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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Preferred Name

Marie Eszenyi

Date of Award

Summer 2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

School of Communication Studies

Advisor(s)

Michael Davis

Alison Bodkin

Abstract

The high rate of female political participation in Cuba has led many journalists, political scientists, and activists to claim that the country is quite possibly the most feminist in Latin America (Torregrosa, 2012). As the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality (2012) indicates, Cuba ranks third in the world for female participation in legislative bodies. Indeed, Cuba has a long history of female political and revolutionary involvement that positions Cuban feminism both on the forefront and the margins of the economy, governmental institutions, culture, society, military systems, and the workplace during various historical points. Moreover, Cuba’s location just 90 miles from the United States as well as its lengthy history with colonialism, slavery, & African diaspora situate the island as a convergence of cultural melding, international influence, & Afrikaan tradition. Regardless of the truth value of the journalists’ claim that Cuba is the ‘most feminist’ country in the region, the apparent tension that exists between the increased political participation of women, the presence of women on both the forefront and margins of multiple facets of Cuban life, and the numerous international forces empowering and oppressing Cuban women all demonstrate the highly complex relationship between Cuban feminists and the socialist state and, therefore, highlight the vastly insightful potential of research on Cuban feminism. In this project, I employ Black feminist and Latin@ critical race theories to construct an oral history of contemporary Cuban feminism; more specifically, I synthesize historical materials from special collections on Cuban history, extant scholarship, and interviews from members of the state-based women’s federation to provide an account of contemporary Cuban feminism holistically, including the core viii tenets and key influences that permeate many individual forms of Cuban feminism. I also discuss the current status of transnational feminist collaboration between the United States and Cuba as well as the future of Cuban feminism with respect to this collaboration. The goal of this work is not only to facilitate a better understanding of the ways in which contemporary Cuban feminisms align with and diverge from previous incarnations of Cuban feminism, but also to support Cuban feminist voices within American academic discourse so that the burgeoning field of Cuban feminism can be recognized and appreciated.

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