Decentralization process of socio-cultural work in Cuba : from the normed urban world to the social, rural and provincial margins of Caribbean socialism.

Début du projet : septembre 2017, sous la direction de la Prof. Silvia Mancini. Partenaires institutionnels : Université de La Havane ; Instituto de Antropologia- La Havane. Ce projet n’a pas encore reçu de financements.

Abstract : In line with extending earlier research, supported by the University of Lausanne and undertaken in Cuba in 2011, our project concerns the activities developed by four Cuban socio-cultural centres having heterogeneous legal status, but all engaged in thought and field work aimed at resolving certain contradictions linked to the situation that the country is now experiencing. Their method of intervention is based on a strategic use of culture (plastic arts, literature, music, religious traditions – including traditions of African and popular origin) considered as an ‘antidote’ to the process of social de-solidarization that is threatening the country, as a vector of the inclusion of diversity, as well as the improvement of the economic conditions of life.

The following hypothesis establishes and orientates our research: if the reinforcement of cultural capital, including the many forms of ‘diversity’ sprung from Cuban national history, is achieved through a method of popular education that speaks the language of artistic creativity and religious expression, it can constitute a powerful catalyst to promote participative democracy, reduction of certain forms of marginalization, redistribution of decisional capacity, and empowerment of citizens in managing common goods. Such a reinforcement goes together with the promotion of inclusion and tolerance, the prevention of violence and discriminations, the reinforcement of links of solidarity and collective values, and a distinct improvement of the quality of life. Through the ethnographic study of four Cuban sociocultural centres, it will be a question of mapping their operational mode and understanding the reasons for their efficacy. We propose, in this situation: a) to objectify and formalize the specific modalities of intervention of these centres in order to model their logic and applications; b) to associate with the study, conducted on the field jointly by Swiss and Cuban researchers, the actors-activists of these four programs to reinforce, by methodological thinking that feeds back from their accumulated empirical experience, the transforming impact of these programs on their users- beneficiaries; c) to export this operational mode to the national scale, if its impact proves encouraging from the viewpoint of the effects of a real decentralization of decisional levers on socio-cultural activity, notably in regions little reached by the cultural initiatives that proliferate in the capital.

By following the method of research-action, and by taking advantage of the resources of the audiovisual tool, we aim to construct a general model of intervention on the life of outlying urban districts, provinces and rural communities, intended to promote the capacity to assume responsibilities, actively re-appropriate certain endogenous resources and thus create, in a participatory, recreational and progressive mode, the conditions for a more ‘robust’ self-managing and civic awareness.

Key-words: Cuba; socio-cultural projects; popular education; African cultural traditions, rituality; popular art and Art Brut; audio-visual; historical memory.