Global Migrations in Cuban and Cuban American Literature: What is Carried, What is Lost, and What is Left Behind

Reynolds, Lauren, Spanish - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Pellón, Gustavo, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, University of Virginia

This dissertation examines the effects and consequences of migration in literature written by Cuban and Cuban American women. It considers the migrant’s adaptation to her new community and what she gains, preserves, and loses during this process. More specifically, it explores spectral representations of cultural inheritance, hybrid spiritual practices, and the representation of historically marginalized voices. The first chapter seeks to understand how four writers draw upon spectral presences to discuss Cuban identity in exile in four poems: Nancy Morejón’s “Ante un espejo” (1999); Nilda Cepero’s “Burialground” (1997) and “Tropical Flavor” (1998); Andrea O’Reilly Herrera’s “Inhabited Woman” (1999); and one novel: La isla de los amores infinitos by Daína Chaviano (2006). Chapter two analyzes Cristina García’s 2003 novel, Monkey Hunting. This chapter aligns the text’s portrayal of migrant experiences with elements of ritual passage to offer a reading of social criticism. Chapter three studies Chaviano’s and García’s depictions of migration through the ghosts and spirits that inhabit Doris Sommer’s concept of “wiggle room.” Chapter four investigates the role of Chen Fang in Monkey Hunting to propose that her narrative both represents her subaltern status and privileges her account. Her first-person narration resurrects her story and gives it presence within a novel that otherwise tells the cross-continental journeys of men. Cuban specters haunt the texts of Cepero, Chaviano, García, Morejón, and O’Reilly Herrera to insist upon the presence of the past within their exiles’ lives. Through these presences, women safeguard culture or create new spiritual practices. They stay behind or transition to new homes. They live haunted by spirits or as ghosts themselves. In all of the texts, their specters shed light on stories of migration.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Cuba, Migration, Spectrality
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