When it comes to the study of other nations and cultures, this writer is of the opinion that the best way to learn a new culture is through the people. (An unfortunate philosophy to have as an historian, as we are rarely able to speak with the people in the time period we study…but since I primarily study the 1960’s, I am safe for the time being…and so I digress!)
In my opinion, one of the best ways to observe and study a group of people is through focusing on families. The family unit, family values, family dynamics, family drama…all are intimate windows into the workings of any society. Additionally, the concept of “family” is easily relatable to virtually any audience, making this a good example to familiarize readers with the people here in Cuba.
The past fifty-some years have uniquely affected the Cuban family in many ways. In researching my Masters Thesis, I read countless testimonies of heads of families who moved their spouses, children, parents and siblings to the US in the early years of the revolution, convinced that the events unfolding in Cuba symbolized the end of their family values and parental sovereignty. Yet, in examining Cuban families today in Miami and Habana, few dramatic differences exist. Core personal values as they pertain to families and loved ones are the same. Mothers can be overbearing and overprotective, children rebel and seek independence, siblings quarrel and fight, everyone gathers on special occasions for a big meal and stories and maybe a good game of dominos, and practically every family has someone on the other side of the 90-mile divide separating the two nations.
In my study of Cuban families I will examine daily life and family time, the role of family members in each others lives, the family dynamic, philosophies and phenomena of Cuban family life, and traditions including birthdays, weddings, funerals and holidays.
On the academic side of things, I hope to disprove the theory that the revolution destroyed the Cuban family. In fact, the greatest harm to the Cuban family may have come from the subsequent exodus sparked by the fear that this may occur. But let’s leave history behind us to avoid me going off on a tangent!
As my primary goal is that katieincuba will serve as a cultural bridge between the US and Cuba, I believe sharing stories about Cuban families will aid in developing a human understanding of Cuba today. In the past month I have been overwhelmed by the closeness of families, the interactions I have witnessed as I spend time with my new Cuban friends, and the undeniable cultural similarities with other Latin cultures, which I hope readers everywhere can relate to.
To my readers: Having read the introduction for this blog category, if you have a relevant topic or event that you would like to learn more about, please mention it in the ‘COMMENTS’ section of this page. (Even if it is not in Habana, I am happy to travel to the other provinces for a good story!) I will do my best to research and write on all suggested topics.
 For more information on this see Chapter 5 of my thesis- “Social Transformations Threaten Middle-Class Values.”
Loiacano, Catherine Lynn, “Casualties of a Radicalizing Cuban Revolution:
Middle Class Opposition and Exile, 1961-1968,” Masters Thesis, North Carolina State University, March 2010.