Honorable Mention, Barbara T. Christian Literary Award, Caribbean Studies Association, 2017
In the wake of the 1959 Cuban Revolution, a key state ideology developed: racism was a systemic cultural issue that ceased to exist after the Revolution, and any racism that did persist was a result of contained cases of individual prejudice perpetuated by US influence. Even after the state officially pronounced the end of racism within its borders, social inequalities tied to racism, sexism, and homophobia endured, and, during the economic liberalization of the 1990s, widespread economic disparities began to reemerge.
Cuban Underground Hip Hop focuses on a group of self-described antiracist, revolutionary youth who initiated a social movement (1996–2006) to educate and fight against these inequalities through the use of arts-based political activism intended to spur debate and enact social change. Their “revolution” was manifest in altering individual and collective consciousness by critiquing nearly all aspects of social and economic life tied to colonial legacies. Using over a decade of research and interviews with those directly involved, Tanya L. Saunders traces the history of the movement from its inception and the national and international debates that it spawned to the exodus of these activists/artists from Cuba and the creative vacuum they left behind. Shedding light on identity politics, race, sexuality, and gender in Cuba and the Americas, Cuban Underground Hip Hop is a valuable case study of a social movement that is a part of Cuba’s longer historical process of decolonization.
Tanya L. Saunders is an assistant professor in the Department of African American and African Studies at the Ohio State University.
This study is a must for any scholar on race, feminism, social movements, music, and, of course, Cuba.
Cuban Underground Hip Hop delivers an intimate history of hip hop in Cuba between 1996 and 2006…[It] stands out because of its focus on the intersectionality of race and gender.
~New West Indian Guide
Saunders has amassed a fascinating archive of the Cuban Underground Hip Hop Movement from its beginnings in the late 1990s up through 2006. Her significant achievement is that she has produced a truly intersectional analysis that is attuned to the interrelationship of race, gender, class, and sexuality.
~Aisha S. Durham, Assistant Professor of Communication, University of South Florida, author of Home with Hip Hop Feminism: Performances in Communication and Culture, and coeditor of Home Girls Make Some Noise: Hip-Hop Feminism Anthology
2. Historicizing Race, Cultural Politics, and Critical Music Cultures in Cuba
3. La Revolución dentro de la Revolución/The Revolution within the Revolution: Hip Hop, Cuba, and Afro-Descendant Challenges to Coloniality
4. Whiteness, Mulat@ness, Blackness: Racial Identities and Politics within the Cuban Underground Hip Hop Movement
5. “Never Has Anyone Spoken to You Like This”: Examining the Lexicon of Cuban Underground Hip Hop Artivist Discourses
6. “I’m a Feminist, But I Don’t Hate Men”: Emergent Black Feminist Discourses and Identity Politics within the Cuban Underground Hip Hop Movement
7. Kruda Knowledge, Kruda Discourse: Las Krudas CUBENSI, Transnational Black Feminism, and the Queer of Color Critique
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