Liberty and Equality in Caribbean Colombia, 1770-1835, published 2004
Our Rightful Share: reviewed
Table of Contents
Cuba: Our Rightful Share out in Spanish with the Casa de Altos Estudios Ortiz in Havana: Lo que nos corresponde: la lucha de los negros y mulatos por la igualdad en Cuba 1886-1912, published in 2002
LA MASACRE RACISTA DE 1912, 2/02 Extract from Cuban edition.
Aline Helg is currently at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. She has written a most important book, the subject of 3 awards:
Our Rightful Share : The Afro-Cuban Struggle for
Equality, 1886-1912, University of North Carolina Press, 1995
In Our Rightful Share, Aline Helg examines the issue of race in Cuban
society, politics, and ideology during the island's transition from a Spanish colony to an
independent state. She challenges Cuba's well-established myth of racial equality and
shows that racism is deeply rooted in Cuban creole society.
Our Rightful Share is the winner of 3 awards: the American Historical Association's and the Association of Caribbean Historians' awards. It just won the the 1998 Gordon K. Lewis Memorial Award from the Caribbean Studies Association, given "to an outstanding book that addresses a Pan-Caribbean problem issue."
Aline Helg. University of North Carolina Press, 1995 Aline Helg examines the issue of race in Cuban society, politics, and ideology during the island's transition from a Spanish colony to an independent states. She challenges Cuba's well-established myth of racial equality and shows that racism is deeply rooted in Cuban Creole society. Helg argues that despite Cuba's abolition of slavery in 1886 and its winning of independence in 1902, Afro-Cubans have remained marginalized in all aspects of society. After the wars for independence in which they fought en masse, Afro-Cubans demanded change politically by forming the first national black party in the western hemisphere. This challenge met with strong opposition from the white Cuban elite, culminating in the massacre of thousands of Afro-Cubans in 1912. The event effectively ended the Afro-Cuban's political organization along racial lines, and Helg stresses that although some cultural elements of African origin were integrated into official Cuban culture, true racial equality has remained elusive.
Review at Trinity College
Brazil and the United States, Colombia has the third-largest population of
African-descended peoples in the Western hemisphere. Yet the country is
commonly viewed as a nation of Andeans, whites, and mestizos
(peoples of mixed Spanish and indigenous Indian ancestry). Aline Helg
examines the historical roots of Colombia's treatment and neglect of its
Afro-Caribbean identity within the comparative perspective of the
Americas. Concentrating on the Caribbean region, she explores the role of
free and enslaved peoples of full and mixed African ancestry, elite
whites, and Indians in the late colonial period and in the processes of
independence and early nation building.
Why did race not become an organizational category in Caribbean Colombia as it did in several other societies with significant African-descended populations? Helg argues that divisions within the lower and upper classes, silence on the issue of race, and Afro-Colombians' preference for individual, local, and transient forms of resistance resulted in particular spheres of popular autonomy but prevented the development of an Afro-Caribbean identity in the region and a cohesive challenge to Andean Colombia.
Considering cities such as Cartagena and Santa Marta, the rural communities along the Magdalena River, and the vast uncontrolled frontiers, Helg illuminates an understudied Latin American region and reintegrates Colombia into the history of the Caribbean.
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