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Rebel Dance, Renegade Stance

Timba Music and Black Identity in Cuba

Umi A. Vaughan

Publication Year: 2012

Published by: University of Michigan Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-iv

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pp. vii-x

As I left for Cuba, many questioned why I would expose myself to what seemed to them a dangerous situation in a “far away,” “communist,” “poor,” “Third World” country, and for such a long time. I especially recall the playful, yet serious teasing of my grandfather who would say,...

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pp. xi-xii

There are many people to recognize for their help in bringing this work to fruition. Thanks to my editor at the University of Michigan Press, Ellen Bauerle. Thank you to Kim Butler for opening doors and to Yvonne Daniel for her generous suggestions. Thanks to Barbara Polcyn...


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p. xiii

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1. Introduction: Dancing & Being

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pp. 1-10

It makes sense to study Cuban culture through music and dance because in Cuba they are everywhere; the two are as elemental as water and air. Particularly popular dance music, with contributions from all of Cuba’s ethnic components (African, Hispanic, Chinese, indigenous...

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2. Timba Brava: Maroon Music in Cuba

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pp. 11-46

Nowadays all musicians and close observers of Cuban culture acknowledge the boom of Cuban popular dance music that occurred at the opening of the 1990s and maintained itself until the closing of that decade. The sound that was born during that period—the musical practices...

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3. Afro Cuba

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pp. 47-79

This chapter considers the notion of “Afro Cuba” and the cultural processes that created and continue to shape it. By exploring various perspectives within the relevant literature, and through the personal experiences of Afro-Cuban people, I show how characteristics such as a...

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4. Doing Identity

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pp. 80-105

Recently in Cuba a social stereotype or character has surfaced; it is referred to as the especulador, a seeming reincarnation of los negros curros discussed by Fernando Ortiz, who were a unique, ›amboyant nineteenth- century type from among the free class of blacks in Havana...

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5. The Joy Train: Dance Spaces in Havana

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pp. 106-134

In this epigraph, published in 1951 during a moment of economic ascent for Cuba’s elite, technological advances, and the increased presence of U.S. tourism, Fernando Ortiz recalls a past that he perceives as healthier because the true Cuban values were still alive, not yet compromised...

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6. Around the Iroko Tree: Fieldwork in Cuba

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pp. 135-154

In the photograph that opens this chapter, I walk with several other people around an iroko—la ceiba or silk cotton tree—located near the main cathedral in one of the oldest parts of La Habana Vieja. The ritual happens every year on November 16 in honor of Agayú, who is...

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7. Conclusion: Keep Dancing

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pp. 155-158

Afro Cuba is the product of a history that is both ugly and beautiful. Since colonial times, the aim of Afro-Cubans has been to gain recognized positions within Cuban society and to act as full members of it. To survive along the way, they took refuge in cabildos, mutual aid...

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Epilogue: Remembering Manolín

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pp. 159-166

Since my last visit, the buildings had endured three more years of rain, wind, sun, and the strain of life, and the people were stretched thin. I realized the seriousness of the promise/prophecy of the Cuban Revolution and redemption. It was as if the place is being ground down almost to...

Appendix 1: Timba Timeline

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pp. 167-172

Appendix 2: Interviews

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pp. 173-174


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pp. 175-180


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pp. 181-184


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pp. 185-196


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pp. 197-203

E-ISBN-13: 9780472028696
E-ISBN-10: 0472028693
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472118489
Print-ISBN-10: 047211848X

Page Count: 208
Illustrations: 28 illustrations
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 818727296
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Rebel Dance, Renegade Stance

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Timba (Music) -- History and criticism.
  • Dance music -- Cuba -- History and criticism.
  • Dance -- Cuba.
  • Blacks -- Race identity -- Cuba.
  • Blacks -- Cuba -- Social life and customs.
  • Cuba -- Social life and customs.
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