Antiracism in Cuba: The Unfinished Revolution

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2016-04-14 02:15Z by Steven

Antiracism in Cuba: The Unfinished Revolution

University of North Carolina Press
April 2016
332 pages
6.125 x 9.25
24 halftones, notes, bibl., index
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4696-2672-7

Devyn Spence Benson, Assistant Professor of History and African and African American Studies
Louisiana State University

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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Antiracism and the Cuban Revolution: An Interview with Devyn Spence Benson

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, United States on 2016-03-21 01:40Z by Steven

Antiracism and the Cuban Revolution: An Interview with Devyn Spence Benson

African American Intellectual History Society

Reena Goldthree, Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies
Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire

Devyn Spence Benson

This month, I interviewed historian Devyn Spence Benson about her forthcoming book, Antiracism in Cuba: The Unfinished Revolution (University of North Carolina Press, April 2016). Based on extensive archival research in Cuba and the United States as well as interviews with Afro-Cuban activists, Antiracism in Cuba explores public debates about race and racism in Cuba following the 1959 revolution. Benson reveals how the state’s ambitious campaign to eliminate racial discrimination was ultimately undermined by racist caricatures of Afro-Cubans in the media, the dismantling of independent black and mulato institutions, the underrepresentation of Afro-Cubans in highest ranks of the government, and the pervasive ideology of raceless nationalism.

Dr. Devyn Spence Benson is Assistant Professor of History and African and African American Studies at Louisiana State University (LSU). She received her Ph.D. in Latin American History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her work examines the history of Modern Latin America and the Caribbean with a particular focus on black activism in Cuba. She has received fellowships from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Oakley Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences at Williams College, and the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University. Benson’s recent publications have appeared in the Hispanic American Historical Review, the Journal of Transnational American Studies, and PALARA: Publication of the Afro-Latin/American Research Association. She currently serves as the faculty director for LSU’s Honors College study abroad program in Cuba…

Read the entire interview here.

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