Flinders University, Social Sciences South #34 Room 149
Adelaide, SA 5042
Memories of a World Crisis
The Archaeology of a former Soviet Nuclear Missile Site in Cuba
Presented by Mats Burström, Stockholm University, Sweden
Santa Cruz de los Pinos is a small town like most others in the Cuban countryside. But half a century ago – in October 1962 – it was the epicenter of the 1962 Missile Crisis. During that time it served as a Soviet base for middle-range nuclear missiles, and the US air reconnaissance photos of it were spread through media all around the world. The crisis was solved through negotiations without Cuban involvement, and as a result of this neglect the Missile Crisis has been an under-communicated part of history in Cuba. A Swedish-Cuban research project has investigated what kinds of memories of the crisis remain today at the former missile base – in the ground as well as in people’s minds. Digging in the ground has proved to be an effective way to start a remembering process and to help disarm a politically loaded history and uncover other stories than those dominating ‘big history’.
Mats Burström (b. 1962) is Professor of Archaeology at Stockholm University, Sweden. His main areas of interest are the archaeology of the recent past and the relation between material culture and memory. He has also been working with issues arising from the ideology and practice of cultural heritage management. Within these fields of research he has conducted fieldwork in Cuba, Estonia, Germany, and Sweden.