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Odette Casamayor-Cisneros

Associate Professor of Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Literatures and Cultures


1998-2002 Ph.D. Sciences du langage, option : Arts et littératures (Summa cum laude). École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales/School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS), Paris, France.

1996-1997 DEA (M.A.) Sciences du langage, option: Arts et littératures. École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris, France.

1995-1996 DESS Politique Culturelle. University of Bourgogne, Dijon/ UNESCO Paris, France.

1990-1995 B.A. Journalism. University of Havana, Cuba.



Areas of Expertise

-Twentieth-century and Contemporary Caribbean, Latin American and Latino Literatures, Cultures & Societies.

-Afro-diaspora and Blackness in the Americas (Cultural Studies).

- Revolutionary Ideals in Latin America: Ethical and Aesthetic Approaches.

- Cultural Studies in post-Cold War Latin America.

- Latino and Latin American Cinema.

- Cultural Approaches on Latino migration.

Contact Information



Focusing contemporary Cuba, my research projects are structured around two main subjects: Post-soviet Cuban culture and Cultural expressions of blackness since the triumph of the socialist revolution in 1959 to the present.

1) Cuban cultural production since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 is examined in my book Utopía, distopía e ingravidez: reconfiguraciones cosmológicas en la narrativa post-soviética cubana (Utopia, Dystopia and Ethical Weightlessness: Cosmological reconfigurations in post-Soviet Cuban Fiction), Editorial Iberoamericana-Vervuert, 2013. This book stresses, through the lens of literary production, the existential void experienced by Cubans after the collapse of the Socialist Bloc in the 1990s. By analyzing Cuban cultural production at the crossroad between the Third World culture (Latin American and Caribbean alleged conditions of “subalternity” and underdevelopment) and the Second World culture (shaped by the socialist experience), I study the island’s contemporary reality within a global context rather than centering on national problems and considering them as exceptional, which is the more common approach found in Cuban Studies. Sections of my book have been successfully published as academic articles. Some have had a significant impact, like “Guanajerías post-soviéticas: Apuntes ético-estéticos en torno al humor en la narrativa de Ena Lucía Portela”, awarded the 2009 “José Juan Arrom” National Prize of Literary Essay by the Union of Cuban Writers (one of the most important prizes on cultural criticism awarded to Cubans from the island and its diaspora).

2) I am currently preparing a new book manuscript, On Being Black: Racial Self-identification Processes in Post-Soviet Cuban Cultural Production. This is an ethical-aesthetic study of racial self-definition processes developed by contemporary black Cuban visual and performing artists, filmmakers, musicians and writers. Their works convey new images that counteract the prior invisibility of Blacks and blackness in revolutionary cultural production, and contest the ideal of a raceless national identity promoted by the socialist revolution since its triumph in 1959. These post-Soviet representations also differ from the images of black Cubans as subjects “liberated” and “humanized” by the revolution, struggling to become the virile, heterosexual, eurocentrist and powerful “New Man”, the model of the revolutionary hero that Che Guevara foretold in 1965. I also argue that the pervasiveness of racism, an apparently paradoxical phenomenon after 50 years of socialist rule that supposedly abolished all inequalities, is due to the fact that blackness has always been commonly considered as something exterior to an assumed “real” Cuban-ness.

My project has been originally sponsored by a 2005 Rockefeller Foundation fellowship as Visiting Research scholar at SUNY/Stony Brook. My first article on this topic, “Negros de papel. Algunas apariciones del negro en la narrativa cubana después de 1959”, received the 2003 “Juan Rulfo” International Essay Award in Paris. Portions of my research are available as chapter books and articles in peer-reviewed publications from Duke UP, Routledge, Vervuert, Gale and other prestigious academic publishers. My work is also included in Queloides: Race and Racism in Cuban Contemporary Art, book accompanying a groundbreaking exhibition presented in Havana, Pittsburgh, New York and Boston (2010-2012).