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Sujatha FernandezSujatha Fernandes
www.sujathafernandes.com

Sujatha Fernandes is Associate Professor at Queens College and the Graduate Center and has performed as a musician in Cuba. She raises very important issues around how Cubans who work within their system on a variety of issues are not heard in the US media, which prefers the dissidents who seek to overthrow the Cuban government.

Her research has focused on the politics of everyday culture, from film discussion groups, rap music, and performance art in her first book Cuba Represent! to community media, murals, and popular fiestas in her second book on Venezuela, Who Can Stop the Drums? Through her work she has developed an ethnographic approach as a way of understanding urban politics and culture. Her third book, Close to the Edge explores whether the musical subculture of hip hop could create and sustain new global solidarities. Her current project traces the contemporary use of storytelling by social movements in a range of global contexts, including immigrant worker social movements in New York City.-- www.sujathafernandes.com

Afro-Cuban Activists Fight Racism Between Two Fires  5/24/2016 The Nation: by Sujatha Fernandes - "They’re caught between a government that denies the existence of racism and fellow black Cubans who lack racial consciousness."  Discusses ARAAC, the Cuban civil rights movement, Alberto Abreu, Gisela Arandia, Roberto Zurbano, and "several racist articles published in Cuban periodicals." The article referred to is analyzed on AfroCubaWeb in "Acusaciones, acusaciones..."

Cuban journalists exposing injustice merit more attention 5/6/2013 Sujatha Fernandes: "Much of the media coverage of [Yoani] Sánchez presents her as a lone critical voice in a climate where the Cuban state does not tolerate dissent and where—as Cuban-American novelist Oscar Hijuelos claimed in the Time magazine piece—journalists and others cannot practice freedom of speech. While it is true that there is censorship in Cuba, and journalism has always been under the supervision of the Communist Party-controlled Department of Revolutionary Orientation (DOR), there is a vigorous culture of criticism and internal debate in Cuba. But often, because many artists, journalists, and activists are not calling for the downfall of the government, they tend to go ignored or sidelined within western media coverage."

More articles/Mas articulos

Cuba Represent!: Cuban Arts, State Power, and the Making of New Revolutionary Cultures

"In Cuba something curious has happened over the past fifteen years. The government has allowed vocal criticism of its policies to be expressed within the arts. Filmmakers, rappers, and visual and performance artists have addressed sensitive issues including bureaucracy, racial and gender discrimination, emigration, and alienation. How can this vibrant body of work be reconciled with the standard representations of a repressive, authoritarian cultural apparatus? In Cuba Represent! Sujatha Fernandes—a scholar and musician who has performed in Cuba—answers that question.

Combining textual analyses of films, rap songs, and visual artworks; ethnographic material collected in Cuba; and insights into the nation’s history and political economy, Fernandes details the new forms of engagement with official institutions that have opened up as a result of changing relationships between state and society in the post-Soviet period. She demonstrates that in a moment of extreme hardship and uncertainty, the Cuban state has moved to a more permeable model of power. Artists and other members of the public are collaborating with government actors to partially incorporate critical cultural expressions into official discourse. The Cuban leadership has come to recognize the benefits of supporting artists: rappers offer a link to increasingly frustrated black youth in Cuba; visual artists are an important source of international prestige and hard currency; and films help unify Cubans through community discourse about the nation. Cuba Represent! reveals that part of the socialist government’s resilience stems from its ability to absorb oppositional ideas and values." - from

“Sujatha Fernandes presents an excellent overview of expressive culture in revolutionary Cuba of the 1990s and beyond, offering provocative insights into the uses of art as a form of political protest and of individual expression. Her focus on various media (music, film, visual art) and her detailed ethnographic work allow her to document how topics such as gender, race, and politics surface constantly in Cuban art. Fernandes has demonstrated beyond any doubt the importance of culture as a space for progressive social discourse.”—Robin D. Moore, author of Music and Revolution: Cultural Change in Socialist Cuba

“A provocative look into Cuba’s cultural production. Those who want to understand how the Cuban government managed to negotiate the crisis of the 1990s should read this book.”—Alejandro de la Fuente, author of A Nation for All: Race, Inequality, and Politics in Twentieth-Century Cuba

“As a work that comes out of the discipline of political science, Cuba Represent! is extremely brave and original. Sujatha Fernandes manages to offer a language that is truly interdisciplinary, moving successfully across the boundaries of the social sciences and the humanities.”—Ruth Behar, author of Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza’s Story.

