This article examines Alejo Carpentier's novel ¡Écue-Yamba-Ó! within the historical context of Pan Americanism, particularly the First Pan-American Conference on Eugenics held in Havana in 1927. The conference aimed to establish a set of criteria for identifying so-called degenerates throughout the hemisphere. But, while this was taking place, Carpentier was imprisoned in a nearby Havana jail, surrounded by the Afro Cubans who had been labeled degenerates and criminals by the Cuban state. I read ¡Écue-Yamba-Ó! as a rebuttal to the eugenicists and the state since it presents a unified vision of black labor in the hemisphere.


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