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Cuban Expert to Lecture on Cultural Studies


In June, when a delegation of SUNY Cortland officials traveled to Cuba in search of educational partnerships, one of the people they met with was Wilfredo Benítez Muñoz, head of a non-profit group that promotes Cuban artists and links them with international communities.

Muñoz, an expert in the visual arts, independent cinema and cultural studies, will represent the growing strength of SUNY Cortland’s connection with the once-forbidden island nation when he visits the College on Sept. 20-21.

His lecture, “Documenting Cuba Through Cultural Programs: A Perspective from the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba,” begins at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 20 in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge. The event is free and open to the public.

Muñoz is the executive director of the foundation, which was founded in 1995 by renowned art collectors Peter and Irene Ludwig of Aachen, Germany. The organization has provided Cuban artists with connections to colleagues from around the world and has sought to build bridges of understanding between different cultures. It has put on exhibitions, lectures, seminars and workshops and supported conferences, scholarships and grants for Cuban artists.

“It was inspiring to hear the work done by foundations like the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba while enjoying a view of the eclectic architecture of Havana,” said Alexandru Balas, coordinator of SUNY Cortland’s International Studies Program and director of the College’s Clark Center for Global Engagement. “Cubans are creative people. Only creative people can keep American 1950s cars running when spare parts production ceased decades ago, or are able to turn recycled products into world-famous art exhibits. The Ludwig Foundation documents the many facets of creativity in Cuba. SUNY Cortland is honored to have the executive director of the Ludwig Foundation present to our community the inspiring work he and his colleagues have done in Havana.”

Balas, an assistant professor of international studies, was one of seven administrators, faculty and staff to accompany President Erik J. Bitterbaum to Cuba in June. The visit established a solid foundation with academic partners in communist Cuba for future study abroad opportunities and exchange programs for students and faculty.

Muñoz’s visit to Cortland is the first of potentially many for Cuban academics to share their knowledge and insights on the SUNY Cortland campus.

Muñoz studied economic sciences at the University of Havana in the 1980s. He started his career at the Cuban Institute of Economic Research and later moved to the National Council of Visual Arts in 1989. He has worked with the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba since its founding.

The event is organized by the Clark Center for Global Engagement with support from the President’s Office, the Art and Art History Department, the Latino/Latin American Studies Program and a Campus Artist and Lecture Series (CALS) grant. For more information, contact Balas at 607-753-4823.