The University of Texas at Austin
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Tony Keffler

Tony Keffler
Major: 
Latin American Studies
BDP Certificate: 
Cultural Studies
Graduation: 
Spring 2011

Tony completed the Cultural Studies BDP certificate. Under the supervision of Dr. Frank Guridy (History), Tony researched queer Cuban migratory literature written by Cubans. Specifically, he examined how the literature captured queer identity of Cuban-Americans and their relation to the greater community of Cubans in the U.S.

“I have learned that working on a topic that you are passionate about makes a huge difference on the final quality of your work, but realistic and tangible goals are the key to moving forward with independent research.”

Discuss the process you went through to gain access to different literature.
The Benson Latin American Collection on campus is an amazing resource at the University of Texas, and I spent many hours researching in their stacks. With a plethora of literature to choose from, it was more of a struggle choosing what not to include rather than finding enough literature. In the end, my project focused on the work of Achy Obejas, particularly her novel Memory Mambo, and the short story “We Came All the Way from Cuba So You Could Dress Like This?”

I also did research at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. I attended their annual academic conference on Cuban affairs. Because Miami and South Florida is the home of the largest population of Cuban-Americans in the Unites States, researching in Miami was an obvious choice.

Describe your research project and your interest in the subject area.
My project focused on queer literary production of Cuban-Americans, tying the queer experience of exile from Cuba with the queer lives of LGBTQ Cuban-Americans. As a Latin American Studies student this project interested me on a historical, political and cultural level. Cuba and Cuban exiles have had a very special relationship with the United States and with this project I really got to develop my expertise on Cuban Studies, and especially the history of LGBTQ affairs in Cuba.

How did this experience connect to your BDP?
This experience connected to my Cultural Studies BDP in that I had the opportunity to examine two cultures, the LGBTQ and Cuban-American culture, and their intersections. Through literature, I not only examined this form a cultural expression, but the ways that author represents the societal cultures of queer, exile, of color, and Cuban in her work.

In what ways has this CE shaped your plans for the future?
In the future, I feel more equipped to research and write about a topic at length after this Connecting Experience. I have learned that working on a topic that you are passionate about makes a huge difference on the final quality of your work, but realistic and tangible goals are the key to moving forward with independent research. Also, I have learned the value of getting others perspectives and opinions on your work.