Center for Global Education [CGE]
January 2 -17, 2000
Prof. Rei Berroa (   
History 387:
Topics in Global History *
Government 490:
Seminar: Cuba/US Relations *
Spanish 323: 
Field Study in Hispanic Culture *
* See GMU description of these courses at the end of this site
This 15-day study tour of Cuba provides students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit, study, compare and analize the only Communist regime in the hemisphere. Birthplace of Santería and many musical rythms (salsa, son, cha,cha,cha, among others), Cuba's history, culture, and politics have always been of particular interest not only to Europe, but to other countries in this hemisphere, in particular, the United States. Through a series of on-site visits and performances, but especially through lectures by professors from the University of Havana and the Center for the Study of the United States in Havana, this tour will provide a comprehensive introduction to Cuba's rich cultural heritage, controversial political history, and fascinating survival strategies.

It is thought that the first humans arriving to Cuba came from South America around 3500 B.C. They were fishermen and hunter-gatherers Taínos, who were later joined by agriculturalists Arawak Indians and by a few somewhat agressive Caribe tribes. They occupied different sections of the island when Columbus "discovered" it on 27 October 1492 on his first voyage to the "new world." The island played a key role in the early years of the Spanish colonial empire, including the Cortés' expedition to México, which established Cuba as Spain's gateway to both North and South America. When the encomienda system was abolished in 1542 (by which the Indians were enslaved under the pretext of "religious" instruction), African slave-laborers were brought to the island. Unlike the North American slave trade, Cuba's African slaves were kept together in their tribal groups and so certain aspects of their different cultures were able to survive. In 1762, the British occupied the island, increasing the number of slaves by 4,000 and changing the main cash crop for the island from cattle and bovine products to sugar. By 1820, Cuba had become a major hub of the Atlantic slave trade, out of which emerged a multi-racial society and a complex culture based on European and African traditions. This study tour will not only visit monuments, plazas, churches and neighborhoods in the 500 year-old capital city of Havana, but will also travel to several smaller towns and rural areas in western and central Cuba, exposing participants to contemporary Cuban art, music, religion and daily life in this controversial nation. Participants will also gain insight into slavery and emancipation in the island's long struggle against imperialism, and the origins and characteristics of the 1959 revolution, an event whose political, social and cultural impact extended far beyond the island itself. Upon their return, students will write a research paper that would grow out of interests developed before and during the trip.
Rei Berroa (Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh), Associate Professor in 20th Century Spanish Culture & Literature, George Mason University. Professor Berroa is the author of Ideología y retórica (México: Editorial Libros de México, 1988) and has taught, lectured, and published works on the relation between literature, culture, and politics in Spain and Latin America. A native of the Dominican Republic, Professor Berroa has led GMU academic tours in México (1985), Spain (1989-91; 1995-97; 1999) and Costa Rica (1996).
Leslie Bethell, ed., Cuba: A Short History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993). This is a collection of four essays taken from The Cambridge History of Latin America edited by the same author. The book traces the political, economic and social development of Cuba from the middle of the eighteenth century to the current challenges faced by Castro's Cuba in the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse. It provides a solid introduction to Cuba's history from 1750 to the 1990s. This book will be available at the GMU bookstore in the Johnson Center.

Jaime Suchlicki, Cuba: From Columbus to Castro and Beyond (Washington, DC: Breassey's, 1997). A newly revised and updated version of Cuba: From Columbus to Castro (New York: Scribner, 1974), this carefully researched and written book offers an outstanding analysis of the many miscalculations made by people on the Cuban issue. It chronicles the colorful history and rich cultural heritage of the island nation from the Spanish arrival and rule to Batista to Fidel, paying special attention to the causes, evolution and direction of the Castro government after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This book too will be available at the GMU bookstore.
1. Before leaving for Cuba, participants must read Bethell's Cuba: A Short History or Suchlicki's Cuba: From Columbus to Castro and Beyond. Everyone must write a brief predeparture paper (1200 words) discussing some central aspect of Cuban cultural, economic, or political history. Possible topics include: economic dependence, slavery and its legacy, relations with outside powers (Spain and the US), poverty and income distribution, health and education, political practices and elections. Regardless of which topic you choose, your paper must examine a period of Cuban history, politics or culture (depending on the credit for which you are applying). Accordingly, you must draw on at least two of the four essays on Bethell's book or three of the chapters on Suchlicki's work.  Also before leaving, every participant must see the film The  Buena Vista Social Club by German filmmaker Wim Wenders which will be discussed at the final predeparture orientation.

