Garveyism, the United Negro Improvement Association, and the Construction of Black Identities in Early 20th Century Cuba
Coleman, Taylor Ashleigh
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This essay focuses on the arrival and development of Marcus Garvey’s UNIA in Cuba from 1920-1940 and its influence on the development of black identities among Afro-Cubans. Garvey and the UNIA transformed early 20 th century Cuba into a space where culturally and ethnically diverse Afro-descendants could create diasporic linkages through shared racial and social commonalities. The Pan-African ideologies of Garveyism and the UNIA not only transcended borders to create a transnational notion of black solidarity, but were also instrumental in creating distinct black identities among Afro-Cubans. Using a historical textual analysis of both primary sources—such as newspaper articles, official UNIA correspondence, etc.—and secondary sources, this essay examines the impact of Garveyism on identity construction among Afro-Cubans in the early 20 th century. In addition, to theoretically frame this piece I invoke Peter Burke’s Identity Theory which argues that identities are often defined through social interaction within the context of complex, diverse societies.