“Design, Domesticity and Revolution: Transitioning the Cuban Ideal Home”
Over the past fifty-four years, the Cuban Revolution has continually fascinated scholars and non-scholars alike. Yet, studies have focused on either the period before or after the Revolution, as two distinct eras. Instead, this paper, which is part of a larger study, reinforces the idea that design played an integral role in the dissemination of ideology at mid-century by demonstrating the critical role that popular print media played in shaping Cuban society during a shifting ideological context. Through an examination of domestic advice and advertisements found in Cuban popular magazines, this paper explores the relationship between politics and popular media during the period 1950 to 1970, when Cuba transitioned from a quasi-capitalist satellite to a socialist nation isolated from the United States economically and culturally during the revolutionary era.
Images presented in domestic advice and advertisements offer a vivid snapshot of cultural prescriptions for everyday life. Using Roland Barthes’ conception of ideology as one of transforming the “reality of the world into an image of the world,” the images presented in popular media reveal the dominant ideologies of the era. By framing domestic advice and advertisements for the home found in Cuban popular magazines as arbiters of ideology, I illuminate two divergent prescriptions for everyday life: one predicated on the U.S. paradigm of capitalism and the other on a socialist model.