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I first met Tania Bruguera when she joined the faculty of the University of Chicago in 2004. We immediately hit it off. Her energy, originality and passion for her work was obvious, but right alongside that was a refreshing candour about uncertainties and doubts, and a refreshing modesty about what art and artists are capable of. As our friendship matured, she invited me to come to Cuba for a week to give lectures on ‘art and activism’ to her Cátedra Arte de Conducta (Behaviour Art School, 2002–09) in Havana. I hesitated over this because I regard myself primarily as a scholar, not an activist, and most of my attention to the role of art and visual culture in politics has been focussed on the US and Israel/ Palestine. So I asked Tania if it would be okay for me to bring