Ruins of Utopia: Trauma in Post-Soviet Cuban Culture and Literature | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online


In numerous studies of contemporary Cuban literature and culture, it is common to find the adjective “traumatic” or the expression “traumatic experience” to describe the socioeconomic changes and the impact they had on the Cuban population after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and, by extension, the Comecon, in 1991. The loss of the market in Eastern Europe meant, along with the commercial blockade of the United States, the beginning of a deep crisis that would mark — like any traumatic experience — a before and after in the country. Consequently, the foundations of the Soviet points of reference on which the Revolution had risen also faltered, which caused the ideological model crisis. In my study, I consider the arrival of the Special Period as a traumatic event that led the community to a borderline situation. The focus of the investigation is to analyze how traumatic events of recent Cuban history (the Mariel exodus, the Angolan war, the Special Period, the Balsero crisis) have been represented in literature and culture. The study of Cuban literature and culture from the perspective of trauma allows focusing on the subjective experiences and emotions of the community, thus integrating the different visions and the multiplicity of discourses about Cuban identity and the complex mechanisms that operate in the recovery process — or reinterpretation — of the nation’s historical memory, while the theoretical framework developed may open the path for new lines of research for the study of culture in post-communist regimes.


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