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MY RESEARCH

Since graduating from the University of Havana in 2014, my academic journey has been dedicated to exploring Afro-Hispanic studies, specifically focusing on art, literature, music, race, and gender. In my undergraduate dissertation titled "Nicolás Guillén: Más motivos para son," I delved into the musicalization of the renowned Afro-Cuban writer's poems during the early 20th-century Cuban musical nationalist movement. Employing a linguistic and ethnomusicological approach, my research also aimed to uncover the African diaspora's influence and the presence of the musical genre of "son" in Guillén's works.

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Throughout my academic career, my research interests have extended beyond Afro-Hispanic themes, leading me to engage with emerging fields such as African Diaspora and Latinx Studies, digital humanities, and public policies. As a result, I have published several articles reflecting the breadth of my investigation, as you can see in this digital portfolio's "Selected publications" section. 

My passion for the visual arts was ignited during my time at Vanderbilt. One significant experience that shaped my involvement in this realm was my role as Assistant Editor at Afro-Hispanic Review. During this time, I worked closely with guest editor Dr. Juanamaría Cordones-Cook to prepare a special issue on Afro-Cuban art. This involved publishing three testimonies and dossiers based on interviews with esteemed Afro-Cuban artists Manuel Mendive, Santiago Rodríguez Olazábal, and Eduardo Roca Salazar "Choco."

During my third year as a Graduate Student, I had the privilege of assisting Mexican artist Guillermo Galindo during his internship at Vanderbilt's Art Department. Through this experience, I discovered a new dimension of contemporary art: sound installations. Inspired by this encounter, I interviewed Galindo for the Nashville Hispanic journal La Campana. I actively participated in the "Sonic-Reactivation" performance in Nashville's public square, the former site of the city's slave market.

My fascination with Mexican art led me to further engage at the Frist Art Museum. During the Natasha and Jacques Gelman Collection exhibit of modern painters, I had the opportunity to deliver two talks focusing on Frida Kahlo's self-portraits and a section of Diego Rivera's mural Epopeya de México, which were both integral parts of the exhibition (you can access both presentations in the "Gallery" of this section). Additionally, I co-taught a class centered around Mexican literature and culture, using music, and visual arts as powerful tools to expand students' understanding and appreciation of Mexican culture.

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My dissertation, titled "El arte femenino: Interpretando los códigos de la Sociedad Abakuá," delves into the cultural artifacts created by artists that draws from the imagery of the Abakuá Society. The Abakuá Society has often been judged by scholars based on racial, gender, religious, ideological, and moral grounds, often characterized as phallocentric, misogynistic, and possessing underdeveloped religious and ethical practices. However, my research seeks to analyze the impact of the Abakuá imaginary on Cuban culture through an artistic lens. I argue that the myths, rituals, symbols, ethos, and notions of gender and race within the Abakuá have permeated Cuban culture and society, providing a counter-hegemonic platform for Cuban artists to challenge discourses of male and political dominance.

My current research focuses on the Abakua Society’s profound influence on Cuban, Latinx, and American culture, emphasizing its impact through the artistic lens. The Society has been traditionally off-limits to women. However, pioneering artists like Sara Gómez, Belkis Ayón, and Ana Mendieta appropriated the Society’s symbols, ethos, and myths as central elements of their artistic production.

Now, I am in the process of transforming my dissertation findings on Guillermo Cabrera Infante into an article. I plan to elaborate further on the chapters centered around the female figures and introduce two more. One of these new chapters will be dedicated to Lydia Cabrera, a prominent writer and researcher on the Abakua Society, while the other will shine a spotlight on Renee Stout, a contemporary American sculptor and artist. Stout employs the imagery of the Abakua Society to portray the hypothetical lost book of drawings by José Aponte, who was the leader in the “1812 Conspiracy” and considered an Abakua Society member, according to oral tradition among the members of the Society. This adjustment in focus allows me to concentrate exclusively on women’s contributions.

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