rubi Bravo, sophomore business major, who considers herself Cuban-American. “I’m a little bit of both… My rhythm is Cuban, but my habits are American,” said Bravo. “I don’t go out to Cuban club for example, but I act very much like a Cuban.”

Even though the conference has a focus in the Cuban diaspora, many of the panels and experts are going to be showcasing different aspects of the characteristics of the island. Duany also pointed out that literature, art and economy are only a few of the more varied studies to be presented through the event, making it also appealing to more casual attendees and people of no Cuban descent.

“I think it’s important to acknowledge the obviously large presence of the Cuban community and know more about them. Even if you’re not a part of it,” said Steiner Lukose, a sophomore accounting major of Indian background.

In conjunction to the three day conference is a film screening at 7:30 p.m. on May 24. After a second day of discussion, the attendees will be treated to  El Super (1979), a humorous look at the life of a Cuban family living and striving to succeed in the United States. “It is a classic film about Cubans in the United States,” said the director of the CRI, “I remember seeing it long long time ago, is a very funny, very moving film.” The screening will provide a nice a nice break from the discussion, but will also add a more clear perspective of what life in exile from Cuba is like and how it develops over time through generations.

A panel to discuss the film will be held after the credits roll down where the CRI expects to have the presence of some of the cast, the director and the writer whose play the movie is based on.

Both of these events are co-sponsored with the FIU African and African Diaspora Studies Program, Center for the Humanities in an Urban environment, exile studies Program, and WPBT2.

This is an opportunity for anyone interested in understanding the impact that the Cuban exodus has had in South Florida, The united States, and the World. For Cuban and Cuban-American people, This is a chance to learn more about their history and their current situation.

Attending the conference is free of charge for FIU students and faculty, for the general public a fee of $125 will be charged if pre-registered; On site registration, however, is $150. Non-FIU students will only pay  a $35 fee. For further information call (305) 348-191 or visit the Cuban Research Institute’s website: