Racial Experiments in Cuban Literature and Ethnography

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In the wake of independence from Spain in 1898, Cuba's intellectual avant-garde struggled to cast their country as a modern nation. They grappled with the challenges presented by the postcolonial situation in general and with the location of blackness within a narrative of Cuban-ness in particular. In this breakthrough study, Emily Maguire examines how a cadre of writers re-imagined the nation and re-valorized Afro-Cuban culture through a textual production that incorporated elements of the ethnographic with the literary. Singling out the work of Lydia Cabrera as emblematic of the experimentation with genre that characterized the age, Maguire constructs a series of counterpoints that place Cabrera's work in dialogue with that of her Cuban contemporaries-including Fernando Ortiz, Nicolas Guillen, and Alejo Carpentier. An illuminating final chapter on Cabrera and Zora Neale Hurston widens the scope to contextualize Cuban texts within a hemispheric movement to represent black culture.