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Cuba: ‘The Translation of Letters and Ideas in Cuba’s Republic’: Symposium looks at translation practices in Cuban history

“The Translation of Letters and Ideas in Cuba’s Republic,” a four-part symposium co-sponsored by the University of Connecticut’s Department of Literatures, Cultures & Languages, the UConn Humanities Institute, El Instituto Seed Grant, the John. N Plank Lecture Series and Global Affairs took place virtually Thursday, and focused on the usage of translation in major Cuban publications during the Republic Period (1902-1959). 

The first half of Thursday’s event was a discussion on “Philosophies, Geopolitics, and Translation” moderated by Samuel Martinez, a UConn professor in the anthropology department and the director of El Instituto, the Institute for Latina/o, Caribbean and Latin American Studies. Four panelists presented lectures focusing on different aspects of the overall topic of translation in Cuba, followed by a Q&A session with the audience. 

The panelists included César Salgado, an associate professor in the department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Texas at Austin; Reynaldo Lastre, a graduate assistant in the department of literatures, cultures and languages at UConn and a co-organizer of the symposium; Rachel Price, an associate professor in the department of Spanish and Portuguese at Princeton University and Anke Birkenmaier, a professor in the department of Spanish and Portuguese at Indiana University, Bloomington. Presentations and discussions took place in a mix of English and Spanish. 

Each presenter discussed different publications. Lastre, for example, focused on “Bohemia,”Cuba’s oldest general consumer magazine, while Birkenmaier talked about “Gaceta del Caribe,” which chronicled the cultural politics of the mid-1940s not just in Cuba but in the entire Caribbean diaspora. 

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