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The University of North Carolina Press
Measures of Equality: Social Science, Citizenship, and Race in Cuba, 1902-1940

Measures of Equality: Social Science, Citizenship, and Race in Cuba, 1902-1940

by Alejandra Bronfman
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In the years following Cuba's independence, nationalists aimed to transcend racial categories in order to create a unified polity, yet racial and cultural heterogeneity posed continual challenges to these liberal notions of citizenship. Alejandra Bronfman traces the formation of Cuba's multiracial legal and political order in the early Republic by exploring the responses of social scientists, such as Fernando Ortiz and Israel Castellanos, and black and mulatto activists, including Gustavo Urrutia and Nicolas Guillen, to the paradoxes of modern nationhood.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807828984
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 11/01/2004
Series: Envisioning Cuba
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Alejandra Bronfman is associate professor of history at SUNY Albany.

Table of Contents

1Unsettled and Nomadic: Law, Anthropology, and Race17
2Social Science and the Negro Brujo37
3Barbarism and Its Discontents67
4Contested Histories: Public Memory and Collective Identities87
5Social Science, State-Making, and the Politics of Time107
6The Politics of Blackness on the Eve of Revolution135
7From Comparsas to Constitutions159

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From the Publisher

Bronfman posits the relatively inclusive rather than exclusive nature of the early Cuban Republic, legitimizing hereditary views about the inferiority of those of African descent and also animating the critique of those views, especially by Cubans of color. She has marshaled her case with excellent, new, and at times chilling detail, contributing to the growing body of work that is countering the silences of much mainstream study of Cuban history. Her approach is sound and much needed.--Jean Stubbs, University of North London

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