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FIU’s Cuban Research Institute to provide temporary safe haven to threatened scholars from Cuba

FIU’s Cuban Research Institute to provide temporary safe haven to threatened scholars from Cuba

Funded by a $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the program will offer fellowships to artists, writers, scholars and journalists to complete their work in the U.S.

January 13, 2023 at 2:04pm


FIU’s Cuban Research Institute (CRI) has received a $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to provide temporary academic refuge to artists, writers, scholars and journalists facing serious threats to their lives, liberty and well-being in Cuba.

The Fellowship Program for Threatened Cuban Scholars in the Humanities will cover relocation expenses to the U.S. for each scholar and their families and provide a stipend, as well as academic and administrative support, for up to one semester. The goal is to bring 12 scholars to FIU over a three-year period, beginning in the Fall of 2023. The application process is now open.

Jorge Duany, director of CRI, said the program is geared toward scholars who have faced “severe threats” because their work in literature, the arts or journalism has “challenged the status quo” of the regime in Cuba.

“These threats include the risk of persecution, incarceration or banishment as a result of the scholar’s ideas, public interventions or participation in peaceful demonstrations,’’ Duany explained. “We’re very grateful to the Mellon Foundation for supporting the first comprehensive program for threatened Cuban scholars in the United States at FIU.’’

One of the goals of the initiative is to create a dialogue about the precarious state of intellectual freedom – including freedom of thought and expression – in Cuba, the U.S. and around the world, Duany said.

While at FIU, the scholars will be encouraged to give lectures, participate in panel discussions and conferences, and organize art exhibitions, concerts, film screenings and other educational or cultural activities, all of which will be free and open to the public.
Each scholar will submit a proposal on the scholarly, artistic or cultural work they plan to do while at FIU, along with a CV and letters of recommendation. 
Applicants will be reviewed based on their academic achievements, as well as the risk they face due to their scholarly work. A panel of Cuban studies scholars from CRI will select the fellows.
The scholars will be part of the Mellon Foundation’s broader Crossing Latinidades Humanities Research Initiative, which supports collaborative research among 16 Hispanic-serving institutions that are designated as R-1, or having very high research activity.

In addition to their work at FIU, the resident scholars at CRI will also travel to other educational institutions that are part of the consortium, including the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC) and the City University of New York (CUNY) for collaborative research, lectures or networking.

This is the second grant the Mellon Foundation has awarded to CRI through its Crossing Latinidades initiative, bringing the total awarded to just over $1 million. The previous grant was awarded in August and is being used to study Latino identities, specifically Cubans, Dominicans, and Puerto Ricans in Miami, New York City, and Orlando.

“We are excited about the possibilities created by this new initiative and hope to do even more to support threatened scholars from Cuba and around the world,’’ said Shlomi Dinar, interim dean of the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs, which houses CRI. “We want to be a refuge for scholars who do not enjoy the academic freedoms that we do. We want to support their efforts, encourage their work and give them a voice.”