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Sites that speak: Miami through its performing arts spaces.


This digital humanities project takes a historical look at how cultural production has helped cement a not always evident sense of place in Miami.


The initial focus is that of spaces of performing arts in the mid-twentieth century and particularly the periods of 1930-1950, and 1950s - 1970s. We locate, research, and share cultural history through geographic spaces or ‘landmarks’ – sites where artists, including visual artists, dancers, musicians, and actors/actresses, have lived, produced work, or visited. The ultimate goal is to publish an online, nonlinear, multimedia platform in which the spaces tell their own multiple stories; in other words, we aim to let the sites “speak,” trace, and perform their history. In so doing, the spaces in this cultural mapping will also tell the story of Miami’s geography of inequality and its transformation into a multilingual “world city.” The featured spaces will be used as a springboard to map intangibles such as memories, attitudes towards language use, and personal histories of commemoration of achievements and individual and collective rites of passage as well as processes of discrimination, exile and re-territorialization.

Rich multimedia materials attached to these locations include the following: 1) photographs of the interior and exterior of sites; 2) photographs of these sites now and before they became sites for Spanish-language performances; 3) newspaper clippings where the sites are mentioned; 4) digital versions of cultural programs; 5) digital versions of publicity material when available; 6) photographs and/or short video clips of performers and performances in the different sites; 7) oral histories.

Coordinating this project are Dr. Lilian Manzor (University of Miami, Modern Languages and Literature) who has a received a grant from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish a sustainable technical, organizational, and intellectual property infrastructure for the Cuban Theater Digital Archive, and Ms. Lara Stein-Pardo of Mapping Miami (, a non-profit funded by the Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator from the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners.