Anarchist Cuba
239 pages

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239 pages

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This is the first critical, in-depth study of the anarchist movement in Cuba in the three decades after the republic’s independence from Spain in 1898. Kirwin Shaffer shows that anarchists played a significant—until now little-known—role among Cuban leftists in shaping issues of health, education, immigration, the environment, and working-class internationalism. They also criticized the state of racial politics, cultural practices, and the conditions of children and women on the island.

In the chaotic new country, members of the anarchist movement reinterpreted the War for Independence and the revolutionary ideas of patriot José Martí, embarking on a nationwide debate with the larger Cuban establishment about what it meant to be “Cuban.” To counter the dominant culture, the anarchists created their own initiatives—schools, health institutes, vegetarian restaurants, theater and fiction writing groups, and occasional calls for nudism—and as a result they challenged both the existing elite and the occupying U.S. military forces.

Shaffer also focuses on what anarchists did to prepare the masses for a social revolution. While many of the Cuban anarchists' ideals flowed from Europe, their programs, criticisms, and literature reflected the specifics of Cuban reality and appealed to Cuba’s popular classes. Using theories of working-class internationalism, countercultures, popular culture, and social movements, Shaffer analyzes archival records, pamphlets, newspapers, and novels, showing how the anarchist movement in republican Cuba helped shape the country’s early leftist revolutionary agenda.

Shaffer’s portrait of the conflict between anarchists and their enemies illuminates the multiple forces that pervaded life on the island in the twentieth century, until the rise of the Gerardo Machado dictatorship in the 1920s. This important book places anarchism in its rightful historical role as a vital current within Cuban radical political culture.



Publié par
Date de parution 01 mai 2019
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781629636603
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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Praise for Anarchist Cuba
A brilliantly written and carefully organized study of anarchism in Cuba during the first decades after the country s independence in 1902. Based on a wide range of documents from archives in Cuba and the United States, Shaffer provides a detailed analysis of political events and ideas of the nation in early twentieth-century Cuba.
- New West Indian Guide
Shaffer considers the different strands and at times internal conflicts that characterized anarchism in Cuba in the early decades of the twentieth century. He does a fine job of showing how Cuban anarchists operated in a larger cultural milieu that extended beyond the workplace and union hall, how they adapted the principal tenets of international anarchism to their own reality and put forth their own version of cubanidad, and, ultimately, how they played a vital yet often overlooked role in the development of the island s revolutionary tradition.
- The Americas: A Quarterly Review of Inter-American Cultural History
Drawing on a wide range of archival materials, Shaffer builds a detailed picture of the anarchist movement s contribution to a leftist revolutionary agenda in republican Cuba, and its part within the complex interaction of different political and social forces that was taking place there at the beginning of the last century.
- British Bulletin of Publications
These essays provide a vivid picture of the transnational nature of the anarcho-syndicalist/anarchist movement.
- Anarcho-Syndicalist Review
Anarchist Cuba is a comprehensive account of a group of people often overlooked in Cuban history, and Shaffer has provided the reader with a sense of what life was like for anarchists.
- Journal of Latin American Studies

