La Habana, 27th June 2009
Two important conversations, both related to my work in Anthropology and also the future of my work here in La Habana. One from MLR who wants me to give talks to Docents of various hospitals so that they would be introduced to Medical Anthropology before we introduce the subject to the thousands of students from various countries studying Medicine in Cuba. The second was with RMLG, a woman who singularly was behind the re introduction of Medical Anthropology to this country and has worked tirelessly to have a Masters Degree in Anthropology approved by the Senate of the University and has introduced a whole new generation of students to Anthropology, especially Medical Anthropology which happens to be her favourite as well. Still in Cuba, we don’t have the possibilities of studying Anthropology in depth, so my contributions are an important addition. She had been away, one year travelling the 24 departments of Venezuela, visiting various municipios and trying to undertake a study on the level of poverty in that country. That study took her more than 10 months and this was followed by a two month stay in Spain, mainly in Madrid and Barcelona. Thus our paths have not crossed in a while and now that she is back to stay for a while in the country, we had to rekindle a project dear to our hearts, which is to write a book on Symbolic Healing.
On my medical blog, www.crossculturalendocrinology.blogspot.com I will write more about Symbolic Healing.
RMLG is a good example of a Cuban academic, who dedicates her time to organize the Maestria course here in la Habana, at the same time had completed her Doctorate degree on the Healing aspects of the Yoruba rituals in Cuba. She is a busy mother and wife as well, with a busy husband and four children, one of whom is studying Lyric singing in Barcelona, the youngest is about to enter the Faculty of Dental Medicine here in Cuba.
Because of the inadequate resources or well directed resources in research, research at the socio cultural level thrives in Cuba. The biomedical research is concentrated in Immunology and Vaccine Therapy, Rehabilitation and there are specific institutes dealing with these. There is plenty of research being done in the fields of Psychology, Sociology and now the seeds are sown for Anthropology as well. I am glad to have been a part of this process in Cuba, to enable an anthropological vista of the eeryday life here in cuba.
We have set the date of December 2010, a deadline, for the publication of our book Symbolic Healing. This is a good incentive for me, justifies an intellectual stay in France while working on this, strengthens my connections with Cuba and maintain my academic appointment here.
I remember reading a guyanese intellectual teaching at UWI in Kingston, Rodney by name, talking about the triangular traffic,between metropolitan countries, africa as a source of slaves and the Caraibe as the destination for the slaves to work on plantation whose products would be exported to the metropolis. My triangular life is about to begin: the metropole being Paris, where an intellectual life to complement my intellectual activities in Havana, with field work done and stimulus obtained from my long term friends, the Indians of North America. So for the coming year, I would be fully participating fully in three different cultures: French, Cuban and North American Indian with occasionally touching the general society of North America.
Time for dinner. ALP suggested a newer place, and off we went, the three of us, after CGM joined us. It is called TV Café, and it really looked like an upscale café/nighspot in any of the latin american country, more Panama, because of the expected proportion of Blancos y Negros.. Salsa videos werebeing projected on to the screen, the general noise level grew as the hour became late and just before 10, when the nocturnal activities began, it was time for diners to leave and revellers to enter. Our dinner was tasty and served in an extremely efficient manner and timely and we enjoyed it. It made me feel that the changes in this sphere of entertainment of the people of cuba is good and we can look forward to such newer places all over Havana. For those interested in numbers and always comparing their countries moneda nacional with that of Cuba, that dinner, with a main dish, a juice or beer or a drink, and icecream to follow cost a grand total of 10 dollars!