In my doctoral dissertation, “The Desired Revolution and the New Man: Assembling and Negotiating Cultural and Intellectual Practices in Revolutionary Cuba,” I argue that the narratives of the Cuban revolution produced by its organic intellectuals (as well as by its main ideological drive, the so-called ‘new man’ [hombre nuevo]) have set in motion differential affective politics operating in the cultural field. These narratives operate via complex flows of ‘structures of feeling’ that generate the desire to desire the Cuban Revolution on the collective social body, inside and outside the island. In other words, the success of the Cuban Revolution as a transformative social project was not just due to political programs and social policies implemented after 1959.
The deepest social transformation was perhaps created by the people's own identification with and desire for the revolution. It is my contention that this “desire” (as Deleuze and Guattari suggest) was partially created by mainstream/pro-revolutionary intellectuals. In order to account for the ways in which the “revolutionary desire” operates I use a wide-ranging interdisciplinary framework that draws on cultural theorists such as Michel Foucault, Antonio Benítez Rojo, Stuart Hall, Raymond Williams, Antonio Gramsci, among others. Within this framework I propose to analyze the cultural transformations in Cuba since the early 1959 vis-à-vis the “structures of feeling” and “politics of affect” that dominate the revolution's political apparatus.
In sum, my dissertation details how Cubans have come to desire a ‘hegemonic Revolution’—a desire maintained through the unstable equilibrium between consensus and repression (following Gramsci's views), and how such a balancing act can be critically analyzed through an extensive body of cultural texts. These include ‘canonic’ films such as Fresa y Chocolate by Tomás Gutierrez Alea, censored and prohibited films such as Alicia en el pueblo de Maravillas by Daniel Díaz Torres, the highly controversial documentary P.M. by Sabá Cabrera Infante y Orlando Jiménez, and other films by Arturo Soto, Enrique Álvarez, Eduardo del Llano; novels, plays and short stories by Humberto Arenal (El sol a plomo and El mejor traductor de Shakespeare), Virgilio Piñera (Una caja de zapatos vacía and Presiones y Diamantes), José Soler Puig's Bertillón 166, Manuel Cofiño, Reinaldo Arenas, to name a few; foto-reportajes [photographic reports] from Cuban magazines such as Bohemia and Verde Olivo, and from Time and The New York Times; art installations from Pedro Pablo Oliva, Alexis Leyva Machado “Kcho,” Wifredo Lam, and Jorge Perugorría; historietas [comics] such as Juan Padrón's Elpidio Valdés (the most recognizable comic book and animated film character in post-revolutionary Cuba); as well as a number of interviews with intellectuals of this time period that I have conducted in Cuba and in the U.S. Cuban exilic communities. Exploring such texts allows me to critically connect literature, film, popular culture and media with a view to our better understanding of the ‘re-narration’ and constant ‘re-invention’ of Cuban history and culture from 1959 to the present.