"Counterpoints: Black Masculinities, Sexuality, and Self -Making in Contemporary Cuba"

Jafari Sinclaire Allen

Deposited 2003

This dissertation—researched in Cuba over a period of three-years—is a critical ethnography which traces the connections between and among sexuality, gender and racial formations. It examines ways in which Cubans are re-making their lives in the current moment focusing especially on black men.

Each act of self-making is, per force, political in the sense that it challenges the allocation of social and material capital and looks towards improving the individual's felt/lived experience. The goal of the project is to theorize everyday practices, toward uncovering spaces in which these practices—transcendent erotics and politics—move individuals and groups of individuals toward liberation from some of the constraints on the full expression of their humanity. At the center of this project is the question: how can we contribute to progressive strategies for material and psychic liberation of marginal communities and marginal subjects?

The 1990's Special Period in Times of Peace—brought on not only by the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but larger processes now known as globalization, threatened to destroy the socialist republic Cuba had begun to build some forty years earlier. Currently, as Cuba recovers from the Special Period in Times of Peace, it is attempting to re-enter global currency on its own terms as mixed Cuban socialism. However, its re-entry seems contingent upon taking up a very different position from that which the Revolutionary government had constructed for itself. Likewise, increasingly influenced by the exigencies of the global market, new ways of self-making are emerging among Cubans who already have access to a wide repertoire of images, styles and cultural idioms of identity, including blackness. That is, the array of roles, representations, ideologies and practices with one can identify have exploded recently—some of these are at odds with Revolutionary mores.

This dissertation grapples with and innovatively re-situates scholarly and popular discourses on sexuality, masculinity, globalization, and racial formation in the Latin Caribbean, through the lenses of men who are on the margins of the margins.