Pioneros: Building Cuba’s Socialist Childhood

Exploring the Intersection of Politics and Material Culture in Cuban Childhood

On New Year’s Eve 1958, the departure of coup president Fulgencio Batista marked the beginning of a new political era in Cuba. The Cuban Revolution brought about a profound transformation not only in the political and social landscape of the island but also in its material environment, including schools and domestic spaces.

Unveiling the Impact of Politics on Childhood

“Pioneros: Building Cuba’s Socialist Childhood” delves into the intricate relationship between politics and material culture, with a specific focus on the experiences of children. The exhibition presents a vivid portrait of how global and national political forces shaped education, family life, and individual subjectivity through the lens of material artifacts. It documents the Cuban state’s efforts as the sole producer and merchant to mold a socialist New Man, imbued with specific notions of Cubanness, socialism, and modernity. Simultaneously, the exhibition celebrates the boundless inventiveness and creativity that allowed individuals to adapt to or, at times, resist state interventions in their private and domestic spheres.

An Extensive Collection Showcasing Cuban Childhood

Featuring over three hundred items, Pioneros offers a comprehensive display of toys, furniture, books, clothing, appliances, photographs, posters, television shows, recorded music, and children’s ephemera from the 1960s to the 1980s. As an additional perspective, Cuban-born artist Geandy Pavon, a former “pionero,” contributes a series of thought-provoking photographs that critically reflect on his past, seamlessly intertwining it with his present.

An Intimate Glimpse into Socialist Cuba

The exhibition grants visitors an intimate glimpse into everyday life in socialist Cuba, which unfolded behind the Iron/Sugar Curtain, acquainting audiences in the United States with a reality geographically close yet politically distant. Through this exhibition, visitors will encounter familiar and unfamiliar understandings of childhood, shaped by often contentious notions of state and individual rights, privacy, and modernity. These concepts will not remain abstract categories but will come to life as constructs that had a direct impact on the lives of individuals.

Embark on a captivating journey that unravels the complexities of Cuban childhood during the socialist era.

For more information about the exhibition and its featured items, please contact us at [email protected].