Faculty Mentors

Dr. Stephanie Opperman


The Chinese legacy in Cuba exists in a dual state, at once both a fundamental aspect of the Cuban people and the Cuban nationality while also an oft-overlooked strand in the fabric of Cuban society and culture. While today the official number of Chinese-born Cubans in Cuba is low, the number of Chinese-descendants in Cuba may well number in the hundreds of thousands. This duality merits exploration, as it sheds light on the unique experiences of Chinese Cubans and Chinese-descendants through several eras of Cuban history. Most interestingly, the role and presence of Chinese Cubans in the Cuban Revolution provides unique insight on the impact of the Cuban Communist Revolution on the island’s race relations—as this movement and its policies served as watershed moment for the integration of visible and cultural Chinese into greater Cuban society. As a transnational group, Chinese Cubans existed neither inside of the black-white racial binary standard in Cuban culture nor within the niche this paradigm provided to “mulatto” Cubans or other “mixed” Cubans of African-descent. While assimilation and various racial re-classifications offered some degree of integration, Chinese Cubans often appeared as wholly foreign to Cuban society until the extensive participation of Chinese Cubans in the Communist Revolution as well as implemented Revolutionary racial policies finally legitimized and normalized the Cuban peoplehood and nationhood of Chinese Cubans.



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