Cuba Studies Program: The 'Liberal Moment' of the Revolution: Early Educational Reforms in Revolutionary Cuba


Friday, March 31, 2017, 12:00pm to 2:00pm


CGIS South, S-216 (Resource Room), 1730 Cambridge Street








Speaker: Rainer Schultz, PhD, Director of the Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad (CASA), Cuba Divisional Center in Havana 

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

Jorge I. Domínguez, Antonio Madero Professor for the Study of Mexico, Department of Government; Chair, Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, Harvard University

The history of Cuba's revolution is usually associated with an authoritarian, Soviet-influenced model of Communism. The success of Cuba's educational system has often been praised as the revolution's most impressive achievement. Were these two notions necessarily tied together? In this talk I argue that the revolutionary government's early reforms were democratic, liberal and based on republican traditions but influenced by a revolutionary impetus. Unearthing educational policies characterized by public-private partnerships and heterogeneous pedagogical influences and forms of collaboration, including from the United States, helps revising a dominant teleological perspective on Cuban historiography, historicize the shift towards socialist policies and enrich contemporary debates on reforms in Cuba today.

Rainer Schultz obtained his PhD in Latin American history from Harvard University in 2016. His research focuses on education, Communism and US influence in 20th century Cuba. Parts of his research and contemporary analysis of Cuba have been published in Cuba, Germany, and the United States. In 2015 Rainer has been named the director of the Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad (CASA), Cuba Divisional Center in Havana. In this capacity he facilitated and oversaw semester abroad programs for more than 100 US-American students in Cuba. A past fellow of the Cuban Studies Program at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University and the Afro-Latin American Research Institute at the Hutchins Center for African and Afro-American Studies he has worked on and in Cuba for more than a decade.