Afro-Cuban movement(s) : performing autonomy in "updating" Havana
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation is an ethnography of how Afro-Cubans are enacting coordinated movement toward more desirable futures as they face increased marginalization due to Cuba’s current political economic reforms. Yoruba Andabo —a group of dancers, percussionists, and singers— take center stage in this project, as a case study to examine the unexpected ways that Afro-Cubans are practicing collective agency, going against the logics of more conventional registers of black identity politics. I use La Articulación Regional Afrodescendiente de América Latína y el Caribe- Capítulo Cuba (ARAC), as an analytical counterpoint to represent a more conventional pursuit of sociopolitical gains by black identity politics in Cuba today. Of central interest is how the sacred figures within cultural politics, to gain greater sociopolitical and economic autonomy, and how gender operates within their political imaginaries, using a critical race, feminist and performance-oriented lens. The ethnography makes the case for different ways of performing black autonomy in Cuba correlating to particular metrics of politics drawn from collective memories of group struggle. These different forms of self-organization correspond to distinct spheres of influence and distinct limits on their collective reach and agency. Furthermore, the research demonstrates the utility of performance studies for furthering the understanding of social processes by making visible the political horizon of black identity politics in embodied motion. This analysis of black collective agency in the face of political economic marginalization speaks directly to the importance of local practices of self-determination as sources of knowledge production about the limits of cultural politics endorsed by the state, the sacred and gendered valences of black identity politics, and the impact of national development on black lives.