Portraits of Cuba

Daniel Duncan, Marcela Vásquez-León, and Dereka Rushbrook

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Scenes from Havana to Santiago  
“This vibrant work explores everyday life in contemporary Cuba. . . . The accessibly written entries are packed with information. . . . Those interested in Cuban culture, as well as armchair travelers, will find plenty to appreciate.”—Publishers Weekly
“Duncan's photos take over the pages, and alongside the colorful visuals is an equally colorful narrative.”—Miami New Times
“Cuba is one of the most photogenic places in the world, and Duncan’s work does full justice to the visual banquet of its streets.”—Richard Schweid, author of Che’s Chevrolet, Fidel’s Oldsmobile: On the Road in Cuba  
“An introduction to the culture of Cuba and insight into the survival of a sovereign nation through a U.S.-sanctioned embargo and scarcity of resources.”—Byron Motley, author of Embracing Cuba  
“Offers visual and literary insight into Cubans’ extraordinary resilience and resourcefulness, and their ability to wring pleasure out of paucity in the face of an eight-decades-old U.S. embargo.”—Christopher P. Baker, author of Cuba Classics: A Celebration of Vintage American Automobiles
Through an abundance of dynamic photographs, Portraits of Cuba depicts the experiences of Cubans of different ages and walks of life who are navigating the challenges and changes transforming the island today.  
From the vintage colonial architecture and potholed streets of Havana to the farms and winding highways of the countryside, images by documentary photographer Daniel Duncan capture daily life across the nation. Expert commentary by Marcela Vásquez-León and Dereka Rushbrook describes the history of el bloqueo, the economic embargo imposed by the U.S. government in 1960. The book also features selections from interviews with Cubans who highlight how the island residents continue to invent, adapt, and persevere in the face of this and other complicated circumstances.  
Duncan’s photographs represent many aspects of the arts, religion, politics, public messaging, agriculture, and the economy in contemporary Cuba. Despite issues such as limited natural resources, dependence on imports, climate change and rising sea levels, and the departure of many of its young people, the island has emerged as an innovative player in addressing today’s global problems. The authors note how the advances made by Cuba’s sustainable farmers, scientists, medical teams, and literacy campaigns are models throughout the developing world.  
Portraits of Cuba celebrates the ingenuity, solidarity, and deep-rooted resilience of the Cuban people, illustrating how they are creating their own form of democracy in the long shadow of the 1959 Cuban Revolution and the 60-year blockade.  
Daniel Duncan is an award-winning photographer and filmmaker who has produced more than 150 documentaries for PBS, including the series In the Americas with David Yetman and The Desert Speaks. Marcela Vásquez-León is associate professor of anthropology and director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Arizona. Dereka Rushbrook is associate professor of geography and director of the study abroad program Contemporary Cuba: Collective Visions at the University of Arizona.
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