The Sacrifices of Nation-State Building

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Abstract Summary

This study seeks to explore the politics of Afro-Cuban identity after the triumph of the 1959 Cuban revolution. I answer three main questions: What role, if any, have the tools of nation-state building played on how Cubans identify themselves? Does a distinction between racial identity and national identity exist amongst Cubans of African descent? How do the majority of afro-descended Cubans identify themselves, and in what ways do they express this self-identification? While in Havana, Cuba, I began researching socio-political factors, such as the Cuban revolution and the ways in which the revolutionary national discourse engages with race and identity. During my time, I found that – when asked directly – a majority of Afro-descended Cubans choose to identify themselves with their national identity, Cuban, as opposed to their racial identity, Afro-Cuban. However, from exploring this issue further – as it is represented in the work of Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén (1902-1989), Cuban filmmaker Nicolás Guillén Landrián (1938-2003), and Cuban activist Roberto Zurbano Torres (1965-Present) – I found that since the 19th century a growing number of Cubans assert their racial identity over their national identity.

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