Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2016

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Romance Languages and Literature: Hispanic Studies

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



My dissertation studies the cultural, social, and political associations linked to the civil rights movement in Cuba during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which witnessed the abolition of slavery, the crumbling of colonialism and the entrance of black intellectuals into formal politics. I trace the emergence of a black public sphere and analyze the networks of communication among people of color in Cuba and the wider Black Atlantic through sources that include antislavery narratives, the black press, court cases and secret police records. I argue that people of color in Cuba, enslaved and freed alike, engaged in political and intellectual activity throughout the nineteenth century and played a much more active role in shaping the way race relations, blackness and Cuban identity were formed than intellectual and political histories tend to show. A driving question of Binding Freedom is how collective consciousness is articulated through print culture and converted into social movements. Thus a major thrust of the study centers on the limitations of antislavery narratives as well as the social and economic hurdles the black press encountered and of the ways in which the consumers and producers of the papers negotiated these difficulties. The second half of the project focuses on the transition from colonialism to colorblind republicanism to map how the black press and civic organizations adapted their discourse and tactics to confront new forms of social and political oppression. As an analysis of a transnational public sphere forged by black people in Cuba, the Caribbean and the US, this dissertation contributes to our understanding of the social formation of diasporic communities, black political thought and Cuban social and intellectual history.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

William Elzbieta G. Acree Sklodowska

Committee Members

Yuko Miki, Ignacio Snchez Prado, Rafia Zafar,


Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.7936/K7930RGF