Merilee Grindle, director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University, recently announced the arrival of Cuban scholar Rafael M. Hernández Rodríguez as the 2006-07 Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) Visiting Professor in Latin American Studies. Grindle, who is also the Edward S. Mason Professor of International Development at the Kennedy School of Government, welcomed Hernández, a senior research fellow at the Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo de la Cultura Cubana Juan Marinello in Havana, and noted, “The center is delighted to welcome Rafael M. Hernández to our faculty. He is a scholar of international stature who will add measurably to Harvard’s expertise in the history and development of Cuba.”
Hernández, who is also a professor and researcher at the University of Havana, the Instituto Superior de las Relaciones Internacionales (ISRI) Raúl Roa García, and the Centro de Estudios sobre América (CEA) in Cuba, will be in residence at Harvard in the Department of History during the fall 2006 semester. He is a scholar of Cuban and U.S. policies, inter-American relations, international security, migration and Cuban culture, society, and politics, and is co-editor of “U.S.-Cuban Relations in the 1990s,” with Jorge I. Domínguez (Westview Press, 1989) and the founding editor of TEMAS, a Cuban quarterly in the field of social sciences and the humanities. A published poet and playwright, Hernández was the editor and founder of Cuadernos de Nuestra América, the journal published by the Centro de Estudios sobre América, where he was director of North American studies for 18 years.
Each year, the center invites Harvard University faculty members to nominate eminent scholars or practitioners for the Robert F. Kennedy Visiting Professorship in Latin American Studies. The RFK Visiting Professorship was created in 1986 through a generous gift from Edmond Safra and the Republic of New York Corp. The endowment enables Harvard to regularly invite prominent Latin American scholars from any field. Hernández is the second Cuban scholar to hold this appointment. In 2002, the renowned Cuban architect and urban planner Mario Coyula Cowley was named as an RFK Professor in the Graduate School of Design.
While at Harvard, Hernández will teach an undergraduate course in the Department of History titled “Cuba: Culture and Society” (History 1733) as well as the graduate course “United States-Cuban Relations” (History 2733 or ISP-238). About his arrival on campus and the significance of his residency at Harvard this semester, he commented: “Teaching on U.S.-Cuban relations and contemporary Cuba to Harvard students, and sharing it with faculty and many old colleagues in the field of Latin American studies, will certainly be a unique learning experience.”