Returning to Cuba

September 12

Presented by Ruth Behar
7pm : Ludington Public Library

Discover Cuba as Ruth talks about some of her own experiences and reflections on the country she calls home. Born in Havana, Ruth is the author & editor of numerous works that focus on the culture of this island nation & her experiences as a Cuban American. 

WSCC Press Release Announcing the event


Ruth Behar is the Victor Haim Perera Collegiate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan and is known for her humanistic and literary approach to ethnographic writing. Among her honors, she is a MacArthur Fellow*, the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was recently recognized as a “Great Immigrant” by the Carnegie Corporation. Her books include Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza’s Story, The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart, An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba, and Traveling Heavy: A Memoir in between Journeys. Born in Havana, Cuba, she is the editor of Bridges to Cuba and co-editor of The Portable Island: Cubans at Home in the World. Her co-edited book, Women Writing Culture, has become a canonical work in the history of anthropology. Also a creative writer, she is the author of a coming-of-age novel, Lucky Broken Girl, which won the 2018 Pura Belpré Author Award for Latina/Latino literature, and Everything I Kept/Todo lo que guardé, a bilingual collection of poetry.


Ruth Behar is simultaneously poet, scholar, and editor. Readers have a variety of
works to choose from, including:

 Lucky Broken Girl, perhaps the most popular book by Behar, is aimed at upper elementary/middle school readers, but it is capable of introducing adults to a good deal about Cuban culture and immigrant family issues.   

 Everything I Kept: Todo Lo Que Guardé is a powerful book of bilingual prose poems (each of the poems is rendered in both English and Spanish). The style may be new for some readers, but that may also make the content more accessible for poetry novices. The poems are expressive, vivid, and fascinating.

 Behar’s main scholarly work is The Vulnerable Observer, a book-length argument simultaneously defending and explaining the poetic and deeply personal way she practices ethnography.

 An Island Called Home, about the Jewish community in Cuba, is probably the best example of Behar doing ethnography her way. The book is likely to give humankind participants a colorful look at a side of the island they probably know very little about. 

 A great overall book for this year’s focus on Cuba is Bridges to Cuba, an anthology of Cuban writing and art edited by Behar. It includes both creative and scholarly writing as well as visual artworks.