2. Attendance is mandatory at all group events during the trip. In addition, we will hold daily breakfast meetings in order to discuss the events of the preceding day and open up the issues of the day . Active participation in these discussions is essential.

3. While in Cuba, students must keep a journal, which will be collected at different points during the trip. Journal entries are intended as an opportunity for students to think through both the material presented on lectures and first hand observations. As a compendium of your first impressions on, responses to, and ideas about the Cuban reality, the journal will be an important resource in the writing of your final paper.

4. Upon returning from Cuba, students must write a research paper on one of the topics suggested in the attached bibliography or any other you have agreed with your advisor or with me. Undergraduates must select and read two of the recommended books and two articles searched on their own and their final paper should be about 2500 words (8-10 pages). [If graduate students were to participate in this program, they must read at least three books and three articles and their paper should be about 3500 words (14-16 pages)]. The university requires that grades should be at the registrar's office four weeks after the tour.  Thus your papers should be in my hands no later than Monday, February 14.
Students will be graded on a scale from A to F. Grades will be determined as follows:

         Initial Paper-15%

         Journal and participation in group discussions - 35%

         Final Paper-50%
SCHEDULE AND DUE DATES [tentative; check for date changes]
12/04/99            General Winter Study Abroad Program Orientation: Health, Safety, etc.
                          General information about strategies for our trip.  Johnson Center Cinema, GMU [9:00 am -2:00 pm]

12/18/99           Final Orientation.  Discussion of The Buena Vista Social Club [place TBA]
                         Predeparture research papers due

1/2/00               Departure

1/17/00             Return to the US.
                         Final paper topic statements due before getting off the plane

2/14/00             Final papers due
January 2, 3, 4, 5
Havana. In the City of Havana, which has been declared a "World Heritage Site" by the United Nations, we will visit important historical and political sites, including the Castillo del Morro, the Fortaleza de la Cabaña, the Partagas cigar factory, and the Museo de la Revolución. Havana became the capital of Cuba in 1589, substituting Santiago, the capital since 1514. Our study begins at the political and military center of Old Havana: Plaza de Armas, which, along with the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, the Palacio del Segundo Cabo, the Templete, and other significant Baroque and Neoclassical buildings, constitute the oldest and best preserved architectonic jewels of the city. The Palacio de los Capitanes is now the Museum of the City, whose collections of paintings, antiques, uniforms and documents about the history of Havana, we will explore. Among the many curious artifacts in the museum is La Giraldilla, a bronze statue representing Inés de Bobadilla, the only governess of Cuba, who took her husband's place when the latter (Hernando de Soto) left the country to explore Florida in 1539. We will study the laying out of the city with an architect from the University of Havana and spend time at Plaza de la Catedral and the buildings around it. A lecture on José Martí's intellectual titanic figure will lead us to the house where he grew up. A visit to the Capitol building, now Science Museum, will give us insight into the development of the sciences in Cuba (hope to get a member from the Academy of Sciences to lecture on the development of scientific thought in Cuba). We will invite students and faculty members to this event. Leaving Havana, we will travel to the town of Regla, where there is a church associated with Yemella. There we will visit with a community of Yoruba heritage to participate in a presentation of music and ritual. We will stop in the small village of Limonar and visit a Cabildo founded in 1894 that honors Shangó/Santa Barbara.

January 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Beginning in Matanzas, an important port city and an area rich in African traditions, we will travel to Jovellanos an 18th century palenque (refuge for self liberated slaves). Here we will visit with an extended family of Arará heritage who follow Regla de Ocha. In nearby villages, participants will continue the exploration of the AfroCuban religion created in the island by peoples associated with the Lucumi tradition of the African Atlantic slave trade. We will visit a modest ceramics studio and meet with the artist. Through the Office of the Dean of Afro-Cuban Studies at the University of Matanzas, we will try  to attend private performances on different evenings by the Muñequitos de Matanzas and the Afro-Cuban Folkloric Ensemble and will attend a reception with regional artists at their studios. On our way to the famous Varadero beach, we will stop at Neptune's Cave, which, with its underground lagoon, stalactites and stalagmites, is the largest cave of the Caribbean and shows clear evidence of Indian occupation. It was also used as a secret hospital during the war of independence. An area scholar will lecture on slave rebellions in the region.

