Law, science, and the social sciences--which, during this era, enjoyed growing status in Cuba as well as in many other countries--played central roles in producing knowledge and shaping social categories in postindependence Cuba. Anthropologists, criminologists, and eugenicists embarked on projects intended to employ the tools of science to rid Cuba of the last vestiges of a colonial past. Meanwhile, the legal arena created both new freedoms and new modes of repression. Black and mulatto intellectuals and activists, working to ensure that citizenship offered concrete advantages rather than empty promises, appropriated changing social scientific and legal categories and turned them to their own uses. In the midst of several decades of intermittent racial violence and expanding social and political mobilization by Cubans of African descent, debates among intellectuals and activists, state officials, and legislators transformed not only understandings of race, but also the terms of citizenship for all Cubans.
As radio became an established medium worldwide, it burgeoned in the Caribbean because the region was a hub for intense foreign and domestic commercial and military activities. Attending to everyday life, infrastructure, and sounded histories during the waxing of an American empire and the waning of British influence in the Caribbean, Bronfman does not allow the notion of empire to stand solely for domination. By the time of the Cold War, broadcasting had become a ubiquitous phenomenon that rendered sound and voice central to political mobilization in the Caribbean nations throwing off what remained of their imperial tethers.
Sonic media, and radio in particular, have become primary tools for contesting political issues. In that vein, the contributors view the control of radio transmission and those who manipulate its content for political gain. Conversely, they show how, in neoliberal climates, radio programs have exposed corruption and provided a voice for activism.
The chapters address sonic production in a variety of media: radio, Internet, digital recordings, phonographs, speeches, carnival performances, fireworks festivals, and the reinterpretation of sound in literature. They examine the embodied experience of listening and its importance to memory coding and identity formation.
This collection looks to sonic media as an essential vehicle for transmitting ideologies, imagined communities, and culture. As the contributors discern, sound is ubiquitous, and its study is therefore crucial to understanding the flow of information and influence in Latin America and globally.
Contributors. Imilcy Balboa Navarro, Alejandra Bronfman, Maikel Fariñas Borrego, Reinaldo Funes Monzote, Marial Iglesias Utset, Steven Palmer, José Antonio Piqueras Arenas, Ricardo Quiza Moreno, Amparo Sánchez Cobos, Rebecca J. Scott, Robert Whitney
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.
Essays feature research on prototourist American soldiers of the mid-nineteenth century, archaeologists who excavated Teotihuacán, business owners who marketed Carnival in Veracruz during the 1920s, American tourists in Mexico City who promoted goodwill during the Second World War, American retirees who settled San Miguel de Allende, restaurateurs who created an “authentic” cuisine of Central Mexico, indigenous market vendors of Oaxaca who shaped the local tourist identity, Mayan service workers who migrated to work in Cancun hotels, and local officials who vied to develop the next “it” spot in Tijuana and Cabo San Lucas. Including insightful studies on food, labor, art, diplomacy, business, and politics, this collection illuminates the many processes and individuals that constitute the tourism industry. Holiday in Mexico shows tourism to be a complicated set of interactions and outcomes that reveal much about the nature of economic, social, cultural, and environmental change in Greater Mexico over the past two centuries.
Contributors. Dina Berger, Andrea Boardman, Christina Bueno, M. Bianet Castellanos, Mary K. Coffey, Lisa Pinley Covert, Barbara Kastelein, Jeffrey Pilcher, Andrew Sackett, Alex Saragoza, Eric M. Schantz, Andrew Grant Wood
Drawing on archival and published sources, Iglesias illustrates the process by which Cubans maintained and created their own culturally relevant national symbols in the face of the U.S. occupation. Tracing Cuba's efforts to modernize in conjunction with plans by U.S. officials to shape the process, Iglesias analyzes, among other things, the influence of the English language on Spanish usage; the imposition of North American holidays, such as Thanksgiving, in place of traditional Cuban celebrations; the transformation of Havana into a new metropolis; and the development of patriotic symbols, including the Cuban flag, songs, monuments, and ceremonies. Iglesias argues that the Cuban response to U.S. imperialism, though largely critical, indeed involved elements of reliance, accommodation, and welcome. Above all, Iglesias argues, Cubans engaged the Americans on multiple levels, and her work demonstrates how their ambiguous responses to the U.S. occupation shaped the cultural transformation that gave rise to a new Cuban nationalism.
The path to equality, Pappademos reveals, was often stymied by successive political and economic crises, patronage politics, and profound racial tensions. In the face of these issues, black political leaders and members of black social clubs developed strategies for expanding their political authority and for winning respectability and socioeconomic resources. Rather than appeal to a monolithic black Cuban identity based on the assumption of shared experience, these black activists, politicians, and public intellectuals consistently recognized the class, cultural, and ideological differences that existed within the black community, thus challenging conventional wisdom about black community formation and anachronistic ideas of racial solidarity. Pappademos illuminates the central, yet often silenced, intellectual and cultural role of black Cubans in the formation of the nation's political structures; in doing so, she shows that black activism was only partially motivated by race.
Spiritism, Santeria, and other African-derived traditions were typically characterized in sensational fashion by the popular press as "a plague of superstition." Examining seven episodes between 1898 and the Cuban Revolution when the public demanded official actions against "misbelief," Roman finds that when outbreaks of superstition were debated, matters of citizenship were usually at stake. He links the circulation of spectacular charges of witchcraft and miracle-making to anxieties surrounding newly expanded citizenries that included people of color. Governing Spirits also contributes to the understanding of vernacular religions by moving beyond questions of national or traditional origins to illuminate how boundaries among hybrid practices evolved in a process of historical contingencies.