DOI link for Introduction
This book is about how Cubans interact, refer to, and imagine the sky and/or aerial spaces, sometimes indirectly, poetically, and metaphorically, at other times in a material and practical way. Aerial imagination is defined as being constituted of stories, objects, dreams, and practices that resonate with what is above our heads, from rooftops and birds and bees, to dreams, sound waves, and electromagnetics. The exploration of the Cuban aerial imagination concentrates on five seemingly disparate objects and phenomena—wi-fi antennas, cactuses, pigeons, the lottery, and the conga—which became a leitmotif to create five different “illustrated ethno-fiction stories,” all related to the sky. Each story provides a complex and specific exploration of how a series of characters imagine the sky as a space of circulation through the lens of one of the objects or phenomena selected. Collaboration with Cuban artist José Manuel Fernández Lavado allowed to engage visually with vehicles and pathways that direct our gaze upwards “into the sky and air.” Ethnographic fieldwork was based in Santiago de Cuba, a city located on the eastern end of Cuba. With the death of Fidel Castro, the resignation of his brother Raúl Castro and the recent regime in place, Cuba is undergoing a time of rapid transformation.