Emilio J. Rodríguez receives Caribbean lifetime award in Cuba 

POSTED: 02/23/15 12:42 AM

St. Maarten —Emilio Jorge Rodríguez, a leading independent Cuban essayist and literary critic, recently won the “Este Caribe Nuestro” Award 2014, at the University of Havana.  Rodriquez is considered one of the leading experts on St. Martin culture and has had books published by local publishing house, House of Nehesi.

The “Este Caribe Nuestro” (This is Our Caribbean), is a lifetime achievement award given annually by the Chair of Caribbean Studies at the University of Havana. Dr. Antonio Romero, president of the Chair of Caribbean Studies, presented the award to Rodríguez on January 26.

“Rodríguez is a proficient trans-Caribbean literary expert. His studies and comparisons of authors and literary cultures from all of the region’s major language zones, including the Kweyol languages, are essential to our understanding of what he has called, ‘the expansion of cultures beyond national administrative boundaries’,” said HNP publisher Lasana M. Sekou.  The “Este Caribe Nuestro” is awarded to personalities such as scholars and artists or institutions, such as cultural organizations, that have made outstanding contributions to the Caribbean region during their lifetime. Rodríguez is 67.

“House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP) has published three books by Rodríguez on Haitian and St. Martin literatures. He’s one of four scholars who can be called experts on the growing literature of St. Martin,” said Sekou. Major publishers such as Editorial Arte y Literatura have published Rodríguez in Cuba. He is a University of Havana graduate with degrees in Spanish and Latin American Literature.

“Rodríguez is not so much a literary critic as a literary historian,” wrote New York University professor Michael Dash in a critical review of Rodríguez’s Haiti and Trans-Caribbean Literary Identity / Haiti y la transcaribenidad literaria (2011). The review appeared in the New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids (2013).  What is generally well agreed on is the essential skills of Rodríguez as a meticulous researcher. In fact, Rodríguez holds the prestigious Researcher degree from the Cuban Academy of Sciences. He has lectured at universities, research institutes, and conferences in Cuba, the USA, Mexico, Venezuela, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Martin, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Barbados, and Germany, said Sekou. Rodriguez was a researcher at Casa de las Américas’ Literary Research Center and the Center of Caribbean Studies, from 1972 to 2000.

He directed the Center of Caribbean Studies from 1994 to 1998, where he founded and edited the journal Anales del Caribe between 1981 and 2000. Rodriguez, who the author Fabian Adekunle Badejo once called an “erudite scholar,” has written articles and essays that have appeared in Casa de las Américas, Bim, Caribbean Quarterly, Cuadernos Americanos, Revue Internationale de Litterature Comparé, Del Caribe, Gaceta de Cuba, Temas, and Universidad de La Habana. He has also received several awards and honors.

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