The Scroll and the Revolution: The Dilemmas of Writing about the Jews of Cuba


Friday, April 12, 2019, 12:00pm to 1:45pm


CGIS South, S216, 1730 Cambridge Street

Behar ImageSpeaker: Ruth Behar, University of Michigan

Moderator: Alejandro de la Fuente, Robert Woods Bliss Professor of Latin American History and Economics, Professor of African and African American Studies and of History at Harvard University; Director, Afro-Latin American Research Institute, Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard

Although a miniature community of a thousand people, the Jews of Cuba have attracted wide attention for choosing to shoulder the responsibility of safeguarding the Jewish legacy. I will address the contradictions surrounding Cuba's Jews on the island as they forge a path between the scroll and the revolution, between Jewishness and Cuban citizenship, while also exploring the connection to and separation from Cuban Jews in the diaspora.

Ruth Behar is the Victor Haim Perera Collegiate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. Born in Havana, Cuba, she is known for her humanistic approach to anthropology. Her books include Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza’s Story, The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart, An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba, and Traveling Heavy: A Memoir in between Journeys. She is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Also a creative writer, she is the author of a novel for young readers, Lucky Broken Girl, which won the 2018 Pura Belpré Author Award, and Everything I Kept/Todo lo que guardé, a bilingual collection of poetry.

Presented in collaboration with Brandeis University