The University of North Carolina Press

Envisioning Cuba

Edited by Louis A. Pérez Jr., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

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Envisioning Cuba

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The 1812 Aponte Rebellion in Cuba and the Struggle against Atlantic Slavery

Matt D. Childs

In 1812 a series of revolts known collectively as the Aponte Rebellion erupted across the island of Cuba, comprising one of the largest and most important slave insurrections in Caribbean history. Matt Childs provides the first in-depth analysis of the rebellion, situating it in local, colonial, imperial, and Atlantic World contexts.

Childs explains how slaves and free people of color responded to the nineteenth-century "sugar boom" in the Spanish colony by planning a rebellion against racial slavery and plantation agriculture. Striking alliances among free people of color and slaves, blacks and mulattoes, Africans and Creoles, and rural and urban populations, rebels were prompted to act by a widespread belief in rumors promising that emancipation was near. Taking further inspiration from the 1791 Haitian Revolution, rebels sought to destroy slavery in Cuba and perhaps even end Spanish rule. By comparing his findings to studies of slave insurrections in Brazil, Haiti, the British Caribbean, and the United States, Childs places the rebellion within the wider story of Atlantic World revolution and political change. The book also features a biographical table, constructed by Childs, of the more than 350 people investigated for their involvement in the rebellion, 34 of whom were executed.

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Antiracism in Cuba

The Unfinished Revolution

Devyn Spence Benson

Analyzing the ideology and rhetoric around race in Cuba and south Florida during the early years of the Cuban revolution, Devyn Spence Benson argues that ideas, stereotypes, and discriminatory practices relating to racial difference persisted despite major efforts by the Cuban state to generate social equality. Drawing on Cuban and U.S. archival materials and face-to-face interviews, Benson examines 1960s government programs and campaigns against discrimination, showing how such programs frequently negated their efforts by reproducing racist images and idioms in revolutionary propaganda, cartoons, and school materials.

Building on nineteenth-century discourses that imagined Cuba as a raceless space, revolutionary leaders embraced a narrow definition of blackness, often seeming to suggest that Afro-Cubans had to discard their blackness to join the revolution. This was and remains a false dichotomy for many Cubans of color, Benson demonstrates. While some Afro-Cubans agreed with the revolution's sentiments about racial transcendence--"not blacks, not whites, only Cubans--others found ways to use state rhetoric to demand additional reforms. Still others, finding a revolution that disavowed blackness unsettling and paternalistic, fought to insert black history and African culture into revolutionary nationalisms. Despite such efforts by Afro-Cubans and radical government-sponsored integration programs, racism has persisted throughout the revolution in subtle but lasting ways.

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Black Political Activism and the Cuban Republic

Melina Pappademos

While it was not until 1871 that slavery in Cuba was finally abolished, African-descended people had high hopes for legal, social, and economic advancement as the republican period started. Pappademos analyzes the racial politics and culture of black civic and political activists during an era fraught with successive political and economic crises.

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C. Wright Mills and the Cuban Revolution

An Exercise in the Art of Sociological Imagination

A. Javier Treviño

In C. Wright Mills and the Cuban Revolution, A. Javier Trevino reconsiders the opinions, perspectives, and insights of the Cubans that Mills interviewed during his visit to the island in 1960. On returning to the United States, the esteemed and controversial sociologist wrote a small paperback on much of what he had heard and seen, which he published as Listen, Yankee: The Revolution in Cuba. Those interviews--now transcribed and translated--are interwoven here with extensive annotations to explain and contextualize their content. Readers will be able to "hear" Mills as an expert interviewer and ascertain how he used what he learned from his informants. Trevino also recounts the experiences of four central figures whose lives became inextricably intertwined during that fateful summer of 1960: C. Wright Mills, Fidel Castro, Juan Arcocha, and Jean-Paul Sartre. The singular event that compelled their biographies to intersect at a decisive moment in the history of Cold War geopolitics--with its attendant animosities and intrigues--was the Cuban Revolution.

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Chinese Cubans

A Transnational History

Kathleen M. López

Kathleen López is an assistant professor of history and Latino and Hispanic Caribbean studies at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. From “coolies” to citizens In the mid-nineteenth century, Cuba's infamous "coolie" trade brought well over 100,000 Chinese indentured laborers to its shores. Though subjected to abominable conditions, they were followed during subsequent decades by smaller numbers of merchants, craftsmen, and free migrants searching for better lives far from home. In a comprehensive, vibrant history that draws deeply on Chinese- and Spanish-language sources in both China and Cuba, Kathleen López explores the transition of the Chinese from indentured to free migrants, the formation of transnational communities, and the eventual incorporation of the Chinese into the Cuban citizenry during the first half of the twentieth century. ###Chinese Cubans# shows how Chinese migration, intermarriage, and assimilation is central to Cuban history and national identity during a key period of transition from slave to wage labor and from colony to nation. On a broader level, López draws out implications for issues of race, national identity, and transnational migration, especially along the Pacific rim.

