Public talking, 2015

How to Explain History To started off with a simple enough premise: while researching the history taught in Cuba’s schools, I noticed the dominating presence of the USA at every grade level. At the same time, I knew that Cuba hardly even appeared in American history textbooks. Intrigued, I wanted investigate this gap and so I organized a series of public conversations with historians about what a foreigner should know about the history of Cuba.

Yet even a relatively simple premise turned out to be a complicated political issue—while the project began with enthusiasm and support on the part of the participating professors, one by one each participant decided that the project involved too many delicate issues and therefore they felt they couldn’t talk publically. In the end two professors of the Academy of History of Cuba generously shared their perspectives with me, and told me stories of the idiosyncrasies of Cuban contemporary history, issues with archives and historical methodology, the role of legend and secret, revolutionary orthodoxy and censorship.

This project was curated by Sussette Martínez for her exhibition HISTORIA / historias, which took place during the 12th Havana Biennial. The project coordination was realized with the help of Yoanna Toledo and the Academia de la Historia de Cuba.


How to Explain History To, 2015, public conversation, 1 hour 35 minutes.