Promoting the revolutionary socialist project of equality and dignity for all, the slogan !Venceremos! (We shall overcome!) appears throughout Cuba, everywhere from newspapers to school murals to nightclubs. Yet the accomplishments of the Cuban state are belied by the marginalization of blacks, the prejudice against sexual minorities, and gender inequities. !Venceremos? is a groundbreaking ethnography on race, desire, and belonging among blacks in early-twenty-first-century Cuba, as the nation opens its economy to global capital. Expanding on Audre Lorde's vision of embodied, even "useful," desire, Jafari S. Allen shows how black Cubans engage in acts of "erotic self-making," reinterpreting, transgressing, and potentially transforming racialized and sexualized interpellations of their identities. He illuminates intimate spaces of autonomy created by people whose multiply subaltern identities have rendered them illegible to state functionaries, and to most scholars. In everyday practices in Havana and Santiago de Cuba-including Santeria rituals, gay men's parties, hip hop concerts, the tourist-oriented sex trade, lesbian organizing, HIV education, and just hanging out-Allen highlights small but significant acts of struggle for autonomy and dignity.
Jafari S. Allen is Assistant Professor of African American Studies and Anthropology at Yale University.
Acknowledgments ix Introduction. Invoking "A larger freedom" 1 1. Looking (at) "Afro-Cuba(n)" 19 2. Discursive Sleight of Hand: Race, Sex, Gender 41 3. The Erotics and Politics of Self-making 74 4. De Cierta Manera . . . Hasta Cierto Punto (One Way or Another . . . Up to a Certain Point) 100 5. Friendship as a Mode of Survival 129 6. Hagamos un Chen! (We Make Change!) 157 Coda: Vamos a Vencer! (We Will Win!) 186 Notes 195 References 211 Index 233