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Climate and Catastrophe in Cuba and the Atlantic World in the Age of Revolution

Sherry Johnson

Drawing historical climatology, environmental history, and Cuban and American colonial history, Sherry Johnson innovatively integrates the history of the Spanish Caribbean and the Atlantic world during the Age of Revolution (1750-1800) with the period's extreme weather patterns and finds that weather-induced environmental crises played an inextricable and largely unacknowledged role in charting the course of this period as a critical juncture in Atlantic world history. Johnson reviews recent scientific discoveries in paleoclimatology and, combining them with archival materials, identifies an historic weather pattern--in particular, a fifty-year warming trend--that lead to a cycle of severe drought alternating with an increased number of hurricanes, what we know now as the El Nino/La Nina weather cycle. By superimposing this history of natural disasters over the conventional timeline of socio-political and economic events in Caribbean colonial history--involving such major themes as mercantalism, imperial business, rebellion, and repression--Johnson argues for an alternate chronology based on environmental and weather events in which the signal events of the Age of Revolution are seen as consequences of ecological crisis. In particular, Johnson finds that the the general adoption of free trade by the European powers in the Americas, esp. in the key imperial outposts in the Caribbean and the North Atlantic basin, was catalyzed by a recognition of the harsh realities of food scarcity and the complementary needs of local colonists reeling from a series of unrelenting natural disasters. The environmental crisis, and Spain's slow response in assisting its colonists, also raised levels of resentment on the island against the motherland, adding to slowly building revolutionary sentiments.

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Conflicting Missions

Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976

Piero Gleijeses

This is a compelling and dramatic account of Cuban policy in Africa from 1959 to 1976 and of its escalating clash with U.S. policy toward the continent. Piero Gleijeses's fast-paced narrative takes the reader from Cuba's first steps to assist Algerian rebels fighting France in 1961, to the secret war between Havana and Washington in Zaire in 1964-65--where 100 Cubans led by Che Guevara clashed with 1,000 mercenaries controlled by the CIA--and, finally, to the dramatic dispatch of 30,000 Cubans to Angola in 1975-76, which stopped the South African advance on Luanda and doomed Henry Kissinger's major covert operation there.

Based on unprecedented archival research and firsthand interviews in virtually all of the countries involved--Gleijeses was even able to gain extensive access to closed Cuban archives--this comprehensive and balanced work sheds new light on U.S. foreign policy and CIA covert operations. It revolutionizes our view of Cuba's international role, challenges conventional U.S. beliefs about the influence of the Soviet Union in directing Cuba's actions in Africa, and provides, for the first time ever, a look from the inside at Cuba's foreign policy during the Cold War.

"Fascinating . . . and often downright entertaining. . . . Gleijeses recounts the Cuban story with considerable flair, taking good advantage of rich material.--Washington Post Book World

"Gleijeses's research . . . bluntly contradicts the Congressional testimony of the era and the memoirs of Henry A. Kissinger. . . . After reviewing Dr. Gleijeses's work, several former senior United States diplomats who were involved in making policy toward Angola broadly endorsed its conclusions.--New York Times

"With the publication of Conflicting Missions, Piero Gleijeses establishes his reputation as the most impressive historian of the Cold War in the Third World. Drawing on previously unavailable Cuban and African as well as American sources, he tells a story that's full of fresh and surprising information. And best of all, he does this with a remarkable sensitivity to the perspectives of the protagonists. This book will become an instant classic.--John Lewis Gaddis, author of We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History

Based on unprecedented research in Cuban, American, and European archives, this is the compelling story of Cuban policy in Africa from 1959 to 1976 and of its escalating clash with U.S. policy toward the continent. Piero Gleijeses sheds new light on U.S. foreign policy and CIA covert operations, revolutionizes our view of Cuba's international role, and provides the first look from the inside at Cuba's foreign policy during the Cold War.
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Cuban Émigrés and Independence in the Nineteenth-Century Gulf World

Dalia Antonia Muller

During the violent years of war marking Cuba's final push for independence from Spain, over 3,000 Cuban emigres, men and women, rich and poor, fled to Mexico. But more than a safe haven, Mexico was a key site, Dalia Antonia Muller argues, from which the expatriates helped launch a mobile and politically active Cuban diaspora around the Gulf of Mexico. Offering a new transnational vantage on Cuba's struggle for nationhood, Muller traces the stories of three hundred of these Cuban emigres and explores the impact of their lives of exile, service to the revolution and independence, and circum-Caribbean solidarities.

While not large in number, the emigres excelled at community building, and their effectiveness in disseminating their political views across borders intensified their influence and inspired strong nationalistic sentiments across Latin America. Revealing that emigres' efforts were key to a Cuban Revolutionary Party program for courting Mexican popular and diplomatic support, Muller shows how the relationship also benefited Mexican causes. Cuban revolutionary aspirations resonated with Mexican students, journalists, and others alarmed by the violation of constitutional rights and the increasing conservatism of the Porfirio Diaz regime. Finally, Muller follows emigres' return to Cuba after the Spanish-American War, their lives in the new republic ineluctably shaped by their sojourn in Mexico.

