Kimberly Waller, Ph.D., is a 2022 graduate of the Ph.D. Program in Environmental Studies at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Alesia Maltz, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Libby McCann, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Catherine Murphy, M.S., Committee Member
  • Malinda Wade, Ph.D., Committee Member


Cuba, literacy, oral history, decolonizing, artifacts, archives, Digital Humanities, teachers, youth, campaign, interviews, surveys, illiterates, Spanish, narrative, brigadistas, methodologies, peña

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The 1961 Campaña de la Alfabetización (CLC) [Cuban Literacy Campaign] looms large in the Cuban historical imagination as a moment of transformation, sacrifice, and triumph. Yet, until recently, the unique aspects of the CLC that made it a national success were in danger of being forgotten, thus losing its potential as a model for future ways to mobilize a nation toward an important social goal. The primary objectives of this project were to: (1) expand the scope of the discourse to include a much larger range of lived experiences; (2) collect and preserve lived experiences as shared by the teachers themselves; (3) create a bilingual, digital, community archive, composed of oral interviews, participant ephemera, and survey data; and (4) facilitate access to this data for both public and private scholars. This research examined public history by applying a decolonizing lens to research tools that integrated oral interviews, surveys, short responses, artifact collection, and archival research. Prior research focused on a narrow segment of CLC participants, the urban youth who traveled into impoverished rural areas without running water, electricity, or beds to teach illiterate adults how to read. My approach builds on previous research to include a wider array of teachers who were equally effective in eradicating illiteracy in Cuba. I analyzed conflicting statistics regarding the CLC and provided an explanation of the discrepancies. This research employs decolonizing research methodologies by implementing a culturally responsive, reflexive approach to the research collection and collaboration. Alfabetizadores (teachers) helped shape the interview and survey questions and interviewed each other. Participants continue to assist in curating a digital collection of ephemera, survey data, and oral interviews that will be accessible to the public.


Kimberly Waller

ORCID Scholar ID# 0000-0003-1441-3183


This dissertation is under embargo until 05/09/2023