The Case of Virgilio Piñera and Wifredo Lam
Fernández de Alba’s chapter presents a synthesis of cosmopolitanism and nationalism by examining the works of Virgilio Piñera and Wifredo Lam, two cosmopolitans sui generis, who participated in the construction of a national Cuban culture. Cosmopolitanism and nationalism are often presented either as an absolute form of universality or as an uncompromising localism, when, in reality, both terms are dynamic cultural categories. In defiance of a homogeneous view of Cuban culture that accentuated the Creole experience of the late colonial period, Piñera and Lam fought against the establishment of a national identity that would elevate a single racial and ethnic heritage over all others. In doing so, the author argues, both writers contributed to a cosmopolitan view on national identity, one based on a wider sense of cultural citizenship. Furthermore, they devoted themselves to creating a national culture that could be cosmopolitan in form while fundamentally rooted in Cuban society and history.
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