Cuban Currency: The Dollar and ''''Special Period'''' by Esther Whitfield

By Esther Whitfield

With the cave in of the Soviet Union within the Nineteen Nineties, in the course of an fiscal main issue termed its “special interval in occasions of peace,” Cuba started to courtroom the capitalist global for the 1st time due to the fact its 1959 revolution. With the U.S. greenback instated as household forex, the island appeared abruptly available to overseas shoppers, and their curiosity in its tradition boomed.   Cuban foreign money is the 1st booklet to deal with the consequences on Cuban literature of the country’s remarkable beginning to international markets that marked the top of the 20th century. in keeping with interviews and archival study in Havana, Esther Whitfield argues that writers have either challenged and profited from new transnational markets for his or her paintings, with far-reaching literary and ideological implications. Whitfield examines funds and cross-cultural fiscal relatives as they're inscribed in Cuban fiction. Exploring the paintings of Zo? Vald?s, Pedro Juan Guti?rrez, Antonio Jos? Ponte and others, she attracts out writers’ engagements with the tricky commodification of Cuban identification.   Confronting the vacationer and publishing industries’ roles within the transformation of the Cuban revolution into advertisement capital, Whitfield identifies a physique of fiction certainly attuned to the fabric and political demanding situations of the “special period.”   Esther Whitfield is assistant professor of comparative literature at Brown college.

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S. Interests Section to protest the detention in Miami of the rafter child Elián González. As Jean-Joseph Goux explores, paper money is always an opportunity to ascribe ideological as well as monetary value and, alongside the simple statement of numerical denomination, the revolution and its values have been written into Cuban paper money. The banknote as text reiterates the revolution’s message with every private transaction. S. dollar. The symbols and slogans that had sustained Cuba’s revolution and economy for thirty-five years were to be effectively overwritten by the dollar’s English, the “foreign language” toward which Cuca Martínez showed such disregard in 1959.

S. citizens might also represent longing for calmer, less problematic relations between the two countries. It is thus socialism as a relic, as much as the hope it once was for some and still is for others, that animates this tourist experience; so that the longing for “the time of our childhood, the slower rhythms of our dreams” that Boym sees as a temporal component of nostalgia is implicitly dehistoricized. Tourist nostalgia is directed at a vague past that is neither recoverable nor desirable for the present: from this perspective, socialist Cuba appears neither as an achievement to be mourned nor as an ideal to be sustained.

S. dollar is counterbalanced by a shrewdly external perspective on the special period, inscribed as a recognition of the interest that the period and its tropes hold for outside viewers. As I explore in chapter 2, Valdés’s pioneering novel incorporates this interest, as do the more anxious short stories of Ronaldo Menéndez, Anna Lidia Vega Serova, and others that I read in chapter 3. I suggest in chapter 4, however, that it is the brash and crude revelations of Pedro Juan Gutiérrez’s novels —their exposure of Centro Habana intimacy at its most raw, and its most marketable —that take on readers’ voyeuristic curiosity most explicitly.

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