Sunday, January 28, 2007

Great moments in research

Pay attention, class, and let me introduce you to Elizabeth Dore, a professor of Latin American Studies at the University of Southampton, in Great Britain.

Professor Dore recently visited the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), to discuss an oral history project she and a handful of other academics in the UK and Havana have undertaken in Cuba.

The researchers have spent the past two years interviewing over 100 Cubans “of diverse background”, mainly in Havana, about their memories of the Cuban Revolution for a project they have called Voces Cubanas.

The aim of the project: "to let Cubans speak for themselves".

And sure enough, the hard-working researchers have concluded that “popular American notions” of Cuba as a nasty, decaying dictatorship are “misguided”, to say the least, according to this report published by UCLA.

Professor Dore and her fellow academics found that Cuba is not one big gulag after all. Rather, the political system on the island operates with "probably more consent than coercion.”

What’s more, she told her UCLA audience, Cubans do not want US-style multi-party elections – and they “don't want capitalism and private property”.

Surprising results? Not once you read that the project was “sanctioned” and “backed” by the Castro regime.

And guess who picked and vetted the interviewees?

Under question from the UCLA audience about the methodology of the project, Professor Dore said that she was in "ongoing negotiations with the Cuban government on selection criteria for interviewees and other matters".

But she stressed that she had been "encouraged by the wide spectrum of views that researchers have been able to collect".



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with your analysis, but there is at least something to the point about "consent" ..

Cubans show a surprisingly uninterested view of social change... sometimes, they seem to hate and love the system all at once.. love b/c they are so nationalistic.. and anti-usa i guess.. anyway, there is something to a mixture of consent and coercion factor -- after all, without the consent of cubans , the system would have never lasted for 48 years

3:01 pm  

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