ALTERNATIVE VISIONS OF CUBANIDAD: DIASPORA, FOLKLORIZATION AND THE PERFORMANCE OF HAITIAN IDENTITIES IN EASTERN CUBA Restricted; Files Only

Hume, Yanique Melanie (2008)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/xd07gs91b?locale=en
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Abstract

This dissertation is an ethnographic investigation of the Haitian presence in Cuba. It examines the myriad ways members of Haitian diasporic enclaves have historically negotiated their space in eastern Cuba and how they presently manage their lives, when multiple global processes, but especially tourism, provide new opportunities and a restructured environment for them to assert their identities and historical experiences. By paying attention to the ongoing contentious processes of incorporation, the dissertation traces the enduring struggles over the multiple meanings of cubanidad (Cubanness).

The contemporary post-revolutionary moment provides considerable opportunities for Haitians and their descendants to utilize the expressive cultural space of festivals to performatively fashion their hyphenated identities. The emergent presence of Haitian-Cuban cultural performances thus provides a critical site for examining the interplay of identity, performance, and national belonging in contemporary Cuba. In the aftermath of the economic and ideological crisis of the 1990s following the demise of the Soviet bloc, there has been a public opening for alternative articulations of cubanidad other than those prescribed by the revolutionary State. As Cuba re-asserts itself into the global economy, Cuban culture is undergoing significant change, especially in regards to the sense of who is Cuban and what it means to be Cuban. While there has been an increased reflection on new expressions of Afro-Cuban culture, very little has been written on the cultural performances of those of Haitian descent.

This dissertation examines not only the shifting positioning of Haitian culture in the Cuban imaginary, but also the significance of state-sanctioned public performance in the construction of diasporic subjectivity among Haitians and their descendants. It questions the consequences for these people, who have been historically marginalized and rendered invisible, of becoming part of folkloric Cuba. While tourism threatens to folklorize and commodify cultural forms, it also facilitates articulations of difference. The study posits that it is in and through public events like national festivals that other Haitian-Cubans have a platform to represent, assert and negotiate their identities and in the process legitimize their claim to the nation's patrimony and articulate alternative visions of national belonging.

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION:

Alternative Visions of Cubanidad ...............................................1

CHAPTER ONE:
Imagining Cuba: Cubanidad and the Shifting Discourse
of National Cultural Identity ....................................................25

CHAPTER TWO:
"Haytien Nou Ye": Haiti in the Cuban Context .............................88

CHAPTER THREE:
On the Margins: The Making of a Diasporic Enclave in
Eastern Cuba .......................................................................138

CHAPTER FOUR:
Casa del Caribe and the Popularization of

Haitian-Cuban Culture ............................................................172

CHAPTER FIVE:
Beyond the Tourist Gaze: Memory, History & Identity in
the Feeding of Haitian Spirits at Home and on Stage ....................207

CHAPTER SIX:

From Bush to Street: The Shifting Performance
Geography of Rara/Gagá .........................................................249

CONCLUSON:

Re-Imagining Cuba: The New Face of Cultural
Identities and Performance in Santiago de Cuba ..........................297

WORKS CITED:
....................................................................305

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