Panel Discussion: Race and Art in Contemporary Cuba

As part of the Cuban Arts Initiative, the Bildner Center/Cuba Project is sponsoring the panel discussion “Race and Art in Contemporary Cuba” with Tomás Fernández Robaina, Alejandro de la Fuente, and Odette Casamayor Cisneros on Thursday, February 17, 2011, at 4:00pm, at The Graduate Center, Rooms 9206/9207, at 365 Fifth Avenue (and 34th Street).

The panel discussion, which will be conducted in Spanish, will explore issues of race and art in contemporary Cuba. Alejandro de la Fuente, curator of the exhibit “Queloides,” and Odette Casamayor Cisneros will be discussing race and racism in contemporary Cuban art, focusing on historical perspectives as well as the process of racial identification in plastic arts. Tomás Fernández Robaina will join in the discussion with an overview of La Cofradía de la Negritud.

Tomás Fernández Robaina (Biblioteca Nacional de Cuba “José Martí”) is a leading Cuban scholar whose research focuses on Afro-Cuban culture and history. His publications include El negro en Cuba: Apuntes para la lucha contra la discriminación racial en Cuba 1902-1958 (1990), Hablen paleros y santeros (1994), Historias de mujeres públicas (1998), Cuba: personalidades en el debate racial (2007), Identidad afrocubana: cultura y nacionalidad (2009), and most recently, Misa para un ángel (2010), a novel based on the life of Reinaldo Arenas.

Alejandro de la Fuente is UCIS Research Professor of History and Latin American Studies at the University of Pttsburgh. He is the author of A Nation for All: Race, Inequality and Politics in Twentieth-Century Cuba (2001), and of Havana and the Atlantic in the Sixteenth Century (2009). He is also, along with Elio RodrÍguez, the curator of Queloides, an art exhibit that seeks to contribute to current debates about race and the persistence of racism in contemporary Cuba and elsewhere in the world.

Odette Casamayor Cisneros is Assistant Professor of Spanish and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies at the University of Connecticut-Storrs. She is currently writing a book on Cuban Post-Soviet Literature, and is also working on a second book project that focuses on new representations of blackness in contemporary Caribbean cultures. She recently published the articles “Confrontation and Occurrence: Ethical-Esthetic Expressions of Blackness in Post-Soviet Cuba,” and “Between Orishas and Revolution: The Expression of Racial Inequalities in Post-Soviet Cuba.” Her article, “Negros de papel: Algunas apariciones del negro en la narrativa cubana después de 1959” received the Prize Juan Rulfo in Paris in 2003.

Photo: René Peña’s “Samurai,” from the Queloides exhibition; for more information, see

Also see previous post Art Exhibition: Race and Racism in Cuban Contemporary Art (Queloides II)

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