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Title: Art collectives, Afro-Cuban culture, and alternative cultural production, 1975-2010 : the performative interventions of OMNI Zona Franca and the struggle for space in the Cuban public sphere
Author: Kocur, Zoya
ISNI:       0000 0001 1675 7946
Awarding Body: Middlesex University
Current Institution: Middlesex University
Date of Award: 2013
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This study presents an analysis of the appropriation of public space by cultural producers in Cuba, with a focus on art collectives, in particular, OMNI Zona Franca from Alamar, east of Havana. Based on primary research conducted with the artists, cultural producers, and scholars, I discuss OMNI’s work in the context of the history and formation of a nascent movement for civil society in Cuba, locating the collective’s work within the matrix of alternative and African diasporic cultural production. The latter is framed as part of a historical continuum and in the context of the discussion of race that emerged in Cuba’s public sphere during the 1990s with a concurrent movement among black Cuban artists to address issues of race. Situating OMNI’s work in a longer history of Afro-Cuban cultural production in Cuba as well as within the history of art collectives this study demonstrates how OMNI’s participation in the public sphere relates to social practice, appropriation of space, alternativity, and the forging of a wide coalition of civil and artistic alternatives among diverse communities. I draw on discourses on the production of space, particularly those of Henri Lefebvre and Raymond Williams, and argue that the unique and specific history of Alamar provided a fertile ground for alternative culture where multiple and countercultural expressions could be incubated and take root. The struggle over public space and the attempts by artists to create an autonomous public sphere in Cuba have led to continual conflict with the state. Using Gramsci’s theorization of civil society as incorporating both the hegemonic and contestatory realms, I contend that the level of contestation in OMNI Zona Franca’s work should be seen as counter-hegemonic expression aimed at altering the status quo. Producing new social relations, the collective’s practice is offered as an example of how art and cultural production is inaugurating alternative counter-spaces in the context of a demand for a more inclusive and representative Revolutionary public sphere.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available