From Coney Island to la Isla del Coco

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3 Scopus citations


This article analyzes the history and cultural significance of the Cuban Coney Island Park. It argues that the park both allegorizes a series of geopolitical and urbanistic trends true for Havana more generally throughout the twentieth century, and figures as a significant reference for Cuban film, literature, and philosophies of history. It begins by reading Mart and Meza's chronicles about the Brooklyn park, analyzes a 1906 film about El Parque Palatino, el Coney Island cubano, and considers the Republican-era development of both parks and the suburbs of Marianao and Playa, designed to include amusement parks. The article then unearths the history of the Coney Island built in Havana in the 1950s, owned by a US businessman executed in 1961 for conducting counterrevolutionary activities within the park itself. Even as a cold war skirmish unfolded in the real park, in literature José Lezama Lima moved away from such ideologies to introduce amusement parks in his 1966 Paradiso as spaces for reflection on themes of originality, desire and substitution - themes central to the parks themselves, and to Cuba's intellectual tradition. The article ends with a history of post-2008 Chinese-built parks conceived within the Batalla de Ideas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-231
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Latin American Cultural Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History


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