Cuba in World History

History 142

Fall 2018
219 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
Tue/Thu 11am–12:30pm
Class Number: 

This course surveys Cuban history, culture, and politics from the fifteenth century to the present. We will examine both the outsized role the island has played in world history and the dramatic ways world history has refracted through the island’s turbulent past. Over this long timespan, Cuba has had relationships of colonial status with Spain, a client role with the United States, and dependency with the Soviet Union. Today it struggles to build a new post-Cold War relationship with the United States. Throughout its history, the island has played a critical part in global flows of capital, goods, people, and ideas that have profoundly altered world politics, economics, demographics, and cultures. How has Cuban history and culture been shaped by its unique position in global geopolitics, at the crossroads of Europe, the Americas, and Africa? How have inhabitants of Cuba struggled against recurring and ongoing relationships of colonialism and dependency with foreign powers? And finally, how have inhabitants of Cuba defined what it means to be Cuban both because of and in spite of these global forces? In answering these questions, we will draw on a wide array of texts (historians’ interpretations, contemporary accounts, speeches, literature, art, music, dance, and film) from long before the famous Revolution of 1959 to well after. Our goal will be to interrogate the broad sweep of Cuba’s past and the ongoing and fiercely contested process of its interpretation.