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Maya BerryMaya Berry

Maya J. Berry received her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Texas, Austin, in 2016. At Yale she will continue the work of her dissertation, Afro-Cuban Movement(s): Performing Autonomy in “Updating” Havana, which investigates the performative effects of black artists working professionally in both sacred and secular settings as Cuba “updates” its political economy. She has been appointed assistant professor of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, beginning in the 2017 – 2018 academic year. -- ism.yale.edu/people/maya-berry

Maya J. Berry (maya.berry@utexas.edu) (Ford Foundation Fellow 2011–2014) is a third generation Cuban-American and an artist-scholar of Afro-Cuban dance. She completed her Master’s degree in Performance Studies at NYU and is currently a doctoral candidate of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin in the African Diaspora Program. She is a recipient of the 2015 Zora Neale Hurston Travel Award from the Association for Feminist Anthropology. Her current work explores Afro-Cuban performance practices and self organization strategies as a window into the nature of Black representation and self-making in the Americas. Previous work on the management and production of “national culture” has been published in the Afro-Hispanic Review. -- “Salvándose” in Contemporary Havana: Rumba’s Paradox for Black Identity Politics  3/1/2015 Black Diaspora Review

“Salvándose” in Contemporary Havana: Rumba’s Paradox for Black Identity Politics  3/1/2015 Black Diaspora Review: "In the scholarship of anti-racist struggle in Cuba, rumberos (rumba practitioners) are typically ignored for operating within racist folkloric stereotypes that further the commodification and appropriation of Black expressive culture by the state. This ethnographic case study explores how the Afro-religious urban poor in Havana deploy rumba within the sacred sphere to perform an affirming Black cultural difference and create an alternative market in which to secure autonomous economic and socio-spiritual sustenance: salvándose (saving themselves). This particular form of political agency finds itself in a paradoxical relationship with the dominant ideological thrust of the “New Afro-Cuban movement” against racism. Using performance theory, Black feminism(s), and political economy, this study found that performances by and for this overlooked sector in the sacred sphere cannot be dismissed as insignificant vis-à-vis antiracist objections to the narrow social definition of Blackness as folklore and the increasingly narrow opportunities for Afro-Cubans in the emerging private market. A performance-oriented lens can offer key insights into how alternative Black political consciousness is developed and transmitted across generations."

Articles/Artículostop

Carlos Mateu and Maya Berry dancing a Son Cubano.
Maya Berry - "Cabildo Performance as Pedagogy: Race, Gender, Memory and Death in Contemporary Cuba"  3/28/2017 Yale: talk by Maya Berry

REVIEW: “Antiracism in Cuba.” By MAYA BERRY  1/1/2017 Cuba Counterpoints: "As a cultural historian, Benson analyzes visual materials found in the Cuban press, a technique similar to that found in Louis A. Pérez Jr’s Cuba in the American Imagination: Metaphor and the Imperial Ethos (2008). Her inclusion of political cartoons, visual slogans, and their vivid description are a key strength of the text, which she supplements with oral histories (particularly of Afro-Cuban women). Benson highlights the making of lasting archetypes, like the loyal black revolutionary martyr and Fidel as paternalistic savior, promulgated during the legendary literacy campaign in 1961 and the antidiscrimination campaign of 1959. The black martyr lingers as metaphor for the (im)possibilities of autonomous black political mobilization within the revolution."

Maya Berry, 'Una Rumba Pa’ochun: Race, Folklore and Syncopation in an ‘Updating’ Cuba'  1/27/2016 University of North Carolina: "As public discourse anxiously surrounds the “updating” process in Cuba, there is much attention on the macro-policies and reforms of the Cuban political economy and the “normalization” of relations with the U.S. Using ethnography, black feminism and performance theory to read “against the grain,” this paper insists that important bottom-up understanding about the current moment is gained when we look at how black body-politics collectively move through the changing political, economic and social landscape. Rumba performance, by and for practitioners of Afro-Cuban religion, takes center stage in this ethnography as a strategic resource for navigating the “updating” rhythm of the nation."

“Salvándose” in Contemporary Havana: Rumba’s Paradox for Black Identity Politics  3/1/2015 Black Diaspora Review: "In the scholarship of anti-racist struggle in Cuba, rumberos (rumba practitioners) are typically ignored for operating within racist folkloric stereotypes that further the commodification and appropriation of Black expressive culture by the state. This ethnographic case study explores how the Afro-religious urban poor in Havana deploy rumba within the sacred sphere to perform an affirming Black cultural difference and create an alternative market in which to secure autonomous economic and socio-spiritual sustenance: salvándose (saving themselves). This particular form of political agency finds itself in a paradoxical relationship with the dominant ideological thrust of the “New Afro-Cuban movement” against racism. Using performance theory, Black feminism(s), and political economy, this study found that performances by and for this overlooked sector in the sacred sphere cannot be dismissed as insignificant vis-à-vis antiracist objections to the narrow social definition of Blackness as folklore and the increasingly narrow opportunities for Afro-Cubans in the emerging private market. A performance-oriented lens can offer key insights into how alternative Black political consciousness is developed and transmitted across generations."

Carlos Mateu and Maya Berry dancing a Son Cubano.  3/28/2013 YouTube: "Maya and Carlos live in NY, they agreed in Cuba for different reasons (Carlos exhibiting his art work and Maya studying). Maya accepts the invitation of Carlos for dancing in its exhibition of art at The Elementary School of Music "Paulita Concepcion" in El Cerro, Havana."

Current Transnational Research I: Historical and Cultural Flows  11/4/2011 AfroLatin@ Forum: "Maya Berry is a third-generation Cuban-American and an artist-scholar of Afro-Cuban dance. She completed her Master's degree in performance studies at New York University and is currently a doctoral student of anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. A Ford Foundation Fellow, her work looks at the performance and management of ‘national culture’ as a window into the nature of Afro-Cuban representation within both the nation-state and the national imaginary of Cuba from abroad. Her aim is to contribute to conversations about the hindrances and avenues to the increased political participation of African descendants in the Americas."

 

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chroniclevitae.com/people/435179-maya-berry/profile

www.linkedin.com/in/mayajberry

 

 

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