Archiving the revolution : claiming history in Cuban literature and film
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This dissertation examines how both literature and film were responsible for the construction of the Cuban Revolutionary Archive. On one hand, the immediate foundation of the Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC) three months after the triumph of Fidel Castro's 26 of July guerrilla movement in 1959, showed the urgency to establish a cinematic apparatus that would support the Cuban Revolution itself, that is, the need to project what had just happened to the outside world. On the other, literature also emerged as an important artifact of the Cuban Revolutionary Archive with the support of the literary prizes granted by Casa de las Américas-- another key cultural institution founded in those first years. Most of the first films-- such as Historias de la Revolución (1960)-- and novels-- such as Maestra voluntaria (1962)-- produced then were either about the Cuban struggle or served to record the main events and accomplishments of the post-1959 revolutionary process. That is why I considered them as historical records instituted and manipulated by the Cuban government. I also analyze the films and novels published outside the island as a "counter-archive" that contests the official version. My goal in writing this dissertation, then, was not only to trace how this Cuban Revolutionary Filmic and Literary Archive was constructed but also how it has evolved throughout the years. To do so I analyze primary works from the sixties-- such as the film P.M. (1960) and Memories of Underdevelopment (1968) and the novel Bertillón 166 (1960)-- to contrast them with works produced thirty to fifty years later that revisit those first years-- such as the films 8-A (1992), City in Red (2009) and Memories of Overdevelopment (2010). The aim is to decipher why these two mediums were used as artifacts of the archive, what was hidden or erased, how did the archive of the sixties differ from the one that emerged after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and during the "Special Period," and what challenges arose with the passage of time and the decadence of the revolutionary process. By looking for answers to these questions, this dissertation aims to contribute to the recent revision by cultural scholars of Latin American Revolutions in their anniversaries.