CONTENTS

ix List of Illustrations
xi Preface
xv Acknowledgments
1          Introduction: Artistic Public Spheres and the State
23    1. Remaking Conceptual Worlds: Changing Ideologies in Socialist Cuba
42    2. Old Utopias, New Realities: Film Publics, Critical Debates, and New Modes of Incorporation
85    3. Fear of a Black Nation: Local Rappers, Transnational Crossings, and State Power
135  4. Postwar Reconstructions: State Institutions, Public Art, and the New Market Conditions of Production
181 Conclusion
191 Notes
199 Bibliography
213 Index

Click for reviews, pricing & to order  ==> Amazon.com

Close to the Edge: In Search of the Global Hip Hop Generation

At its rhythmic, beating heart, Close to the Edge asks whether hip hop can change the world. Hip hop—rapping, beat-making,b-boying, deejaying, graffiti—captured the imagination of the teenage Sujatha Fernandes in the 1980s, inspiring her and politicizing her along the way. Years later, armed with mc-ing skills and an urge to immerse herself in global hip hop, she embarks on a journey into street culture around the world. From the south side of Chicago to the barrios of Caracas and Havana and the sprawling periphery of Sydney, she grapples with questions of global voices and local critiques, and the rage that underlies both. An engrossing read and an exhilarating travelogue, this punchy book also asks hard questions about dispossession, racism, poverty and the quest for change through a microphone.

Click for reviews, pricing & to order  ==> Amazon.com

 

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Sujatha Fernandes and Wilkine BrutusAfro-Cuban Activists Fight Racism Between Two Fires  5/24/2016 The Nation: by Sujatha Fernandes - "They’re caught between a government that denies the existence of racism and fellow black Cubans who lack racial consciousness."

Cuban Activists Say Telecommunications Infrastructure Must Stay In Cuban Hands  3/17/2016 Real News: "Sujatha Fernandes, Professor of Sociology at Queens College, discusses how Cuban advocates for greater internet connectivity are not willing to open the country to U.S. corporations in exchange for internet access ."

In Cuba, Will the Revolution Be Digitized?  3/10/2016 The Nation: by Sujatha Fernandes - "US media depict the island as stuck in the digital dark ages, but Cuba has lively cultures of connectivity that could evolve into a self-sustaining, open, and accessible digital commons."

What Do Cubans Think of Normalization With the United States?  2/9/2016 The Nation: by Sujatha Fernandes - "They’re divided, by generation and class, over whether it will be a good thing."

The Repeating Barrio  2/1/2016 The Nation: By Sujatha Fernandes, reviewing the 2014 film Canción de Barrio -"The film, however, also reveals the underlying paternalistic impulse of needing to bring Culture to the barrios. Folk music and Western classical traditions are counterposed to Afro-Cuban religious-cultural practices such as Abakuá, which the film presents pejoratively as linked to a culture of violence and criminality. Culture is understood as Frank Fernández performing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. But the barrios have given birth to their own rich Afro-Cuban musical traditions, from the percussive genre of rumba to the more contemporary hip hop movement. Places on the tour’s map like Parque Trillo, Regla, and Alamar were key sites for the development of rumba and hip hop, a point that seems to be lost in the film."

Cuba & Hip-Hop: A Talk with Sujatha Fernandes (Part 1)  4/6/2015 Oogeewoogee: "lWe sat down with Professor Sujatha Fernandes (Dept. of Sociology at Queens College and the Graduate Center) to discuss the history of Hip Hop resistance, the commodification of the culture, and the impact the normalization will have on the Cuban Hip-Hop community. Professor Sujatha Fernandes has written extensively on global social movements. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, The Huffington Post, American Prospect, and Colorlines."

What Is Happening in Venezuela?  3/2/2015 The Nation: "Sujatha Fernandes, who teaches in the sociology department at CUNY’s Queens College and the Graduate Center and is the author of Who Can Stop the Drums? Urban Social Movements in Chávez’s Venezuela, points to the barrios, where despite the economic shortages and long lines for basic goods: many of those poor barrio residents who make up the stronghold of the Bolivarian process are aware of the destabilizing role being played by the opposition on many fronts and are not the core of those expressing discontent. And speaking to ordinary Venezuelans, one does not get the sense of major economic calamity, despite hardships. The bonds of solidarity that have developed in recent times have given rise to such innovative responses as a barter economy."

Do Cubans Really Want US Style Internet Freedom?  12/21/2014 Sujatha Fernandez: "For all the talk about bringing Internet freedoms to Cuba, could it be that Cubans have themselves created an alternative to the corporate-driven World Wide Web by coming up with their own alternative networks for consuming and sharing information? In contrast torecent depictions of Cuba as a technological backwater, frozen in time, deprivation has yet again spurred Cubans to new creative heights. When considering the enormous opportunities that will be created by Obama’s announcement of historic policies, it will be important to keep in mind what Cubans want and need—and not what we think they do."

Why USAID Could Never Spark a Hip Hop Revolution in Cuba  12/16/2014 Sujatha Fernandez: "The documents secured by the AP reveal a frightening level of manipulation of Cuban rappers by USAID. Like with ZunZuneo, the failed Cuban twitter project also engineered by USAID, the actions of this agency put Cubans at risk of state repression and threatened a closure of the critical spaces that rappers had already built and defended. USAID realizes the power of culture to provide a powerful political voice for young people. What it doesn’t realize is that in a society shaped by successive generations of revolutionary projects, any attempt to engineer a U.S.-affiliated movement from above is destined to be revealed for the farce that it is."

