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'The Mula Ring': Material Flows of Circulation Through the Cuban World

Cearns, Jennifer Helen; (2020) 'The Mula Ring': Material Flows of Circulation Through the Cuban World. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis explores the permeability of what is arguably one of the most politicised and reified ‘frontiers’ in the world: that between the U.S. and Cuba. Despite decades of diplomatic hostilities and economic sanctions, the border between Miami and Havana is in a state of constant flux, with ceaseless flows of both people and things moving in both directions. Drawing upon fifteen months of ethnographic research primarily in Miami and Havana (2017-2018), and also in Panama, Mexico and Guyana, this thesis traces these ‘flows’ to understand how and why these material and digital flows constitute everyday life for millions of Cubans who, notwithstanding this political rhetoric, seek to maintain personal and business relationships. The thesis presents personal stories based on these flows to examine the shifting relationship between Cuba and its diaspora. Cubans in both Miami and Cuba are negotiating materiality and digital networks within their own plural notions of cubanidad (‘Cubanness’), capitalism and socialism, and according to their own geopolitical and socioeconomic contexts. By focusing on the inconsequential objects of the everyday, and centring on notions of ‘flow’ and ‘flux’, this thesis seeks to show how a politically and economically turbulent landscape is experienced and reconfigured at a micro level by ordinary Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straits who, by the happenstance of their birth right, must negotiate extraordinary and difficult conditions on a daily basis to maintain their family connections, cultural identity, and ultimately, to live what they consider to be meaningful lives. The thesis shows how it is only through a slippage in traditional categories of ‘people’ and ‘things’ that such flows are made possible, and then positions this observation within theoretical arguments that situate rupture as crucial for the emergence of new cultural forms.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: 'The Mula Ring': Material Flows of Circulation Through the Cuban World
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10094236
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