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Cuba and the Politics of Passion

Damián J. Fernández
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    Cuba and the Politics of Passion
    Book Description:

    Cuban politics has long been remarkable for its passionate intensity, and yet few scholars have explored the effect of emotions on political attitudes and action in Cuba or elsewhere. This book thus offers an important new approach by bringing feelings back into the study of politics and showing how the politics of passion and affection have interacted to shape Cuban history throughout the twentieth century.

    Damián Fernández characterizes the politics of passion as the pursuit of a moral absolute for the nation as a whole. While such a pursuit rallied the Cuban people around charismatic leaders such as Fidel Castro, Fernández finds that it also set the stage for disaffection and disconnection when the grand goal never fully materialized. At the same time, he reveals how the politics of affection-taking care of family and friends outside the formal structures of government-has paradoxically both undermined state regimes and helped them remain in power by creating an informal survival network that provides what the state cannot or will not.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79879-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xvi)
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  5. 1 BRINGING BACK THAT LOVING FEELING Passion, Affection, and Politics
    (pp. 1-24)

    Cuban politics have revolved around two poles: the politics of passion and the politics of affection. The heart of the politics of passion is the crusade for absolute moral ends for the community at large. The politics of affection respond to a different beat: an instrumental and affective logic that justifies breaking the norms of the state to fulfill personal needs (material and otherwise) as well as those of loved ones. Contending logics aside, both share an emotional intensity that has marked Cuban political history. Before exploring the sources, meaning, and impact of the politics of passion and affection and...

  6. 2 WITH FEELING NOW The Political Culture of Cuba Reconsidered
    (pp. 25-42)

    What are the sources of the politics of passion and affection in Cuba? How have they manifested themselves in the country’s political culture, and how have they influenced political developments over time? What impact have they had on the society, the state, and the economy? I begin to address these questions by providing an overview of Cuban political culture with emotions considered. The politics of emotions reveal ways in which Cubans perceive and pursue politics as passion and affection and how these have been mediated by Cuban political culture, especially bylo informaland the material conditions on the island....

  7. 3 EMOTIONAL POLITICAL HISTORY Cuba in the Twentieth Century
    (pp. 43-61)

    This chapter offers a rereading of Cuban politics fromthe independence movement in the nineteenth century to the 1990s with emotions considered in an attempt to uncover the heart of Cuban politics. To understand Cuba’s political history, particularly from the perspective of the protagonists, one should feel it. In the following account I attempt to do just that by imbuing the past with the passion and affection of the principal and supporting actors. To that end I rely on documents that reveal the general political climate as it relates particularly to the politics of passion and affection in specific historical contexts....

  8. 4 AN AFFAIR OF THE HEART Passion, Affection, and Revolution
    (pp. 62-81)

    The Cuban revolution of 1959, like other revolutions, was an affair of the heart. To understand its origins one must locate the passion and affection in it. The moral imperative for a new Cuba brought the rebels and the population together. The networks of affection made revolutionary organization possible in its formative stage, and affection also cemented the bonds between leaders and followers. The Cuban revolution demonstrates the constructive dimension of the emotional in the political. Since modern times, passion has been considered detrimental to politics insofar as it threatens the social order. Yet emotions in general can help to...

  9. 5 LOSING THAT LOVING FEELING The Regeneration of Passion and Affection
    (pp. 82-100)

    From the 1960s to the 1990s the affective and passionate foundation of Cuban politics changed. Nowhere is the transformation better reflected than in young people’s feelings about the political system. The interaction betweenlos jóvenes(youth) and the government mirrors the general dynamics of statesociety relations over the past four decades: erosion of the politics of passion, fading affection for charismatic leadership, and loss of attachment to the status quo. As a result the reproduction of the institutions of the socialist regime is in question. In contrast to the initial years of the revolution, by the late 1990s the predominant...

  10. 6 WHERE DID OUR LOVE GO? Emotions and the Politics of lo informal
    (pp. 101-122)

    As the politics of passion failed to sustain collective politics over time, the politics of affection became the main expression of social interaction on the island. In the politics of affection Cubans found a way of dealing with material and affective needs that were not satisfied in the state-controlled arenas of public life. Economic decline, government’s inability to enact reforms, bureaucratic inefficiency, officially imposed limits on self-expression, and pervasive mistrust contributed to the proliferation and predominance of informal spaces and practices in which affection and its politics played a leading role. Precisely inlo informalthe socialist state has encountered...

  11. 7 BUT WILL YOU LOVE ME TOMORROW? Passion, Affection, and Civil Society in Transition
    (pp. 123-141)

    Will the informality pervasive in Cuban socialism and the politics of affection that sustain it contribute to political transition on the island? In what ways willlo informaltend to facilitate or inhibit change? Do the politics of affection contribute to the formation of civil society and democratization? I address these questions here by looking to the future of Cuban politics from the vantage point of passion and affection. To start, I pose a basic, albeit neglected, question in the literature on transitions and institutionalism: Where does civil society emerge from? The question intersects issues of institutions, behavior, and political...

  12. 8 EPILOGUE Passion and Affection from a Distance
    (pp. 142-150)

    Passion and affection are not exclusive to Cuban politics. On the contrary, emotions illuminate how people relate to the social and the political, what they consider important, and how they express and interpret interests and identities. Although natural in the sense of having a physical biological dimension, the emotions should be understood as cultural expressions that, while sharing similarities across different contexts, are marked by local specificities. Among Cubans living outside the island (also referred to as exiles, refugees, émigrés, migrants, the diaspora, the transnational community, and, in the United States, Cuban-Americans), politics have also been construed as passion and...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 151-160)
    (pp. 161-167)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 168-172)