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Black Histories in Cuba and Its Diaspora (December 2016): Postemancipation, Independence, and the Early Republic

by Bonnie A. Lucero

Postemancipation, Independence, and the Early Republic

One of the most fascinating aspects of Cuban history at the turn of the twentieth century is the intimate connection between the transition from slavery to free labor and the path from colony to independent republic. Aline Helg’s 1995 monograph, Our Rightful Share: The Afro-Cuban Struggle for Equality, 1886-1912 paved the way for these two trajectories in the English-speaking academy. She challenged earlier visions of race in Cuba by explicitly documenting profound racial inequality and violence on the island, and charting the ways black Cubans contested the exclusionary practices of their nation between the abolition of slavery in 1886 and the infamous massacre of black activists associated with the Independent Party of Color in 1912. It is precisely these faltering promises of emancipation and independence that have defined historical studies of Cuba at the turn of the twentieth century; some scholars examine them from a postemancipation perspective, while others emphasize the transition toward independence.

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