In the early twentieth century, laborers from the British West Indies immigrated to Cuba, attracted by employment opportunities. The Anglo-Caribbean communities flourished, but after 1959, many of their cultural institutions were dismantled: the revolution dictated that in the name of unity there would be no hyphenated Cubans. This book turns an ethnographic lens on their descendants who--during the Special Period in the 1990s--moved to "rescue their roots" by revitalizing their ethnic associations and reestablishing ties outside the island.
Based on Andrea J. Queeley's fieldwork in Santiago and Guantanamo, "Rescuing Our Roots" looks at local and regional identity formations as well as racial politics in revolutionary Cuba. Queeley argues that, as the island experienced a resurgence in racism due in part to the emergence of the dual economy and the reliance on tourism, Anglo-Caribbean Cubans revitalized their communities and sought transnational connections not just in the hope of material support but also to challenge the association between blackness, inferiority, and immorality. Their desire for social mobility, political engagement, and a better economic situation operated alongside the fight for black respectability.
Unlike most studies of black Cubans, which focus on Afro-Cuban religion or popular culture, Queeley's penetrating investigation offers a view of strategies and modes of black belonging that transcend ideological, temporal, and spatial boundaries."