Anarchist Cuba: Countercultural Politics in the Early Twentieth Century
This edition 2019 PM Press
All rights reserved
ISBN: 978-1-62963-637-5
Library of Congress Control Number: 2018949074
Cover by John Yates/
PM Press
PO Box 23912
Oakland, CA 94623
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Dedicated to Kilian, Zeno, Luc a, Harper and all future grandchildren
Preface to the PM Press Edition
1. Anarchism, Cuban a , Culture, and Power
2. Cuba for All: Anarchist Internationalism and the Politics of Cuban Independence
3. Symbolic Freedom: Anarchism and the Cultural Politics of Independence
4. The Cuban Melting Pot: Anarchism and Immigration
5. Anarchism in Black and White: Race and Afrocubanismo
6. Struggles for a Healthy Cuba: Anarchism, Health, and White Slavery
7. Curing Bourgeois Ills: Anarcho-Naturism vs. Cuba s Medical Establishment
8. Rejecting Civilization: Nature, Salvation, and the Rural Ideal in Anarcho-Naturism
9. Freedom Teaching: Anarchism and Education
10. Guiding the Masses: Anarchist Culture as Education
11. Imagining Women: Prostitutes, Bad Seeds, and Revolutionary Mothers
Conclusion and Epilogue
4.1. Immigration, 1912-1919
6.1. Ten Leading Causes of Deaths in Havana During 1901
6.2. Deaths by Age Group
8.1. Percent of Urban Inhabitants by Province, 1899-1907
9.1. Public Primary School Instruction in Cuba, 1901-1922
I am grateful for the help, support, and critical advice from many different individuals and institutions in three countries. In Cuba, the staffs at the Museo Municipal de Regla, the Biblioteca Nacional Jos Mart , the Instituto de Literatura y Ling stica, and the Instituto de Historia de Cuba in Havana were efficient in their professionalism and generous in their tea breaks. I continue to offer my deepest gratitude to Professor Alejandro Garc a lvarez, who, among other things, introduced me to the wonders of the Instituto de Literatura y Ling stica in Havana.
I owe a special debt to the staff at the International Institute for Social History in Amsterdam who over the years have brought me hundreds of sources. I especially continue to thank and hold dear the institute s former Information Officer Mieke IJzermans for her effortless generosity and friendship over these many years. She also brought material that she thought I would find interesting during the workday and offered numerous sumptuous meals many evenings. There s nobody like her, as anyone who knows her will attest.
In the United States, I am indebted to the staffs at the National Archives in College Park, M.D., as well as the interlibrary loan staffs at the University of Kansas, DeSales University (Pennsylvania), and Penn State University-Berks College. These institutions also provided financial assistance that complemented two Tinker Field Research Grants, a U.S. Department of Education Foreign language and Areas Studies Fellowship, and a James B. Pearson Fellowship for Graduate Study Abroad from the Kansas Board of Regents.
Over the decades, many people have helped me think through the issues emerging in this history. I wish to thank Tony Rosenthal, Betsy Kuznesof, Marc Becker, Frank Fern ndez, Robert Whitney, Jorge Chinea, K. Lynn Stoner, Luis Mart nez-Fern ndez, Kenyon Zimmer, David Struthers, Davide Turcato, Mark Leier, Geoffroy de Laforcade, Bert Altena, Constance Bantman, Lucien van der Walt, Steven Hirsch, Evan Daniel, and Barry Carr-along with multiple others big and small who have offered reviews and encouragement over the years. I am especially thankful for the support of my original University Press of Florida editor Amy Gorelick as well as Craig, Ramsey, and Jonathan at PM Press for their immediate interest and assistance in bringing out this paperback edition.
I remain most appreciative of my family and friends who have been with me over the years on a variety of journeys (physical and emotional), especially Ken and Betsy; Dorian and Sarah; Nathaniel, Hannah, Sarra, Imane and Malick; and especially my muse who also keeps me grounded, Zohra. Cheers!
Preface to the PM Press Edition
I began to work on this book over two decades ago. Its original publication in 2005 as Anarchism and Countercultural Politics in Early Twentieth-Century Cuba was part of an early wave of renewed interest in the history of global anarchism generally and an emerging interest in anarchist history beyond the traditional European focus specifically. The book also appeared at a time when people began to rediscover non-state socialist alternatives such as the Seattle WTO protests, growing interest in the Zapatistas in Mexico, the World Social Forum, and horizontalism in places like Argentina. These movements and events challenged and confronted a rampant global neoliberalism following the disappearance of the Soviet Bloc. This specific moment in history likewise witnessed a growth and consolidation of the American Empire as wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were four and two years old respectively when the book first appeared.
Since the book s first publication, interest in the history of anarchism in Cuba (and throughout the Caribbean) has grown and evolved. The Spain-based historian Amparo S nchez Cobos published Sembrando ideales , a splendid history that focuses on the important role of Spanish anarchists in shaping the anarchist movement in Cuba. Evan Daniel has written about the role of anarchism leading to the Cuban Independence War from 1895-1898, and-along with historians such as Chris Casta eda-illustrates the important role of Spanish-speaking anarchists in the United States during the 1880s and 1890s who launched early anarchist newspapers in Florida and New York. With these newspapers, they engaged in a global dialogue with anarchists in Spain and Cuba. When we couple this transnational press with the importance of anarchist migrants across the Atlantic and along the U.S. East Coast, we ve been able to paint a picture of early anarchist networks linking Spain, the U.S., and the Caribbean.
Havana was a hub of these overlapping networks. From the 1890s to the 1920s, Cuba was the home of the largest number of anarchist groups, the largest number of newspapers, the most activists, several anarchist-oriented alternative health projects, and a few vegetarian restaurants. The newspaper Tierra! was not only the most important and longest-running newspaper published in Cuba (late 1902 to early 1915) but also the most important newspaper for anarchists throughout the Caribbean Basin from Panama to the Yucat n to South Florida to Puerto Rico. In fact, though published in Havana, it was essentially a Caribbean anarchist newspaper. This newspaper and others, coupled with an array of anarchist poets, short story writers, and novelists, shaped anarchist culture in the region.
But it was in Cuba where this anarchist cultural politics was strongest. The paperback edition of this book, now available to a wider audience, will hopefully help a larger number of interested people, activists, and just generally good people to appreciate these radical men and women. These were activists who embedded their trust in each other and devoted the few resources they had to challenge an expanding agri-industrial capitalist system, an emerging Cuban government, and its U.S. neocolonial overlords on issues such as national identity, the meaning of history, immigration, race, gender, education, the environment, and health.
It is necessary to turn toward new directions, to purify the environment. In a phrase: it is necessary to constantly agitate among the workers, in every sense of the word if we do n

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