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Professor Raul Rubio
Professor Raul Rubio

Raúl Rubio, New School Chair of Languages, Writes About a Postnational Era in Cuba

Raúl Rubio, chair of languages and associate professor of Hispanic Studies at The New School, has authored a new book chapter titled Cuban Emotions: Virtual and Material Storytelling in a Postnational Erawhich appeared in the book Identidad y Postnacionalismo en la cultura cubana. (Aduana Vieja, 2019.) The book is edited by Laura P. Alonso Gallo (Barry University) and Belén Rodríguez Mourelo. (Penn State University) 

In the chapter, Rubio discusses how the concept of “postnational” has become increasingly popular during the past decade, and is particularly applicable to the Americas and Latinx Studies.  Postnationalism is a concept in which nation states and national identities are becoming less fixed, as globalism and shifting political, economic, and cultural forces have changed the world. “Cuban Emotions” addresses the complex notion of Cuban identity, interpreted in ways that go beyond borders, and seeks to illuminate the realities of our time.

Rubio stresses that the concept of postnationalism is particularly resonant concept when it comes to Cuba, a country that has undergone the displacement of Cubans, and extreme economic and political fluctuations. Rubio’s analysis of artificial texts, via cyberspace, using a wide range of technological platforms, demonstrates that a virtual Cuban nation has been formed. 

“The idea of post-nationalism is still being debated, especially in the case of Cuba, where many theorists and cultural practitioners have been writing about Cuban culture using either an exilic, diasporic, and/or transnational approach for a few decades,” says Rubio.

“For this reason, my chapter proposes that the debated theoretical construct of postnationalism might be a good vehicle to approach Cuban nationality in this new decade, given that national disjuncture continues to engage Cubans around the world.”

In the essay, he discusses how millions of Cuban exiles around the world have formed a “dynamic Cuban diaspora” which arguably can be considered an extraterritorial Cuban nation. That nation is made up of many areas throughout the world, but has large concentrations in Miami, Florida, Union City, New Jersey, Madrid Spain and Mérida, México. He writes that Cubans who are part of that diaspora, find connections through material goods and entertainment. Rubio’s essay creates a framework of analysis for the future study of “cultural interactivity of the Cuban diaspora, existent, imagined, passive and reactive.”

“In the piece, I lay out a framework on how to consider “emotions” as a means to talk about displacement, memory, and trauma, for both Cubans on the island and for the world-wide Cuban diaspora,” he says. “My proposal is that we should now consider emotions as an overarching vehicle for analysis, given that materiality of all sorts as well as virtuality, (blogs, web pages, apps. etc.) are cathartic sources that deem analysis not only for those that left Cuba, but also for those that have never set foot on Cuban soil, yet are emotionally tied to the same nationalism that they intend to constantly define.” 

During Rubio’s tenure as chair of the Languages Department he has expanded enrollment to over 930 students, 65 courses per semester in eleven languages, including American Sign Language (ASL). The department has initiated many teaching and learning innovations, including online synchronous (real-time) courses using Zoom in Chinese, French, Japanese and Spanish, as well as the promotion of new technologies for learning languages in and beyond the classroom, including the use of apps, games, and other media. The Languages Department has recently adopted a statement on diversity and Inclusion, while developing updated pedagogies related to gender in the language classroom.   

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