Bianka Ballina, UC–Santa Barbara / Mount Holyoke College
In November 1975, Cuba embarked on its most ambitious and prolonged internationalist project, launching a large-scale military operation in support of the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). Cuba’s decade-long intervention in Angola extended the revolutionary government’s enduring commitment to proletarian internationalism and South-South solidarity across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In this talk, I examine an array of Cuban and international media productions of the past two decades which attempt to rescue or remember the history of Cuban internationalism in Africa—and Angola in particular—during the Cold War years. These historical media reconstructions take shape in the context of significant ideological, political, and economic transformations both in Cuba and the world over. This talk considers how such media texts divulge and/or conceal the gaps and frictions between past and present understandings of solidarity. I explore how these representations designate Cuba, Africa, and the Global South as geohistorical spaces whose parameters and meanings have shifted considerably since the Cold War.
Bianka Ballina’s research interests include media globalization and its effects on the Global South, Latin American and Latinx media cultures, migrant and transborder media, and gender studies. Her dissertation, entitled "Vital Exports: Mediating Cuban Solidarity and Global South Imaginaries," explores media’s role in the discourses and practices of Cuban internationalism and South-South solidarity since the Cold War. She served as coordinating editor of Media Fields Journal and co-edited the journal’s twelfth issue on media and migration. Her work has been published in Studies in Spanish and Latin American Cinemas, Spectator and the forthcoming Media in the Americas edited collection by Rutgers University Press.