Science Pub-Hawai‘i explores ‘The Body Politic: Cuban Health Care, Sports and Revolution’

September 30, 2013

HONOLULU — Anthropologist and author Ayesha Nibbe will discuss how Cuba has turned the human body into a cornerstone of its revolutionary political ideology, at Science Pub-Hawai‘i, Monday, Oct. 21, at 6 p.m.

Sponsored by HPU, Science Pub-Hawai‘i is held on the waterfront outdoor stage at Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant at Aloha Tower Marketplace, the third Monday of each month. It is an informal showcase of research and scholarship for people who like to learn and discuss timely topics. The event is free, and though no RSVP is required, Science Pub friends are encouraged to let others know they’re coming via Facebook, Bring friends and your questions about the world around us and consider arriving early to enjoy Gordon Biersch’s acclaimed food and drink. Learn more at

Ayesha Nibbe
Ayesha Nibbe

In “The Body Politic: Cuban Health Care, Sports and Revolution,” Nibbe will examine how Cuba links physical health and vitality to the promotion of its revolutionary political ideology. Following the advent of the Revolution in 1959, Cuba — which previously had no showing at the Olympics — began a healthy stream of medal wins through the decades, at one point ranking fifth in the world in medal counts. Cuba also matches or exceeds most high-income countries in globally-measured health indicators – for example, Cuba ranks higher than the U.S. in infant mortality rates.

“Cuba produces ‘First World’ results with ‘Third World’ budgets,” said Nibbe, an assistant professor of anthropology at HPU. “Cuba develops world-class athletes at a fraction of the cost, all without access to the technological resources our top athletes enjoy in the U.S. and Europe.”

Nibbe recently contributed a chapter to a University of California Medical Humanities Press book on the subject, “Health Travels: Cuban Health(care) On and Off the Island.” A dynamic speaker, Nibbe received international notoriety last year for her scholarship around the KONY 2012 phenomenon, the most viral video in Internet history. She was also a panelist on PBS Hawaii’s “Insights” program, contributing to a lively discussion about the impact of the U.S. economic downturn on the American dream.

“Especially at a time when health care costs are torpedoing the U.S. economy, creating massive personal debt and leaving tens of millions out of the system — and this coupled with the developing world being crushed by a collective chronic health crisis due to crippled economies and lack of resources — everyone in the world wants to know: What is Cuba doing to achieve these results?” she said.