Fernando Ortiz Fernández, the Third Discoverer

Fernando Ortiz Fernández, the Third Discoverer

Heritage & Traditions


Considered the Third Discoverer of Cuba for his significant contributions to the knowledge of the historical-cultural roots of the island, Fernando Ortiz Fernández is one of the most relevant Cuban intellectuals of all time.

One hundred forty years ago, on July 16, 1881, he was born in the central and busy Havana street of San Rafael, but his childhood was spent in one of the Balearic Islands, in Menorca.

Founder and mentor of institutions that played a cardinal role in the orientation of Cuban historiography towards non-Eurocentric positions, he is also considered an Africanist precursor.

In his work Cuban Counterpoint of Tobacco and Sugar, which was published in 1940, he coined the term transculturation, now widely used in cultural anthropology studies. His field of study and intellectual creation covered aspects as dissimilar as anthropology, jurisprudence, archeology, ethnology, criminology, linguistics, musicology, folklore, economics, history, geography and journalism.

He received his PhD in Law from the universities of Havana and Madrid, and for some years he worked in the Cuban diplomatic service in Europe. He was a tax attorney at the Havana Court and professor of Political Economy and Public Law and Constitutional Law at the Havana University. Professor at the José Martí Popular University, he brought knowledge from there to the most popular sectors of the Cuban nation.

A lecturer in many societies whose objectives were the illustration and the debate of cultural matters, he was and continues to be, Don Fernando -that's what his contemporaries called him- one of the emblematic figures of Cubanity. Author of books that have transcended as classics among researchers and scholars of Social Sciences around the world, his literary and scientific work is synonymous with wisdom, especially on issues that reflect Afro-Cuban historical and cultural roots.

Industrious, creative, deep in analysis, shrewd in reasoning, intelligent and cultured, Fernando Ortiz developed a surprising ability to relate concepts and notions. With these qualities, accompanied by a conscientious patience -this was one of his mottos- he managed to specify and transmit to Cubans and the world an extraordinary and remarkable cultural work.