The aim of this pilot study was to investigate the role of schools in reproducing privilege in socialist Cuba and within its diaspora. It focused in particular on the academically selective VI Lenin Secondary School (‘La Lenin’), founded in Havana in 1972, as it has a significant role in the reproduction of privilege. Today, La Lenin remains a prestigious leadership-training boarding school for 11 to 18 year olds, specialising in science and technology. Previous research on the Cuban diaspora in Spain indicated that some alumni of La Lenin and similar schools in Cuba were able to cultivate networks that enabled them to maintain their relative class position transnationally.
This project examined the extent to which schools like La Lenin represent a continuation of the pre-revolutionary education system, where private, Catholic schools educated Cuba’s ruling class, as well as the means by which La Lenin maintains status in a context of social and economic changes in Cuba. It also explored the degree to which graduates of the school are able to reproduce the social and cultural capital accrued through their schooling in a transnational context. In doing so, this research offers a window into changes in Cuban society and education from the 1970s through to the new millennium from the perspective of those who have lived through them.
Mette Louise Berg
The John Fell/OUP Fund
COMPAS Blog (5 March 2013, 11 November 2014)
This project draws on literature on transnationalism, diasporas and mobilities, as well as on Goffman’s work on total institutions, and the anthropology of education and of social memory.
The research was based on ethnographic interviews, participant observation, cyber ethnography, and a review of testimonies, memoirs and other texts.