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Mark Q SawyerMark Q. Sawyer
Professor, UCLA


Mark Sawyer is currently an Associate Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at UCLA, the Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Politics and the Chair of the UCLA Interdisciplinary Program in Afro-American Studies. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago in December of 1999. In fall of 2005 he was a Visiting Associate Professor at the Department of African and African-American Studies at Harvard University and also was a RWJ Scholar in Health Policy.

His published work includes a book entitled, " Racial Politics in Post Revolutionary Cuba" that received the DuBois Award for the best book by the National Conference of Black Political Scientists and the Ralph Bunche Award from the American Political Science Association. He has written articles on the intersection between race and gender in modern Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and additional work on the impact of race relations on democratic transition in Cuba. He also has interest in the area of race, immigration and citizenship around the globe. He has published in the Journal of Political Psychology, Perspectives on Politics, SOULS, as well as the UCLA Journal of International and Foreign Affairs. He has also been a writer and commentator for CNN, Fox News, La Opinion, NPR’s News and Notes, the Washington Post’s “the,” and  -- Huffington Post 


Beyonce and Jay Z Are Race Traitors for Going to Cuba !?!? 4/15/2013 Huffington Post: by Mark Sawyer, UCLA - "In the early 2000's the Cuban members of Congress funded projects located at HBCU's for scholars under contract to produce articles on racism in Cuba. Scholars visited Cuba but did no original research and largely summarized the works of scholars like myself without any of the necessary context and caveats. We were then invited to a conference at Howard University hosted by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen so they could report their "findings" on racism in Cuba and have the validation of top scholars in the field. As the conservative Miami Cubans have struggled to connect with blacks on the island they have seen talking about racism on the island as a possible entrée to Afro-Cubans."


Mark Sawyer, UCLA Political Science

Mark Sawyer - Curriculum Vitae


Mark Sawyer was a signatory to the 2009 Acting on our Conscience letter under the impetus of Carlos Moore.

Links/Enlaces top - various writings accessible here

Cuban Intervention in Angola, Google Books, 7/29/08


in Encyclopedia of the African Diaspora: Origins, Experiences, a Origins, Experiences, and Culture: Volume 1, 7/2008


Cuban Exceptionalism: Group Based Hierarchy and the Dynamics of Patriotism in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, DuBois Review, 3/1/2004, PDF

This paper examined the interface between “racial” and national identity from the perspective of two competing theoretical frameworks: the ideological asymmetry hypothesis and the thesis of Iberian Exceptionalism. In contrast to previous results found in the United States and Israel, use of survey data from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba showed some support for both theoretical positions. Consistent with the asymmetry thesis, there was strong and consistent evidence of racial hierarchy within all three Caribbean nations. However, contradicting the asymmetry hypothesis and more in line with the Iberian Exceptionalism perspective, there was a general tendency for all “races” to be equally attached to the nation in both the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Somewhat unexpectedly, Cuban Blacks tended to be slightly more positively attached to the nation than Cuban Whites. These results suggest that the precise interface between racial and national identity will be acutely influenced by the specific socio-political context within each nation.


Unlocking the Official Story: Comparing the Cuban Revolution's Approach to Race and Gender; Sawyer, Mark , UCLA J. Int'l L. & Foreign Aff. 403 (2000-2001)

Race often trumps gender at both the level of international law and politics, and within nations. At the same time, the nexus between race and gender and the complex motives of states and international actors are not explained by that simple pronouncement. The purpose of this paper is to explore the similarities and differences between how race and gender are treated by the state in post-revolutionary Cuba. In the case of
Cuba, it becomes clear that the connection between race and gender is both powerful and dynamic. Mark Q. Sawyer is an Assistant Professor of Political Science in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Los Angeles. Professor Sawyer has a joint appointment with the Center for African American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is currently co-Chair of the UCLA Cultural Studies in the African Diaspora Project. Professor Sawyer has conducted extensive research on the topic of race relations in Cuba. His manuscript Black and Red: Racial Politics in Post-Revolutionary Cuba is currently under review.  --

The race question, racial hierarchy and the state in post revolutionary Cuba, Thesis, 1999

My dissertation asks the question: why does racial hierarchy persist in modern societies? Social theory has generally contended that racial and ethnic divisions would disappear as societies moved into modernity. However, in many cases quite the opposite has occurred. An important opportunity to examine this puzzle is the case of Post-Revolutionary Cuba. The dissertation explores the case of Post-Revolutionary Cuba where despite a sweeping revolution and efforts to end discrimination and redistribute resources, patterns of racial hierarchy have remained. None of the available theories of racial politics in Cuba account for the movement toward racial equality brought on by the revolution and the ensuing stagnation and recent retreat in that process. I contend that racial formation and the persistence of racial hierarchy also require a better understanding of ideology, the state, and the impact of transnational forces. Both Liberalism and Marxism have been relatively silently on race; leaving the problem of racial hierarchy unanswered or reducible to class and market forces. This is aided by formulations of a national identity in the Cuba context that marginalizes Afro-Cubans at the expense of a unified Cuban identity.

States have competing interests when it comes to race and often have a lot at stake. Race is a primary means through which citizens define the state and the state defines itself. In Cuba, the state's interests have been in promoting the ideal of racial equality at home and abroad without creating an ongoing dialogue and critique of the regime's record on the issue. It is these competing interests that contribute to the persistence of racial hierarchy in Castro's Cuba. Finally, I argue that theoretically social scientists have also wrongly used the nation state as the boundary for an analysis of race and politics. The case of Cuba demonstrates that perceptions of racial politics on the ground are often inherently comparative. In this case negative perceptions about racial politics in the US and South Florida tempers Afro-Cuban responses to problems at home, constrained racial politics on the island, but at the same time pushed Cuba in bold new directions on the international front.  --


Selected Bibliographytop


Racial Politics in Post-Revolutionary Cuba. Cambridge University Press (2006, ISBN 0521612675). (2007 Ralph Bunche Award, American Political Science Association, & 2007 W.E.B. Du Bois Award, Best Book National Conference of Black Political Scientists).
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"Du Bois' Double Consciousness versus Latin American Exceptionalism: Joe Arroyo, Salsa and Negritude." SOULS, 2005, Volume 7, Issues 3-4 pgs.88-98.
"'Racial Democracy' in the Americas: A Latin and North American Comparison." with Peña and Sidanius Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 2004 Vol. 35, No. 6 pgs. 749-762.

"Cuban Exceptionalism: Group Based Hierarchy and the Dynamics of Patriotism in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Cuba." with Yesilernis Peña and James Sidanius The Dubois Review 2004 Vol.1, No.1.pgs.93-114.

"Contentious Pluralism: The Public Sphere and Democracy." with John Guidry Perspectives on Politics. Volume 1, Number 2, June 2003 pgs 273-289.

"Racial Politics in Multi-Ethnic America: Black and Latino Identities and Coalitions." In NEITHER ENEMIES NOR FRIENDS Latino/as, Blacks, Afro Latinos (Eds) Anani Dzidzienyo and Suzanne Oboler. New York: Palgrave Press.

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