The Department of Black and Latino Studies
Room: VC 4-272
Phone: (646) 312-3888
Blog: "El Yuma"
Ted Henken's newest scholarly work, Entrepreneurial Cuba: The Changing Policy Landscape, co-authored with the eminent Canadian economist Archibald R.M. Ritter, will be published in September 2014 by FirstForumPress, an imprint of Lynne Rienner Publishers. For a limited time, you can download this special order form to pre-order our book and get it for over 50% off the list price!
Called "a provocative, compelling, and essential read" by one early reviewer, the book looks at how Cuba has dramatically reformed its policies toward small private enterprise during the presidency of Raúl Castro (2006-present). Weaving in rich ethnographic research and extensive interviews done on the island over the past 12 years with a variety of entrepreneurs (especially private paladar, bed & breakfast, and taxi operators), the book evaluates how and to what extent Raúl's reforms differ from the much more rigid past policies of his "big brother" Fidel.
"Cuba in Focus" (ABC-CLIO, October, 2013) is a new volume on "all things Cuban" co-edited by Ted A. Henken, Miriam Celaya, and Dimas Castellanos. You can read the full preface and see the table of contents here.
In 2008, Henken wrote a previous book entitled Cuba: A Global Studies Handbook (see below), also published by ABC-CLIO. However, when the publishers approached him in late 2010 to do a new edition, he offered instead to recruit and collaborate with a group of Cubans from the island who could give voice to their own analysis of the Cuban Revolution and the heady changes (from above as well as from below) that have taken place there in the last five years.
The book benefits from the collaboration of a host of perceptive and pioneering authors and activists, including the late Óscar Espinosa Chepe, his wife Miriam Leiva, renown blogger Yoani Sánchez, her husband Reinaldo Escobar, Armando Chaguaceda, Regina Coyula, Henry Constantín, Marlene Azor Hernández, Rogelio Fabio Hurtado, Miguel Iturria Savón, and Wilfredo Vallín. Dimas, Miriam, and Henken did their share of writing as well, and Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, Tracey Eaton, Luzbely Escobar, and Uva de Aragón all contributed photos.
Ted's previous book, Cuba: A Global Studies Handbook (ABC-CLIO, 2008), is a comprehensive overview and reference guide to the island's history and culture.
He has also written extensively about the development of micro-enterprise and the underground economy in socialist Cuba, which was the subject of his Tulane University Ph.D. dissertation, “Condemned to Informality: Cuba’s Experiments with Self-Employment during the Special Period” (2002).
In April, 2014, following the AP's story on ZunZuneo, Ted was asked by the New York Times for his take on the pros and cons of this "Cuban Twitter" program set up by the USAID. You can read his answer to the question, "When is foreign aid meddling?" at the Times' "Room for Debate" page, where he begins by saying, "When it undermines local voices." A longer version of his response is available on his blog.
He also recently published an article in Spanish about the Cuban Internet and emergent Cuban "blogosphere" in the journal Nueva Sociedad. He also recently guest edited volume 15 of the independent digital Cuban magazine Voces, dedicated to the Internet and digital media in Cuba. He has also published articles in the journals Cuban Studies, Latin American Research Review, Latino Studies, Encuentro de la Cultura Cubana, and in multiple editions of Cuba in Transition.
He has published book reviews and book articles as well, including, "From Cyberspace to Public Space? The Emergent Blogosphere and Cuban Civil Society," co-authored with Sjamme van de Voort, forthcoming in June 2014 in A Contemporary Cuba Reader: The Revolution Under Raúl Castro.
Previously, he published (in Spanish),“In Search of ‘Generation Y’: Yoani Sánchez, the emergent blogosphere, and citizen journalism in Today’s Cuba,” in Buena Vista Social Blog: Internet and Freedom of Expression in Cuba (2010).
His work on Cuba's struggling entrepreneurs appeared as, "Vale Todo: In Cuba's Paladares, Everything is Prohibited but Anything Goes," in A Contemporary Cuba Reader: Reinventing the Revolution (2008).
Henken is the current President of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE) and is frequently interviewed by leading internetional newspapers and media outlets on Cuba, including The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, CNBC, the AP, Reuters, The Miami Herald, and the BBC's "The World" program, among others. He has also served as a consultant about Cuba for Freedom House, The Boston Red Sox, CNN, and the U.S. Department of State.
Professor Henken holds a Doctorate from Tulane University's Roger Thayer Stone Center for Latin American Studies. He is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Latin American Studies with a dual appointment in the Department Black and Latino Studies at Baruch College, City University of New York.
A past winner of Baruch College's Presidential Excellence Award in Distinguished Teaching (2007), Henken specializes in courses on contemporary Cuban culture and society, sociology of the Internet, contemporary Latin America, Latinos in the U.S., racism and ethnic relations, the sociology of religion, international migration, and comparative urban studies courses on Havana, New York, and New Orleans.
One of his most popular and original courses, "The City that Care Forgot: The Roots, Ruin, and Rebirth of New Orleans," is an annual spring semester honors seminar that includes a 10-day service-learning trip from "The Big Apple" to "The Big Easy," where he leads his students 0n a variety of civic engagment and educational activities.
Currently, Henken's research focuses on the Internet in Cuba, assessing the depth, breadth, representativeness, and social impact of the Cuban blogging phenomenon. His project, “In Search of Generacion Y: Citizen Journalism, The Cuban Blogosphere, and the Future of Cuban Civil Society,” is particularly interested in how Cuban bloggers are connected to other new autonomous cultural and social projects and movements in today’s Cuba and how they might together contribute to the strengthening of Cuban civil society.
Henken began following the blogósfera cubana in 2008, initially drawn in by Yoani Sánchez’s innovative blog Generación Y. Since then, he has travelled to Cuba to interview Sánchez and had the great privilege of hosting Sánchez on her first-ever visit to the United States in March 2013, accompanying and interpreting for her during visits to Columbia University, Bloomberg, Google, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reporters Without Borders, Cardozo Law School, The Cato Institute, Georgetown University, and the U.S. Congress.
As part of this on-going research project and in order to contribute to this growing on-line dialogue and debate about Cuba, Henken started his own blog, "El Yuma," in October of 2009. In December, 2009, Henken appeared at “The Inter-American Dialogue” in Washington, D.C. as part of the symposium, “Cuba and New Technologies.”
Video streaming of the event is available on C-Span.
Henken has promoted scholarly and cultural exchanges with Cuba through Tulane University’s Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute and the non-profit cultural exchange group CubaNOLA Arts Collective. In the mid-1990s, he worked for Catholic Social Services in Mobile, Alabama, helping to resettle Cuban refugees from the U.S. Naval Station at Guantánamo Bay.
Henken lives in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City with his wife Tasia and their dog Molly. He travels as frequently as he can to Cuba, having visited nearly 20 times since 1997. However, his last, extremely fruitful visit in April 2011 - during which he interviewed scores of bloggers and private entrepreneurs - did not end very well!
Travelling to Cuba yourself?
Click here to download Professor Henken's (now slightly outdated) underground guide to the island, "Notes from the Underground."