CASA Cuba: Program of Study

Students  may enroll in a prescribed program of study through the Cuba study center, consisting of four credit-bearing courses, each of which meet for a total of 60 hours.

Cuban Public Health Past and Present
In the decades since the success of the 1959 Cuban Revolution, the tiny island has gained a global reputation for its pioneering health system. Although Cuba’s GDP is only a fraction of its northern neighbor’s, the island boasts a lower infant mortality rate than the U.S., and has among the highest life expectancies and doctor- patient ratios in the world. In recent years, Cuba’s “medial internationalists” – medical workers sent overseas to help shore up other countries’ health systems or combat new disease outbreaks – have also gained widespread acclaim. What factors account for the seemingly outsized importance of medicine and public health under the Cuban Revolution? What can the study of public health and medicine tell us about broader themes in Cuban history? This course is designed to introduce students to the history of public health and medicine in Cuba. Taking a long historical approach, this course explores both the development of medicine in colonial and early post-independence Cuba as well as recent innovations in Cuban medical care and pubic health systems. Some topics that students will explore include: the relationship between slavery and medicine in colonial Cuba; the nationalist politics of health in republican and revolutionary Cuba; popular medicine and its relationship to biomedical ideas; and Cuba’s controversial yet successful fight against HIV/AIDS.

Cultural History of Cuba
This course examines the moments in the history of Cuba that have been key to its national and cultural formation, focusing on the most important aspects of its history, including its social composition, architecture, religion and popular traditions.  The concepts of nation and culture, and the country’s notions of identity, idiosyncracies and Cuban identity will be reviewed by the instructors from a variety of perspectives.  Beginning with a review of the principal events of the colonial and republican periods and leading up to the Revolution, the course will focus on those elements that have come to define Cuba in the last 20 years, including its economic development, international relations, social changes and generational conflicts.  As a complement to the lectures, students will read a variety of carefully selected Spanish texts, observe audiovisual offerings, observe “in situ” locations of historical and patrimonial importance, visit museums and exchange ideas with specialists on these topics.  Field visits associated with the course include the cities of Baracoa, Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Trinidad, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara and Mantanzas.   

Gender, Race, and Inequalities in Cuba: Visions from Cuban Scholars
For more than half a century scholars, journalists and artists from all over the world and basically from the United States have intensely explored Cuba, and their visions have been widely spread by the “mainstream media”. But although Cuban social scientists living in the island have produced their studies while experiencing and being part of the transformations that started in 1959, their works have been scarcely published outside of Cuba. This program summarizes recent studies produced by Cuban scholars on three of the most relevant challenges to eliminate discrimination in society: gender, race, and inequalities. Although the works refer to historical events explaining the evolution of the present situation in each of these topics, they will basically focus on case studies elaborated since the crisis and reforms of the 90´s in Cuba – following the disappearance of the Soviet Union and the Eastern European socialist countries as well as the strengthening of the US embargo/blockade on Cuba. 

21st Century Cuban and Latin American Literatures
The Latin American “boom” resulted in an unprecedented revolution in Spanish language literature.  The eyes of the world turned to a production of novels and stories by a group of authors who began publishing in the 1960s and constituted (and may continue to constitute) the literary version of “Greenwich mean time.” In this course, we will explore the directions taken by Latin American literature after the boom and focus on the literary production of younger authors, particularly those who began publishing in the the 21st century.  We will explore their many themes, esthetics, continuities and disruptions.