The Rhythms of Dissent – Language, Race and Rap in the Modern World  11/12/2014 Sujatha Fernandez: "Cuban rapper Julio Cardenas relates how he learned to rap by listening to the song “Boricuas on Da Set” by Fat Joe over and over on his Walkman. “I didn’t know anything about flow, cadence, rhythm. I’d never studied music,” he told me. “What was guiding me was the sound of the voices, the mixture of each, and the cadences. I started to rap over the top of this song, write my first lyrics.” Imitation could be an informal style of learning that gave rise to more original pieces."

Snapshot from the Economic War in Venezuela  8/28/2014 Sujatha Fernandez: "Between October and December 2013, Moreno, along with the prosecutor Hernan Marín Pérez, sanctioned numerous companies involved in economic sabotage known as “guarimba” who were deliberately causing shortages through hoarding and speculation. Moreno and Marín always clearly followed legal guidelines in their prosecutions. But on July 18, they were arrested on trumped up charges of extortion and conspiracy, punishable under Articles 60 and 70 of the Anti-Corruption Act and Article 37 of the Law Against Organized Crime and Terrorism Financing. The charges are clearly retribution for their role played in attacking the destructive practices of regional businesses."

Cultures of Documentary Filmmaking in Cuba  3/16/2014 Sujatha Fernandez: "Ordinary citizens in Cuba faced tremendous difficulties after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but the decades of the 1990s and 2000 ushered in a revitalization of the arts and creative responses to the crisis. Cuban music, literature, and visual arts are some of the more widely known and globally circulated cultural products of this period. Cultural forms such as rap music have helped to create new avenues for democratic debate and discussion within the country, raising such issues as racial discrimination, police harassment, and state censorship. But one cultural form less well known both inside and outside of Cuba has been the newly emerging genre of documentary filmmaking by young Cuban directors."

Cuban journalists exposing injustice merit more attention  5/6/2013 MSNBC: by Sujatha Fernandes - "Much of the media coverage of [Yoani] Sánchez presents her as a lone critical voice in a climate where the Cuban state does not tolerate dissent and where—as Cuban-American novelist Oscar Hijuelos claimed in the Time magazine piece—journalists and others cannot practice freedom of speech. While it is true that there is censorship in Cuba, and journalism has always been under the supervision of the Communist Party-controlled Department of Revolutionary Orientation (DOR), there is a vigorous culture of criticism and internal debate in Cuba. But often, because many artists, journalists, and activists are not calling for the downfall of the government, they tend to go ignored or sidelined within western media coverage."

Straight Outta Havana  8/6/2011 NYT: "Cuban rap is also special for the caliber of its lyrics. Thanks to the country’s excellent and free schools, rappers — although predominantly black and from poorer neighborhoods — received a high degree of education. Cuba’s most prolific rap producer, Pablo Herrera, was a professor of English at the University of Havana. Rap lyrics mine Cuba’s literature and history in their portrayals of the tribulations of street life."

Cultural Cimarronaje: Racial Politics in Cuban Art  10/9/2007 Upside Down World: Excerpted from the new book Cuba Represent!: Cuban Arts, State Power, and the Making of New Revolutionary Cultures, by Sujatha Fernandes

Cuba: Gender, Sexuality, and Women Rappers  9/4/2007 Upside Down World: Excerpted from the new book Cuba Represent!: Cuban Arts, State Power, and the Making of New Revolutionary Cultures, by Sujatha Fernandes - "When I first visited Cuba in 1998, women's presence in hip-hop was still negligible. At concerts I would come across male rappers with their gold medallions, Fubu gear, and mindless lyrics about women, cars, and guns, the latter two hardly a reality for most young Cuban men. Over the years, there have been important changes in gender politics within Cuba, particularly in rap music, and women within the genre feel empowered to speak of issues such as sexuality, feminism, as well as gender roles and stereotyping."
 

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Sujatha Fernandes, "Fear of a Black Nation: Local Rappers, Transnational Crossings and State Power in Contemporary Cuba." Anthropological Quarterly, Volume 76, Number 4, Fall 2003, pp 575 - 608. PDF

Sujatha Fernandes, "Transnationalism and Feminist Activism in Cuba: The Case of Magín." Politics & Gender, Volume 1, Number 3, September 2005, pp 431- 452. PDF

Sujatha Fernandes and Jason Stanyek, "Hip Hop and Black Public Spheres in Venezuela, Cuba and Brazil." Beyond Slavery: The Multi-Layered Legacy of Africans in Latin America, edited by Darien Davis, Boulder and New York : Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2007, pp 199 - 222. PDF

Sujatha Fernandes, "Island Paradise, Revolutionary Utopia or Hustler's Haven? Consumerism and Socialism in Contemporary Cuban Rap." Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, Volume 12, Number 3, Fall 2003, pp 359 - 375. PDF

Sujatha Fernandes, "Mambíses, Malandros, and Maleantes: Imaginerías Colectivas de Luchas y Supervivencia en el Rap Cubano y Venezolano." Revista Iberoamericana, edited by Alejandro Bruzual, No 217, Octubre - Diciembre 2006, pp 973 - 988.  PDF

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