History also moves with the times.

With several faculty members of the Faculty of Philosophy and History, which I had the honor of graduating ten years ago, I have had the same satisfying relationship as with Dr. Francisco López Chiveira, whom students and colleagues call Paquita.

Having received the subject of Cuban history from such wonderful teachers as she and Oscar Loyola Vega, which examines the exciting processes of the socio-political life of the nation, such as the US military occupation, the rise of trade union, student and feminist movements in the 1920s. and the dizzying sequence of events that make up the period known as the Revolution of the Thirty, those of us who attended his lectures in the crucial sophomore year of our undergraduate degree experience a certain coming of age at this crucial stage for our intellectual development. and professional future.

My reunion with Professor López Siveira at the university level took place during the study phase of the Master of Interdisciplinary Studies, in which the rigor of the morning session did not stop us from being dazzled by her Cuban views of the United States. With a well-researched sense of eloquence and uncovering incredibly poignant historiographical sources, Pakita offered us new motivation at a time when the pleasure of learning was combined with the rigors of professional practice.

There has been great joy in the legal arena at the public recognition that Professor Paquita has received in recent months: the Maestro de Juventudes honor awarded by the Hermanos Saíz Association and the National Prize in Social and Human Sciences awarded on the 31st. International Book Fair.

These announcements are not only a tribute to his professional achievements, but also a claim to the venerable figure of a university professor who, with his great human and psychological experience, continues to contribute to the training of good professionals capable of solving the problems of our time. .

How have research and teaching complemented each other in your professional career?

– In fact, both of them are part of my professional activity. Teaching work at the university level requires research as part of the development of teachers, since universities should be centers for the creation of new knowledge and scientific developments. It is essential to keep up to date on what has been done by other historians and at the same time on your own creative work.

“Teachers should work on the development of our science, both in their personal work and through tutoring students, to develop these skills in them. Therefore, these two activities are part of our duty and complement each other.

“There is also my personal taste for the development of both teaching and research, which I have done over the years. This allowed me to contribute to historical knowledge and at the same time educate new historians.”

— How much did teaching monographic courses about José Martí help you both in undergraduate and graduate studies?

— Marty’s studio is always a great growth both individually and professionally. I read Marty for personal pleasure, but I joined the Marty Chair and from there began this research based on my history work. Later, I began to give a special course on José Martí, and for about ten years now I have been the head of this department at the University of Havana, so this is part of my university work.

“The study of Marty is very enriching in all aspects of life, and explaining it forces us to systematize this study, look for new facets, contextualize it … In a word, we must go deeper. To this I must add the active role of students when they analyze texts, discuss them, and sometimes argue. When they promote the thoughts and perspectives of analysis, it leads to personal and professional growth, as well as to them becoming fans of Marty.

How difficult is it to come up with outreach work for a young audience?

“Writing for young people, and indeed for a wide range of readers, is really a challenge, because simplification and schematization should not be allowed. You must maintain scientific rigor and use language that is accessible to that audience, and this leads to careful review of what is written. Often I have tested my writings by giving my children or grandchildren what I am preparing to read to recipients their own age. So I can evaluate the result.

“In this type of writing, it is important to look for attractive wording, especially at the beginning and end, in addition to finding a balance in matters that are dealt with according to their greater and lesser complexity. It is not easy, but it is achievable, and in doing so, a public contribution is made to the spread of History. Reaching the widest possible audience is the contribution that we sociologists must make as part of our work.”

– What importance do you attach to the study of poetry for historical knowledge of the first decades of the twentieth century?

– I worked in detail with this literary phenomenon when conducting courses on the history of Cuba. This is not about studying poetry from a literary point of view, but about seeing how it can represent time or circumstances. There are verses that describe the collective feeling in a few verses and can shed light on different historical stages.

“The ability of many poets (sometimes anonymous) to condense in brief terms the state of mind, opinion, collective feeling is of great value for the study of society; as well as some plastic works and other artistic expressions. This is not just decoration: it is part of the production of those who live in space and time.

Is it possible to enrich the curriculum of a historical career both at the theoretical level and in research practice?

— There is nothing immovable, you always need to think about development in any area in which you work. The career of the Historian is progressing through the Plan E experience, which meant some changes, including cutting her time to four years, although she is also looking for a way to keep up with the times.

“I think that in the near future we will have to analyze the results of this plan, evaluate its effectiveness and weaknesses. It will be the result of collective thinking. Each time brings new challenges and opportunities, and we must go in accordance with this.

— To what extent have your students contributed to the Cuban intellectual environment?

— Many of the active historians left history career classes, first at the School of History of the Faculty of Humanities, and then, with the 1976 structure, of the Faculty of Philosophy and History of the University of Havana. Thus, I had a good portion of our current historians in the classes formed by the faculty to which I belonged for more than 50 years.

“It would be a long time to name names, but I can say that these graduates have made important, innovative results and thus supported the development of our science.”

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Francisco Lopez Chiveira

Source: Juventud Rebelde


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