Havana beyond the Ruins

Cultural Mappings after 1989

Havana beyond the Ruins

Book Pages: 344 Illustrations: 14 photographs, 1 illustration, 1 table, 1 map Published: August 2011

Art and Visual Culture > Architecture, Cultural Studies, Latin American Studies

In Havana beyond the Ruins, prominent architects, scholars, and writers based in and outside of Cuba analyze how Havana has been portrayed in literature, music, and the visual arts since Soviet subsidies of Cuba ceased, and the Cuban state has re-imagined Havana as a destination for international tourists and business ventures. Cuba’s capital has experienced little construction since the revolution of 1959; many of its citizens live in poorly maintained colonial and modernist dwellings. It is this Havana—of crumbling houses, old cars, and a romantic aura of ruined hopes—that is marketed in picture books, memorabilia, and films. Meanwhile, Cuba remains a socialist economy, and government agencies maintain significant control of urban development, housing, and employment. Home to more than two million people and a locus of Cuban national identity, Havana today struggles with the some of the same problems as other growing world cities, including slums and escalating social and racial inequalities. Bringing together assessments of the city’s dwellings and urban development projects, Havana beyond the Ruins provides unique insights into issues of memory, citizenship, urban life, and the future of the revolution in Cuba.

Emma Álvarez-Tabío Albo
Eric Felipe-Barkin
Anke Birkenmaier
Velia Cecilia Bobes
Mario Coyula-Cowley
Elisabeth Enenbach
Sujatha Fernandes
Jill Hamberg
Patricio del Real
Cecelia Lawless
Jacqueline Loss
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
Antonio José Ponte
Nicolás Quintana
Jose Quiroga
Laura Redruello
Rafael Rojas
Joseph L. Scarpaci
Esther Whitfield


“[An] interesting addition to work on the city of Havana.” — Guy Baron, Bulletin of Spanish Studies

“[E]specially timely…. These essays by architects, historians, cultural critics, sociologists, photographers, and writers from the island and beyond yield a variety of perspectives, reflecting competing visions for Havana’s present and future.” — Rachel Price, Literature and Arts of the Americas

“All in all, this book should be considered an exploratory account that will hopefully incite more anthropologists to investigate the current transformations of Havana, arguably the Latin American capital of the 20th century.” — Marian Viorel Anastasoaie, Social Anthropology

“A superb collection of provocative, wide-ranging essays on what used to be, and soon will be again, America’s favorite foreign city. The distinguished contributors—the Havana All-Stars—explore the body and soul of the Cuban capital with passion and insight.” — Gustavo Pérez Firmat, author of The Havana Habit

“An eloquent, urgent, and riveting account of Havana today and where it might be tomorrow. This anthology brings together an incredible range of thoughtful observers, all of whom adore this gorgeous tropical metropolis, ravished by the sea and by history. Congratulations to Anke Birkenmaier and Esther Whitfield for the gift of this book, which is certain to become a classic.” — Ruth Behar, author of An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba


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Price: $28.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Anke Birkenmaier is Assistant Professor of Spanish at Indiana University.

Esther Whitfield is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Brown University.

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Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5070-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5052-1
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