Living Between Hurricanes Commodity Frontiers and Environmental Change in a Challenged Cuban Coastal Region

Development is currently underway for the production of a three-part series of 20-minute documentaries, focusing on the Caibarién-Remedios region of north-central Cuba – with production anticipated for 2019, and release in 2020.

This series will explore how a history of extreme weather events and global commodity frontiers has impacted on the natural environment and livelihood of local communities. Starting with the devastation caused to Caibarién by Hurricane Irma (2017), the series will frame this historically through two other major hurricanes (1846 and 1933) that hit the wider Remedios region both directly and indirectly. Commodity frontiers shifted over time, from forestry and livestock through coffee, tobacco, sugar and fisheries, to today’s international tourism on the keys. As Cuba seeks to reinsert itself into the global economy challenged by such extreme climatic occurrences, the series will seek to examine both the historical circumstances that resulted in the vulnerability of local communities, and their prospects for recovery.

The films will combine testimony from local residents and interviews with experts, location filming, archival footage and sequences narrating the region’s history, partly by drawing on newsreel, documentary and fiction films from the archives of the Instituto Cuban del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC). The films will be written and produced by Prof. Jean Stubbs and Dr. Jonathan Curry-Machado, and directed by Prof. Michael Chanan, and will be produced in both English and Spanish versions, as a collaboration between the Commodities of Empire Project and the Fundación Antonio Nuñez Jiménez in Cuba.

The AHRC has awarded a Research Networking grant, towards the making of this documentary and the related workshops.

For further information concerning this production, please contact Dr Jonathan Curry-Machado.