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65 5th Ave, Room 411
New York, NY, 10003
United States

Funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography & Social Thought at the New School incubates advanced transdisciplinary research and practice at the intersection of social theory and design and fosters dialogue on related themes across the university.

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María A. Cabrera Arús

María A. Cabrera Arús is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at The New School for Social Research focusing on the relationship between fashion, political discourses, and practices of domination. She collects and blogs on artifacts and memorabilia material culture from Cold War Cuba. 

MARÍA A. CABRERA ARÚS’ research focuses on the impact of fashion on regime stability and domination in Cuba. Her dissertation, Dressed for the Party: Fashion and Politics in Socialist Cuba, explores the material bases of power during the Soviet era and the role of fashion as a locus where private identities were articulated both against and in harmony with political values. Her research not only attends to the mechanisms through which politics is imbued in fashion but also attends to the unintentional production of politics in everyday sartorial practices. In doing this, her research draws attention to alternative practices of negotiation between the state and society, opening new directions in the study of the relationship between citizens and the state in socialist Cuba. 

María is the author of the New Challenge-winning project Material Socialism and the blog Cuba Material, dedicated to the study and collection of the material culture of Cuba from the Cold War era and co­editor of the column “Souvenirs” of Cuba Counterpoints e­journal. She co­curated with Meyken Barreto the exhibition Pioneros: Building Cuba’s Socialist Childhood at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center of Parsons School of Design (September 2015), to explore the material world of the child in socialist Cuba and the efforts of the Cuban state to instill in children a new set of behaviors and ideals. She also co­curated with Jacqueline Loss the exhibition and talk Cuban Finotype and Its Materiality at Cabinet magazine (October 2015), focused on the representations of elegance and refinement in Soviet and post­Soviet Cuba and their importance for regime legitimation.