January 9, 10, 11, 12
We will travel to Trinidad, one of the seven founding cities of Cuba (perhaps the best preserved of them all) and a UNESCO World Heritage City. Founded by Diego Velázquez in 1514, it was from here that Cortés embarked on his expedition to conquer México with 600 men. There, we will visit the historical museums of the city and the Kongo Cabildo de Congos Reales originally founded in 1787. Cabildos were the social community organizations permitted by the Spanish slavery system but transformed into cultural shrines by Afro-Cuban slaves using west African identity understandings of "nation". We will attend a private dance and percussion demonstration. We have requested to visit the burial "cave" of the last king of the cabildo who was buried there in 1923 with his drums. Trinidad's early wealth came from the sugar estates established during the 17th century on the rolling land in the nearby "Valley of the Sugar Mills." This area is the largest industrial archeological site in the Caribbean. We will explore the valley and visit a restored 18th century sugar estate with an area archeologist. An area scholar will also lecture on the social history of the sugar plantations. Living Trinidad, we will stop in Santa Clara, site of the last and definitive battle of the Revolution, where Che Guevara and his men captured an armored troop train and subsequently the city.

January 12, 13, 14
Pinar del Río is the capital of Cuba's most western province of the same name. Traveling west we will climb up into the San Rosario Mountains where we will visit with members of an agricultural cooperative and hike through a section of World Biosphere Preserve, if possible, with a representative from the Ministry of Science and the Environment (not yet confirmed ). In these relatively isolated villages we will explore Toque-Yuka and Toque-Kinfuiti, both of these are toques de tambor which are unique to Cuba. We will also visit another tobacco factory: the Donatien, and compare their artistry with the Partagas' in Havana.

January 14, 15, 16, 17
Havana. More visits to the city with two hours of daily lectures on the main figures of Cuban literature and culture: Martí, Maceo, Carpentier, Lezama Lima, and Cabrera Infante. January 15-16, we will go to the University of Havana, where two professors from the institution will lecture on Cuban history and political systems. An open debate on virtues and vices of socialism and capitalism is scheduled in the morning of the 15th of January at the Center for the Study of the United States at the University of Havana. We are also trying to attend a baseball game with a lecture on the sociology of leisure time in Cuba given (perhaps) by Dr. Jorge Hernández , Director of the Center, with whom we have been in contact to prepare this itinerary.
Regardless of which topic you choose for your paper, here are a few helpful reading suggestions:

Hugh Thomas, Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom. New York : Harper & Row, 1971. Although the information in this book stops in 1970, it is a classical work of monumental research. Without doubt the most complete study on Cuba ever attempted.

Louis A. Pérez, Cuba: Between Reform and Revolution. New York: Oxford Univ. Press,1995. Traces the socio-political chronology of Cuba from Pre-Columbian times to present day Cuba.

Donald E. Schultz, ed.,Cuba and the Future. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994. This book contains 11 articles dealing with today's Cuba and its possibilities for the future.

Cuban Studies, a journal published by the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Pittsburgh appears once or twice a year. It should be a good source of information on Cuban issues, although most of their articles, published in Spanish, deal with literary and cultural issues.

To get a general picture of Cuban history, it would be much to your advantage to check the following site prepared by Rock Around  The Blockade, a socialist group from the United Kingdom, where several authors have written articles on the history of Cuba:

1. Sugar, Slavery and Emancipation
Laird W. Bergad, Cuban Rural Society in the Nineteenth Century: The Social and Economic History of Monoculture in Matanzas (Princeton, 1990). Rebecca Scott, Slave Emancipation in Cuba: The Transition to Free Labor, 1860-1899 (Princeton, 1985). Franklin Knight, Slave Society in Cuba during the Nineteenth Century (Madison, 1970). Esteban Montejo, The Autobiography ofa Runaway Slave (New York, 1968). David Murray, Odious Commerce: Britain, Spain and the Abolition of the Cuban Slave Trade (Cambridge, 1980). Verena Mattnez-Alier, Marriage, Class and Colour in Nineteenth-Century Cuba: A Study of Racial Attitudes and Sexual Values in a Slave Society. Miguel Barnet, Biography of a Runaway Slave (Curbstone Press, 1994).

