If scholarship has focused on the return to the stereotypical portrayals of black characters during the 1990s, and that were common to the pre-revolutionary era, what had not yet been addressed is how differentiating linguistic traits (manner of speech) have been used to represent black characters in more recent Cuban fiction, a narrative strategy that goes back to colonial times. Apart from conveying “authenticity” (i.e. the details of the Havana slang) when building fictional characters, such a literary device, I contend, was also a way to emphasise the Island’s socioeconomic and cultural decadence or “involution” during this decade of economic upheaval. Since the second decade of the new millennium, other voices, namely from the Caribbean side of the Island, have emerged and imposed themselves in fiction, leading me to explore the other levels of significance of this narrative strategy. What follows is a tale about continuity and subversion.
Catia Dignard is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Her dissertation examines the topic of linguistic representations of Black characters in contemporary Cuban fiction, and how these reflect evolving notions of nationhood, class and race relations on the Island. The first part of this talk will consist of the process and journey that lead to this “work in progress”. The second part will touch upon her preliminary findings and the work that lies ahead.