The Cuba Studies Program welcomes Visiting Fellows for the 2020-2021 Academic Year

August 19, 2020

The Cuba Studies Program is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Petra Kuivala, Ambassador (ret.) Jeffrey DeLaurentis, and Professor Bárbaro Martínez-Ruiz as Visiting Fellows at Harvard University. Their work is closely related to Cuba and they will be collaborating with the Cuba Studies Program during the academic year of 2020-2021.

headshot of Petra KuivalaPetra Kuivala, PhD., Visiting Scholar at the History Department, Harvard University

Dr. Kuivala conducts postdoctoral research in the fields of history, theology and religious studies, and Cuban studies. She received her doctorate from the University of Helsinki in 2019 and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki. She has also held an appointment as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the Cuban Research Institute, Florida International University (2016–2017). Besides her focus on religion and the Cuban revolution, Dr. Kuivala's broader research interests include Christianity in the Americas, contemporary Catholicism, and the questions of Catholicism and political power.


Dr. Kuivala’s research on the Cuban revolution draws on fieldwork on the island, combining archival and oral sources with ethnographic research. Particularly essential to her work are the previously unstudied archives of the Catholic Church in Cuba, in which Dr. Kuivala has conducted research since 2015. Her recent work includes articles on Cuban religious material culture and the histories of lived religion in revolutionary Cuba. Her current project focuses on the intersections of religious and revolutionary lifestyles in Cuban society.


headshot of Jeffrey DeLaurentisAmbassador (ret.) Jeffrey DeLaurentis, Visiting Fellow, Cuba Studies Program at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University

During his 28-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service, Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis worked almost exclusively on Western Hemisphere issues and as a multilateral diplomat at the United Nations. He served as the first Charge d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Havana following the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, and as a principal negotiator for the many agreements concluded and dialogues launched between the two countries until January 2017. Prior to taking up his Cuba post in August 2014, he was the Ambassador for Special Political Affairs at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Previously, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and as Minister Counselor for Political Affairs and Security Council Coordinator at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.

Ambassador DeLaurentis began his State Department career in 1991 as a consular officer in Havana and returned to Cuba as Political-Economic Section Chief in 1999-2002. In Washington, he served as the Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, and Director of Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council. His last assignment in the Foreign Service was at the Harvard Kennedy School as a Senior Diplomatic Fellow with the Belfer Center Future of Diplomacy Project. He recently completed a fellowship at Columbia University as the George S. McGovern Visiting Professor of International and Public Affairs. He is currently a Distinguished Resident Fellow in Latin American Studies with the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a Senior Adviser with the Albright Stonebridge Group. For the last two years, he was a non-resident Visiting Fellow with DRCLAS’ Cuba Studies Program. DeLaurentis is a graduate of the Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service and Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. A recipient of multiple State Department awards, he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Diplomacy.

headshot of Barbaro Martinez RuizBárbaro Martínez-Ruiz, 2020-2021 Mark Claster Mamolen Fellow at the W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute and the Afro-Latin American Research Institute, Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, Harvard University

Bárbaro Martínez-Ruiz is the Tanner-Opperman Chair of African Art History in Honor of Roy Sieber at Indiana University. An art historian with expertise in African and Caribbean artistic, visual and religious practices, his work challenges traditional disciplinary boundaries and examines the varied understandings of – and engagement with – ‘art’ and ‘visual culture.’

His books include Kongo Graphic Writing and Other Narratives of the Sign (Temple University Press, 2013); Faisal Abdu’Allah: On the Art of Dislocation (Atlantic Center of Modern Art Press, 2012); and Art and Emancipation in Jamaica: Isaac Mendes Belisario and his Worlds (Yale University Press, 2007), for which he received the College Art Association Alfred H. Barr Award.

His project “Caribbean Foundations: African Art and Visual Culture” in the making of Caribbean Art investigates the emergence of African aesthetic and conceptual principles by collecting and analyzing evidence across academic disciplines and linguistic cultures (Spanish, Dutch, French, English). Caribbean Foundations considers a wide range of material, from the first stirrings in the early 16th century of Africans dislocated through the slave trade to the early 20th century, by which time most of the African artistic and cultural expressions were fully developed and firmly rooted throughout the Caribbean world.

The project brings together historic travel narratives and epistles with paintings, prints, maps and other traditional art forms with contemporary work by artists throughout the Caribbean. It traces the development of a spatial and conceptual framework of African artistic practices and how they inform Caribbean artistic traits. Furthermore, it examines the location of the “Afro” Latin American and the Caribbean in the historical and contemporary global visual scene.