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Afro-Cuban Voices: On Race and Identity in Contemporary Cuba Hardcover – May 4, 2000

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

From the forewords:

"At a time when Cuba is undergoing immense economic and social changes, race becomes a kind of cultural litmus test for the national identity. . . . This anthology illustrates fully that it is possible to be both revolutionary and black in Cuba."--Manning Marable, Columbia University

"The authors of Afro-Cuban Voices, also key actors in the new, unfolding dialogue about race in Cuba, make a seminal contribution through a forthright critique of ‘racial blind spots’ in official history and present-day racial discrimination."--James Early, director of cultural studies and communication, Smithsonian Institution

From the series editor:
"A courageous attempt to deal head-on with the issue of race in Cuba today. . . . Pérez Sarduy and Stubbs [seek to] put a human face on this debate, and do so well. The book will be received with relief by some and with frustration by others. Controversial it will undoubtedly be, since--as with most things Cuban--strong emotions are a given assumption. It will be an admirable beginning for the series and, it is hoped, will spark a much-needed debate in the United States on many aspects of the ‘Cuban question.’ It is about time."--John M. Kirk

Based on the vivid firsthand testimony of prominent Afro-Cubans who live in Cuba, this book of interviews looks at ways that race affects daily life on the island.

 While celebrating their racial and national identity, the collected voices express an urgent need to end the silences and distortions of history in both pre- and postrevolutionary Cuba. The 14 people interviewed--of different generations and from different geographic areas of Cuba--come from the arts, the media, industry, academia, and medicine. They include a doctor who calls for joint U.S.-Cuban studies on high blood pressure and a craftsman who makes the batá drums used in Yoruba worship ceremonies.

 All responded to four controversial questions: What is it like to be black in Cuba? How has the revolution made a difference? To what extent is that difference true today? What can be done? Exposing the contradictions of both racial stereotyping and cultural assimilation, their eloquent answers make the case that the issue of race in Cuba, no matter how hard to define, will not be ignored.
 
Pedro Pérez Sarduy is a Cuban poet, writer, and journalist who has worked for Cuban and British media. Jean Stubbs is a British historian and professor of Caribbean studies at the University of North London in England. Both have published on topics related to Cuba and the Caribbean. They are coeditors of AFROCUBA: An Anthology of Cuban Writing on Race, Politics and Culture.

About the Author

Pedro Perez Sarduy

Stubbs lived in Cuba for 19 years. She is currently lecturer in Caribbean and Latin American history at the University of North London.

Manning Marable is Professor of Public Affairs, History and African-American Studies, and Director for the Center for Contemporary Black History at Columbia University.
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Product Details

  • Series: Contemporary Cuba
  • Hardcover: 212 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida; 1st edition (May 4, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813017351
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813017358
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #703,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on October 18, 2000
This is an important book, not only for its content, but also for the fact that it exists in a political climate of ongoing hostility toward Cuba from the US. For many years, liberal scholars have idealized the socialist regime. Conservatives and expatriates, on the other side, have proclaimed their disdain and rage toward the policies of Castro's "worker's paradise." As someone who has been there three times in the past two years, Cuba is neither the heaven nor the hell illustrated by these extremes. This book sheds some realistic light on why Afro-Cubans have been thankful for real improvements in their daily lives made since the revolution, and yet still resent the pervasive racism and poverty that exists behind the veneer of socialist equality. There are some inaccuracies (I think due to translation errors) about the religion of Santeria. In any book about Afro-Cuban life, more needs to be said about the role of religion (Santeria, Abakua, and Palo) and it needs to be consistently correct, so from this perspective, the authors did not do their research. However, this book is very important for opening a dialogue about race in Cuba. I hope this dialogue will continue and break through some barriers.
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By A Customer on July 31, 2000
In this slim volume, editors Pérez Sarduy and Stubbs shine light on the complex question of Afro-Cuban identity. The editors present numerous short vignettes where the reader hears, in first person, a variety of Cubans describe their lives. As with all matters Cuban, things are seldom as simple as pro- and anti- opponents claim. The conceptual tension between the gains people of color made as a result during the revolution, the silence the revolution imposed on race matters, and the looming threat of a "racial rollback" with the dolarization of the Cuban ecomony are all here, spoken from the perspective of Cubans caught in the complex social millieu that is contemporary Cuba. After an excellent review of the literature as introduction, it's all Afro-Cuban voices, a badly needed English language work that is mandatory reading for anyone interested in Cuba or in the struggle for social equality.
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A little known topic brought to light in an excellent manner
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