Indigenous Cuba : what value has indigeneity in the biggest island of the Antilles?

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Teodoro Cubenas, Carla
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The indigenous groups that lived in Cuba since pre-colonial times are believed to have been exterminated within 60 years from first contact. Nationalism has taken over indigenism through time, first during the War of Independence, then the second time during the Cuban Revolution, defending the idea of an all-embracing and uniformed identity for the ‘Cuban’, claiming that everyone was indigenous, therefore the island itself was indigenous. This dissertation aims to investigate, through the analysis of mainly historical sources and international documents, if it is currently possible to identify a distinct indigenous population in the biggest island of the Antilles. The thesis has found that several historical and political events have led to the way in which today the Cuban State portrays indigeneity. While several traditional elements dating back to before the Spanish conquest still live to this day and families with high percentages of indocuban blood still live in the mountainous regions of the island, they do not properly identify as indigenous. They instead mainly associate themselves with being ‘indigenous Cuban’, in the way which is currently the only politically indisputable indigeneity in Cuba.
Second semester University: University of Helsinki
Cuba, nationalism, indigenous peoples, national identity