Hanna Garth, M.A. ’09, Ph.D. ’14, has published her first book, “Food in Cuba: The Pursuit of a Decent Meal.” The book follows Cuban families as they struggle to maintain a decent quality of life in Cuba’s post-Soviet welfare state by specifically looking at the social and emotional dimensions of shifts in access to food.
Based on extensive fieldwork with families in Santiago de Cuba, the island’s second largest city, Garth, an assistant professor of anthropology at UC San Diego, examines Cuban families’ attempts to acquire and assemble “a decent meal,” unraveling the layers of household dynamics, community interactions, and individual reflections on everyday life in today’s Cuba.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s and the subsequent loss of its most significant trade partner, Cuba entered a period of economic hardship. Garth tells the stories of families that face the daily challenge of acquiring not only enough food, but food that meets local and personal cultural standards. She ultimately argues that these ongoing struggles produce what the Cuban families describe as “a change in character,” and that for some, this shifting concept of self and sense of social relation leads to a transformation in the society. “Food in Cuba” shows how the practices of acquisition and the politics of adequacy are intricately linked to the local moral stances on what it means to be a good person, family member, community member, and ultimately, a good Cuban.
Garth completed her B.A. with a triple major in anthropology, Hispanic studies and policy studies at Rice University; an M.P.H. in global health at Boston University; and her M.A. and Ph.D. in anthropology at UCLA. She held a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship at the UC Irvine from 2015 to 2016.