I was excited to find out about Elzbieta Sklodowska’s Invento luego resisto: el Período Especial en Cuba como experiencia y metáfora (1990-2015) [I Invent, therefore I Resist: The Special Period in Cuba as Experience and Metaphor (1990-2015)], which was published by Cuarto Propio (Santiago de Chile) in 2016. The book explores the ways in which literature, art, and film in post-1991 Cuba reflect upon the dramatic changes experienced on the island after the collapse of the Soviet system. I am not sure how we missed it in 2016, but it is on the top on my “must read” list for the summer.
Description: The spirit of transience and improvisation that permeated daily existence during the Special Period in Cuba in the 1990s did not lend itself to the creation and preservation of objects of enduring quality and aesthetic value. And yet, the material archive of the Special Period is surprising in its diversity, ranging from extraordinary everyday artifacts (re)created by ordinary people intuitively following the premise of the “Three Rs”—“Reduce, Reuse and Recycle”—to works of art inspired by the fundamental strategy of bricolage, from visual testimonies (cartoons, photos) of the never-ending process of rethinking, reusing and reinventing, to the process of collecting and documenting these “rustic” inventions and transplanting them from Cuban households, streets, and farms into books, catalogues, and galleries. Invento luego resisto: el Período Especial en Cuba como experiencia y metáfora (1990-2015) [I Invent, therefore I Resist: The Special Period in Cuba as Experience and Metaphor 1990-2015] analyzes some of these “survivalist” products and strategies that grew out of extreme scarcity only to gain the resonance as compelling witnesses to Cuba’s most recent history and to the resilience of Cuban people.
Elzbieta Sklodowska is Randolph Family Professor of Spanish at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Her fields of interest include nineteenth- and twentieth-century Caribbean narrative; literary and cultural theory; Cuban narrative and culture; poetics and politics of memory; testimonial literature. She has published widely on topics pertaining to Spanish American literature (60 articles or book chapters), including Testimonio hispanoamericano: historia, teoría, poética; La parodia en la nueva novela hispanoamericana (1960-85); Todo ojos, todo oídos: control e insubordinación en la novela hispanoamericana (1895-1935); and Espectros y espejismos: Haití en el imaginario cubano.
For more information, see https://artsci.wustl.edu/books/articles/2016/invento-luego-resisto-el-periodo-especial-en-cuba-como-experiencia-y-metafora and http://www.cuartopropio.cl/index.php/9-prensa/195-invento-luego-resisto-el-periodo-especial-en-cuba-como-experiencia-y-metafora-1990-2015
For more on the author, see https://rll.wustl.edu/people/sklodowska