Chapter

Cuban Costumbrista Portraits of Slaves in Sugarmills

Rafael Ocasio

in Afro-Cuban Costumbrismo

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780813041643
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780813043913 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813041643.003.0002
Cuban Costumbrista Portraits of Slaves in Sugarmills

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The first section, “Slavery in Cuban Costumbrismo,” traces the earliest developments of Costumbrismo in Cuba, when there was only timid incorporation of slavery issues as literary motif. Official restrictions on publication of abolitionist material determined not only the content but also the tenor of Costumbrista essays. The second section, “Humanizing Slaves in a Cuban Ingenio: Black Laborers in Costumbrista Articles by Anselmo Suárez y Romero,” examines the writer's critical position, exceptional among Costumbristas, because in these articles he dared to deal with the lives of slave fieldworkers subjected to inhumane working conditions. Some of the workers became protagonists of tragic stories. Although slaves constituted a rather large population, stringent censorship in Cuba of publications dealing with issues of slavery kept such subjects generally under control. Suárez y Romero skillfully navigated around this pressure and managed to offer portraits of rather crude scenes of life on a wealthy Cuban plantation.

Keywords: nineteenth-century Cuba; Cuban Costumbrismo essays on Black subjects; Cuban sugarmills; Cuban slavery practices; Suárez y Romero, Anselmo; Cuban abolitionist movement

Chapter.  22216 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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