Objective: To research Cuban culture and literature for the purpose of writing a science fiction novel set in Cuba during the next century. Despite the growing Hispanic contributions to the USA, virtually no American science fiction foregrounds Latino culture--let alone that of Cuba, our neighbor country with which the USA still fails to conduct normal relations.
The applicant teaches courses in microbial and human molecular biology, as well as a non-majors course Biology in Science Fiction. She has published six novels of science fiction which explore themes of biology and society that highlight compelling concerns of gender and global climate change. During her sabbatical she will be working on a new science fiction novel set a hundred years from now in a time of severe global climate change. The novel will depict imagined events set in Cuba early in the next century, including scientists at an (invented) biomedical research institute in Havana. Cuba is of interest for its unique and historically strong public health system, as well as its changing sociocultural identity.
Researching Cuban culture is a challenge because Cuban citizens are extremely wary of contact initiated by Americans, who can get them into trouble with their government. Nevertheless, "educators" have a special status and offer a safe place to start. In addition, applicant has contacted several Cuban and Cuban-American writers for background information, including the well known "independent blogger," Regina Coyula.
The applicant now proposes to visit Cuba to experience directly the culture and physical geography, assisted by consultant Judith Kerman. They will undertake a visit through an established program of the Center for Cuban Studies, augmented by private meetings with Cuban individuals known to Kerman. The research will support the writing of a major Latino-themed science fiction novel projecting a plausible direction for Cuba