|Photo by Hannah Bahnmiller|
On September 23rd, a group of students ranging from Urban Planning, Architecture, to Government studies embarked upon a 10 day journey through Havana, Cuba with the Mellon Collaborative Studies Fellowship program. Through a series of readings and seminar discussions, we attempted to apply the theoretical underpinnings of the course to Cuba's urban environment. Applying what we experienced in class though became difficult. Laden with the unexpected, the trip was much more than a formal study of the urbanization of Havana.
From the onset, we we're met with a tour guide named Vladimir (Vlad for short) who later admitted that our group was unique to him. As the days passed our relationship with him matured into something new for everyone. We weren't quite tourists neither were we researchers: our presence functioned somewhere in between these roles. For example, the question of "otherness" and ethics played a major role during a visit to the communities (El Fanguito) along the Almendares river bank, where Santeria "rule of the saints" an Afro-Cuban religion is practiced.
|Photo by Christine Kim|