Memory and a Hard Place: Revisiting Central Havana

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Marivic Wyndham
Peter Read


Raul and Manolo are two Cuban men in their late sixties. Manolo left soon after Castro’s triumph to become a television celebrity in Miami. He returned in 1991 to make a clandestine film about the city which once was his. Raul never left his decaying city. He applauded the revolution, but little by little his enthusiasm soured.

The paper examines the relationship of the two men to what was once the ultra modern Central Havana of the mid-1950s. Manolo’s froze on the day he left: his filmed city is silent, immobile, full of ghosts, almost empty, ugly, ruined. Manolo’s Central Havana processes and changes, it is noisy, busy, - but also it is ugly and ruined. Both lament the city as it once was. Only Raul sees hope of reconciliation.

Article Details

Hyperworld(s) Special Issue January 2008 (Peer Reviewed)
Author Biography

Marivic Wyndham, UTS

Marivic Wyndham completed her doctorate at the Australian National University in the field of Australian cultural history. Her thesis explored the life and times of the Australian novelist of the inter-war years, Eleanor Dark (1901-1985). Wyndham's current research focuses on issues of identity and belonging in the context of post-Cold War Latin American political geographies. Current projects include 'Changing Hands: Custodians of Place and Memory in Contemporary Cuba', and 'The role of the rhetoric of the common good in sustaining and silencing societies-in-trauma: Chile, Cuba and Cuban U.S.A.' (both in collaboration with Professor Peter Read, Centre for Cross Cultural Research, ANU). Marivic Wyndham is also interested in comparative studies Australia/Latin America.