Becoming “Professional” Socialists: The Cuban-Soviet Collaboration for Development


This trip to Cuba was an exploratory research trip in which I visited archives to determine the possibility of transforming my research topic into a dissertation proposal. While in Havana, I visited the following archives: Fundacion Antonio Nunez Jimenez, Instituto de Literatura y Linguistica, Biblioteca Central de la Universidad de La Habana, Sala Cubana at the Biblioteca Nacional Jose Marti, (hereafter BNJM), Digital Collections at the BNJM, as well as books and periodicals of the BNJM. I also conducted preliminary interviews with individuals who studied in the former Soviet Union, as well as with Russian nationals who emigrated to Cuba in the 70s and 80s via Cuban spouses. Through this research, I gained a better sense of the documentary evidence for my topic and the possibilities to expand my research topic. Similarly, through conversations with interviewees, I gained an overview of the process of exchange through which Soviet scientists came to Cuba, and Cuban students went to study and conduct research in the Soviet Union and the consequences of their time abroad for their careers. This information would not be accessible without being physically present in Havana to jump from archive to archive in order to track down complete sets of documents. Similarly, the conversations that so enlightened my understanding of the process of exchange between Cubans and Soviets could not have been achieved without individuals putting me in contact with their colleagues or introducing me to them in their workplace. My findings will be used to develop dissertation grant proposals, in which I will suggest that the collaboration between Soviet and Cuban scientists helped to create a professional class in Cuba who gained additional access to upward mobility, undercutting the efforts to create an egalitarian socialist society.

Clarissa Ibarra
Publication date: 
August 18, 2017
Publication type: 
Student Research