HAVANA TIMES — The Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE), has just updated its biannual presidency. After the 2018 Conference’s sessions, we were able to speak to University of Michigan professor Silvia Pedraza, the institution’s new president. The organization was founded in the United States 28 years ago.
HT: You have dedicated a large part of your professional career to immigration issues, being a Cuban by birth, you stress that it isn’t only the ASCE, but all institutions founded by Cubans outside their country over the past 60 years that are at an important crossroads, why?
SP: After so long, new generations of Cuban-Americans have appeared who are more American than Cuban, as they haven’t grown up or lived in Cuba. Therefore, they don’t carry Cuba in their hearts in the same way and they don’t really identify themselves with the island. This is threatening the very existence of the ASCE and many other institutions with similar origins.
HT: You wrote in the report you presented when you took on the presidency that this had to do with a common immigration phenomenon.
SP: We have two basic concepts: One presented in the ‘50s by Oscar Handlin, about the UPROOTED, which emphasizes that immigrants suffer a great deal when they lose their country, family, culture, history and live an alienated existence with great nostalgia. The other concept appears in John Bodnar’s book, in the ‘80s about the TRANSPLANTED, emphasizing that immigrants take root again when they found hybrid institutions which they are able to defend their culture through. These institutions are a combination of their birth culture and the new culture in which they are being reborn: newspapers, churches, businesses, bookstores, schools, professional organizations… We can see that these are gradually disappearing today.