December 18, 2018  

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Southern Miss Speaker to Present “Race and Racism in Contemporary Cuba” Oct. 15

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Roberto Zurbano

The University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for the Study of the Gulf South will welcome guest speaker Roberto Zurbano, who will present “Race and Racism in Contemporary Cuba.” The lecture will be held Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. in the International Center, room 101 on the Hattiesburg campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Roberto Zurbano is a Cuban writer, literary critic, poet and one of the most well-known critics of racism on the island. Now a researcher at the Casa de las Americas, Zurbano was demoted from his position as the director of the Casa’s publishing operations after publishing a 2013 op-ed in the New York Times.

The NYT piece was critical, not just of racism and racial inequality in Cuba but also the unwillingness of many Cubans to even acknowledge its existence. The piece was published as Raul Castro passed economic reforms on the island and is even more critical today as the United States and Cuba seek to normalize relations. In May 2015, Southern Miss students who attended the Cuban Study Abroad program had a unique opportunity to meet Zurbano.

Dr. Matthew Casey is an assistant professor of history and co-directs the Center for the Study of the Gulf South. "Amid the exuberant conversations about changes in U.S.-Cuba relations, we must pay special attention to the human side,” Casey said.

“Zurbano has long asked the difficult questions about injustice and inequality--always in measured tones and often at his own personal and professional expense. Any serious conversation about changes in contemporary Cuba must take account of the effects on ordinary people; now, as in other moments in the island's history, these are shaped by underlying, though often hidden, ideas of race. It is a conversation we will all benefit from having from one of the leading voices on the subject.”

This event is made possible with support from the School of Social Work, Center for the Study of the Gulf South, Honors College, Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage, Department of History and Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.