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Forging Diaspora

Afro-Cubans and African Americans in a World of Empire and Jim Crow

Frank Andre Guridy

Drawing on archival sources in both countries, Guridy traces four encounters between Afro-Cubans and African Americans. These hidden histories of cultural interaction--of Cuban students attending Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee Institute, the rise of Garveyism, the Havana-Harlem cultural connection during the Harlem Renaissance and Afro-Cubanism movement, and the creation of black travel networks during the Good Neighbor and early Cold War eras--illustrate the significance of cross-national linkages to the ways both Afro-descended populations negotiated the entangled processes of U.S. imperialism and racial discrimination. As a result of these relationships, argues Guridy, Afro-descended peoples in Cuba and the United States came to identify themselves as part of a transcultural African diaspora. Guridy explores the unique relationship between Afro-descended populations in Cuba and the United States, demonstrating that the cross-national relationships nurtured by Afro-Cubans and black Americans helped to shape the political strategies of both groups as they attempted to overcome a shared history of oppression and enslavement. As a result of these relationships, argues Guridy, Afro-descended peoples in Cuba and the United States came to identify themselves as part of a transcultural African diaspora.

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From Rainforest to Cane Field in Cuba

An Environmental History since 1492

Reinaldo Funes Monzote and Alex Martin

In this award-winning environmental history of Cuba since the age of Columbus, Reinaldo Funes Monzote emphasizes the two processes that have had the most dramatic impact on the island's landscape: deforestation and sugar cultivation. During the first 300 years of Spanish settlement, sugar plantations arose primarily in areas where forests had been cleared by the royal navy, which maintained an interest in management and conservation for the shipbuilding industry. The sugar planters won a decisive victory in 1815, however, when they were allowed to clear extensive forests, without restriction, for cane fields and sugar production. This book is the first to consider Cuba's vital sugar industry through the lens of environmental history. Funes Monzote demonstrates how the industry that came to define Cuba--and upon which Cuba urgently depended--also devastated the ecology of the island. The original Spanish-language edition of the book, published in Mexico in 2004, was awarded the UNESCO Book Prize for Caribbean Thought, Environmental Category. For this first English edition, the author has revised the text throughout and provided new material, including a glossary and a conclusion that summarizes important developments up to the present. This book is the English translation of De bosque a sabana: Azúcar, desforestación y medio ambiente en Cuba, 1492-1926, published in 2004 by Mexican publisher Siglo Veintiuno Editores. In this environmental history of Cuba beginning when Columbus first arrived in 1492, Funes emphasizes the two processes that have had the most dramatic impact on the island's landscape: deforestation and sugar cultivation. Spanish colonists quickly began to use the island's lush forests for naval construction and lumber exports, and the cleared land became plantations for sugar production. This book is the first to consider Cuba's vital sugar industry through the lens of environmental history, also combining the history of science, agrarian history, and social, economic, and legal history. The industry that came to define Cuba, and on which Cuba urgently depended, also devastated the ecology of a large, heavily wooded tropical island. For this English translation the author worked with the translator to revise the text throughout and he has added a glossary and a conclusion summarizing important developments to the present day. In this environmental history of Cuba since the age of Columbus, Reinaldo Funes Monzote emphasizes the two processes that have had the most dramatic impact on the island's landscape: deforestation and sugar cultivation. Funes Monzote demonstrates how the industry that came to define Cuba--and upon which Cuba urgently depended--also devastated the ecology of the island. The original Spanish-language edition of the book, published in Mexico in 2004, was awarded the UNESCO Book Prize for Caribbean Thought, Environmental Category. For this first English edition, the author has revised the text throughout and provided new material, including a glossary and a conclusion that summarizes important developments up to the present. In this award-winning environmental history of Cuba since the age of Columbus, Reinaldo Funes Monzote emphasizes the two processes that have had the most dramatic impact on the island's landscape: deforestation and sugar cultivation. During the first 300 years of Spanish settlement, sugar plantations arose primarily in areas where forests had been cleared by the royal navy, which maintained an interest in management and conservation for the shipbuilding industry. The sugar planters won a decisive victory in 1815, however, when they were allowed to clear extensive forests, without restriction, for cane fields and sugar production. This book is the first to consider Cuba's vital sugar industry through the lens of environmental history. Funes Monzote demonstrates how the industry that came to define Cuba--and upon which Cuba urgently depended--also devastated the ecology of the island. The original Spanish-language edition of the book, published in Mexico in 2004, was awarded the UNESCO Book Prize for Caribbean Thought, Environmental Category. For this first English edition, the author has revised the text throughout and provided new material, including a glossary and a conclusion that summarizes important developments up to the present.

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