Cuba in a Revolutionary World, 1940s–60s

AHA Session 61
Conference on Latin American History 13
Friday, January 5, 2018: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Delaware Suite B (Marriott Wardman Park, Lobby Level)
Rebecca Herman, University of California, Berkeley
Rebecca Herman, University of California, Berkeley

Session Abstract

The Cuban Revolution's status as one of the iconic social revolutions of the twentieth century has seldom been in doubt. This recognition is due in no small part to the Revolution's impact beyond Cuba's shores, particularly in Latin America and the rest of what was once called the Third World, and on the global Cold War. Only recently, however, have historians begun to develop a richer and more complex picture of the many ways in which Cubans engaged with the world beyond the island during the era of the Revolution. This panel seeks to contribute to this work, by combining analysis of state- and diplomatic-level encounters and processes with the activities of non-state and oppositional actors in transnational settings, and by tracing the evolution of Cuban internationalism across the pre- and post-1959 revolutionary divide.

Michelle Chase traces the history of Cuban women's left-feminist internationalist activism from the 1940s through the 1960s, showing how Cuban women on the Left helped to situate their own struggle and that of their country in the broader currents of feminist and leftist activism in the postwar era of the Cold War and decolonization. Aaron Coy Moulton traces the Cuban center-left's leading role in a transnational struggle against neighboring dictatorships in the Caribbean region in the 1940s, and then against their own dictatorship after 1952. Eric Gettig analyzes the new Revolutionary government's initial efforts to build diplomatic, economic, ideological, and institutional connections with the broader Third World in the 1960s.

How did the Cuban Revolution of 1959 emerge from a regional and global revolutionary crucible, as well as from conditions particular to the Cuban national context? How did the wider world influence Cuba's revolutionaries and the Cuban Revolution, and how did these, in turn, seek to shape and reshape the wider world? How can new sources from on and off the island, inside and outside official Cuban archives, help us to address these questions? In taking up these issues, the panel should be of interest to historians of Cuba, of Latin America, of the Americas in the world, of the twentieth-century Left, and of twentieth-century transnational and international history more broadly.

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