Interview with Director of Latin American Studies at the University of Florida, Dr. Helen Safa

Florida Folklife Collection
Two audio cassettes. (Copy can be found in S 1576, box 39, tape 31.) Safa was director of the Center of Latin American Studies, 1980-1985. A Columbia University graduate, Safa taught at UF until 1997. She has written extensively about gender and Latin America. In the interview she discusses Latin American influences on Florida and its culture. Side 1 (C82-1): Safa discusses "quince" celebrations, godparents, New Year's Traditions, the close relationship between Florida and the Caribbean, the history of Caribbean immigration in the U.S. and Florida; and modern-day Cuban, Haitian, and Puerto-Rican immigration. Also, Safa presents a historical sketch of Caribbean cultures; Chango, Santeria, and Voodoo religions in Caribbean culture. Side 2 (C82-1): Safa discusses cultural assimilation amongst Caribbean immigrants in the U.S.; rites of passage and celebrations used to reaffirm group identity; "Quinces;" the outlawing of Santeria and other religions in Cuba after the revolution; different US immigrant groups' identification with their Caribbean heritages, like in New York and Miami. Side 1 (C82-2): Safa compares Miami's cultural assimilation when compared with countries like China and India; Cuban immigrants in Florida who immigrated to the US before the 1960s, during Battista's governance; studies on the Mariel boatlift; and Cuban Mafia groups who moved to Florida after Castro's takeover and their role in Florida's exile anti-Castro organizations. She also talks about the importance of retaining traditions for immigrants; the political and economic crises in Caribbean countries; and the immigrants' viewpoints on America.
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