2. Culture & Race in Cuba
Pedro Pérez Sarduy and Jean Stubbs, eds., Afro-Cuba: An Anthology of Cuban Writing on Race, Politics and Culture (Melbourne, 1993). Robin D. Moore, Nationalizing Blackness: Afro- cubanismo and Artistic Revolution in Havana, 1920-1940 (Pittsburgh, 1997). Lorna V. Williams, The representation of slavery in Cuban fiction (Columbia, MI : University of Missouri Press, 1994).  Vera M. Kutzinski, Sugar's secrets : race and the erotics of Cuban nationalism (Charlottesville, VA : University Press of Virginia, 1993). Catherine Davies, A place in the sun? : women writers in Twentieth-century Cuba (London  & New Jersey: Zed Books, 1997).

3. The Struggle for Independence and Cuban Anti-Imperialism
Louis A. Pérez, Cuba Between Empires, 1878-1902 (Pittsburgh, 1983). Christopher Abel and Nissa Torrents, José Martí: Revolutionary Democrat. London: Athlone, 1986. Rosalie Schwartz, Lawless Liberators: Political Banditry and Cuban Independence (Durham: Duke University Press, 1989). David F. Mealy, The United States in Cuba: 1898-1902 (Madison, 1963).

4. The Origins and Triumphs of the Cuban Revolution
Louis A. Pérez, Cuba under the Platt Amendment, 1902-1934 (Pittsburgh, 1986). Jules R. Benjamin, The United States and the Origins of the Cuban Revolution: An Empire of Liberty in an Age of National Liberation (Princeton, 1990). Ramón L. Bonachea and MartaSan Martín, The Cuban Insurrection, 1952-1959 (New Brunswick, 1972). Luis E. Aguilar, Cuba 1933: Prologue to Revolution(Ithaca, 1972). Samuel Farber, Revolution and Reaction in Cuba, 1933-1960 (Middletown, 1976). Tad Szulc, Fidel: A Critical Portrait (New York, 1986). Jorge Castañeda, Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara (New York, 1997). Phillip Brenner, et al, eds., The Cuba Reader: The Making of a Revolutionary Society (New York, 1989).

5. The Impact and Development of the Revolution
Tad Szulc, Fidel: A Critical Portrait (New York, 1986). Jorge Castañeda,Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara (New York, 1997). Susan Eckstein, Back from the Future (Princeton, 1994). Jorge Domínguez, Cuba: Order and Revolution (Cambridge, 1978). Juan del Aguila, Cuba: Dilemmas of a Revolution (Boulder, 1984). Max Micri, Cuba: Politics, Economics and Society (London, 1988). Phillip Brenner, et al, eds., The Cuba Reader: The Making of Revolutionary Society (New York, 1989). John M. Kirk, Between God and the Party: Religion and Politics in Revolutionary Cuba (Gainesville, 1989).

6. The United States and Cuba
Louis A. Pérez, Cuba under the Platt Amendment, 1902-1934 (Pittsburgh, 1986). Jules R. Benjamin, The United States and the Origins of the Cuban Revolution: An Empire of Liberty in an Age of National Liberation (Princeton, 1990). Jorge Domínguez and Rafael Fernández, US-Cuban Relations in the 1990's (Boulder, 1989). Wayne S. Smith, The Closest of Enemies (New York, 1987). Louis A. Pérez, Ties of Singular Intimacy (Athens, 1990).

History 387: Topics in Global History: (3:3:0). Study of historical topics or periods of special interest in global, Latin American, African, Asian, or Middle Eastern history. Topics announced in advance. May be repeated for credit when topic is different. 
Government 490: Seminar: Cuba / US Relations (1-3:3:0). Prerequisite: Open to Public and International Affairs majors with 60 credits. May be repeated for credit. Course can be one, two, or three credits.  Subject varies. Readings, individual or group projects, and discussions of seminar papers constitute the content and format. 
Spanish 323: Field Study in Hispanic Culture (1-3:6:0).  Prerequisite: 60 credits or permission of instructor. Study tour to an area of the Spanish-speaking world. Students must attend a series of lectures before the tour and must consult with the designated faculty member on a research project on a topic in Hispanic culture resulting in a paper or report.