“Fino,” is a term frequently used by Cubans to evoke anything from refined, fine, educated, picky and glamorous, to elegant, delicate, gay, sexually repressed, and even whiter. Jacqueline Loss will consider how Cubans’ perception of this category reveals their racial, class, and gender anxieties, alluded to in the citation above. Building on diverse discussions on aesthetic judgment, Bourdieu’s Distinction and Sianne Ngai’s analysis of the zany, cute, and interesting for late capitalism, Loss seeks to theorize and historicize another category, “lo fino” (that which is fino), through which Cubans delineate their complex relationships toward capitalist and socialist consumption as well as contrasting modes of comportment that have been affected by distinct ideologies and historical encounters. Wedding artistic practice to cultural studies scholarship, Loss seeks to not only trace the lineage and repercussions of this term for Cubans, but also to show how this aesthetic category is conditioned by place and circumstance. The resulting tapestry composed of interviewees’ words, archival research, and photographs by the internationally acclaimed Cuban photographer, Juan Carlos Alom, begins to tell a story about how a seemingly small, apparently aesthetic category elucidates the intersections among race, gender, and aesthetic theories.
Jacqueline Loss is a professor of Latin American and Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Connecticut. Her publications include Dreaming in Russian: The Cuban Soviet Imaginary (University of Texas Press, 2013), Cosmopolitanisms and Latin America: Against the Destiny of Place (Palgrave, 2005) and the co-edited volumes, Caviar with Rum: Cuba-USSR and the Post-Soviet Experience (Palgrave, 2012, Ed. with Jose Manuel Prieto) and New Short Fiction from Cuba (Northwestern University Press, 2007, Ed. with Esther Whitfield). She has published numerous articles and translated Cuban authors, including Antonio Álvarez Gil, Armando Suárez Cobián, Ernesto René Rodríguez, Jorge Miralles, Anna Lidia Vega Serova, Antonio Álvarez Gil, and Víctor Fowler Calzada.