“Comparsa habanera,” Emilio Ballagas's Emblematic Contribution to Afrocubanismo

Thomas F. Anderson

in Carnival and National Identity in the Poetry of Afrocubanismo

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780813035581
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813038131 | DOI:
“Comparsa habanera,” Emilio Ballagas's Emblematic Contribution to Afrocubanismo

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This chapter focuses on Emilio Ballagas's lively carnival poem “Comparsa habanera.” It reveals that the poem is symbolic in different ways of the ambivalence felt by middle-class Cubans toward Afro-Cubans and their culture. The chapter argues that the poem echoes the sentiment prevalent in Havana in the mid-1930s that African-influenced cultural signs would be accepted as important parts of Cuba's national identity only if they were customized to fit the standards of the middle-class majority. The poem is adorned with vivacious rhythm and colorful imagery.

Keywords: Emilio Ballagas; Comparsa habanera; middle-class Cubans; Afro-Cubans; Havana; Cuba; culture; cultural signs

Chapter.  10630 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Society and Culture

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