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Aisha FinchAisha K. Finch

Rethinking Slave Rebellion in Cuba: La Escalera and the Insurgencies of 1841-1844

"While acknowledging the role of foreign abolitionists and white creoles in the broader history of emancipation, Finch teases apart the organization, leadership, and effectiveness of the black insurgents in midcentury dissident mobilizations that emerged across western Cuba, presenting compelling evidence that black women played a particularly critical role."

Rethinking Slave Rebellion in Cuba: La Escalera and the Insurgencies of 1841-1844
Aisha K. Finch
Abstract  - chapter summaries under "Contents"
This book publishes innovative works in Cuban studies, drawn from diverse subjects and disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, from the colonial period through the post-Cold War era. Featuring scholarship engaged with theoretical approaches and interpretive frameworks informed by social, cultural, and intellectual perspectives, the series highlights the exploration of historical and cultural circumstances and conditions related to the development of Cuban self-definition and national identity. 

Rethinking Slave Rebellion in Cuba: La Escalera and the Insurgencies of 1841-1844 by Aisha K. Kinch
Envisioning La Escalera--an underground rebel movement largely composed of Africans living on farms and plantations in rural western Cuba--in the larger context of the long emancipation struggle in Cuba, Aisha Finch demonstrates how organized slave resistance became critical to the unraveling not only of slavery but also of colonial systems of power during the nineteenth century.

While the discovery of La Escalera unleashed a reign of terror by the Spanish colonial powers in which hundreds of enslaved people were tortured, tried, and executed, Finch revises historiographical conceptions of the movement as a fiction conveniently invented by the Spanish government in order to target anticolonial activities. Connecting the political agitation stirred up by free people of color in the urban centers to the slave rebellions that rocked the countryside, Finch shows how the rural plantation was connected to a much larger conspiratorial world outside the agrarian sector. While acknowledging the role of foreign abolitionists and white creoles in the broader history of emancipation, Finch teases apart the organization, leadership, and effectiveness of the black insurgents in midcentury dissident mobilizations that emerged across western Cuba, presenting compelling evidence that black women played a particularly critical role.

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Breaking the Chains, Forging the Nation: The Afro-Cuban Fight for Freedom and Equality, 1812-1912
books.google.com/books?id=U3SMDwAAQBAJ 

Breaking the Chains, Forging the Nation offers a new perspective on black political life in Cuba by analyzing the time between two hallmark Cuban events, the Aponte Rebellion of 1812 and the Race War of 1912. In so doing, this anthology provides fresh insight into the ways in which Cubans practiced and understood black freedom and resistance, from the aftermath of the Haitian Revolution to the early years of the Cuban republic. Bringing together an impressive range of scholars from the field of Cuban studies, the volume examines, for the first time, the continuities between disparate forms of political struggle and racial organizing during the early years of the nineteenth century and traces them into the early decades of the twentieth.

Matt Childs, Manuel Barcia, Gloria García, and Reynaldo Ortíz-Minayo explore the transformation of Cuba’s nineteenth-century sugar regime and the ways in which African-descended people responded to these new realities, while Barbara Danzie León and Matthew Pettway examine the intellectual and artistic work that captured the politics of this period. Aisha Finch, Ada Ferrer, Michele Reid-Vazquez, Jacqueline Grant, and Joseph Dorsey consider new ways to think about the categories of resistance and agency, the gendered investments of traditional resistance histories, and the continuities of struggle that erupted over the course of the mid-nineteenth century. In the final section of the book, Fannie Rushing, Aline Helg, Melina Pappademos, and Takkara Brunson delve into Cuba’s early nationhood and its fraught racial history. Isabel Hernández Campos and W. F. Santiago-Valles conclude the book with reflections on the process of history and commemoration in Cuba.

Together, the contributors rethink the ways in which African-descended Cubans battled racial violence, created pathways to citizenship and humanity, and exercised claims on the nation state. Utilizing rare primary documents on the Afro-Cuban communities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Breaking the Chains, Forging the Nation explores how black resistance to exploitative systems played a central role in the making of the Cuban nation.

Articles/Artículostop

Rethinking Slave Rebellion in Cuba: La Escalera and the insurgencies of 1841–1844 by Aisha K. Finch, Review by Sarah L Franklin  4/19/2017 Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History: "Slaves were actors in an Atlantic world; they engaged the market economy; they escaped their bondage, if only for a night; they participated in religious events beyond the dominion of their White oppressors. In doing so, they created an environment in which they could both plan a rebellion and develop a hierarchy of leadership. Significantly, that leadership, as Finch effectively argues, was more than just coachmen and those slaves placed in positions of authority by Whites. It also included Black women, women whose role in slave rebellion has been obscured, sometimes by the worldview of those in power who in many ways determined the nature of the interrogation, but also by the women themselves, who deftly and effectively manipulated the power dynamic at play."

Finch Interviewed by Goldthree on Gender, Slavery, and the Archive in Cuba  12/16/2016 African Diaspora Phd: "Finally, I want to stress that there is an important element to conceptualizing freedom that is very gendered. What would it mean to think about freedom as fundamentally premised on a certain kind of gender equity—on women who are interested in protecting themselves from sexual assault, from unwanted pregnancies, and from other forms of violence? How does that shift the discourse we have about freedom and about slave resistance to think about those issues? We have to understand that during moments of insurgent rupture, enslaved people, men and women, shared in a common struggle, but that same struggle was continually being defined and redefined along lines of gender, ethnicity, geography, and class."

REVIEW: Rethinking Slave Rebellion in Cuba. By Anasa Hicks  8/1/2016 Cuba Counterpoints: "Finch also challenges scholarly understandings of women’s roles in insurgencies, and the gendered nature of rebellion. Enslaved and freed women hosted planning sessions in their kitchens and living spaces; kept their plans a secret; and became the symbolic queens of insurgencies on specific plantations. As such, Finch highlights the emotional and psychic labor of rebellion that enslaved and freed African-descended women performed. The use of kitchens and female-owned homes to discuss and plan insurgency, she contends, “illustrates what feminist scholars have long argued, that the household is inherently a site of political struggle, subjectivity and negotiation” (124)."
   

Links/Enlacestop

Aisha Finch’s Rethinking Slave Rebellion in Cuba Wins the Lapidus Center’s First Annual Harriet Tubman Prize
www.lapiduscenter.org/rethinking-slave-rebellion-in-cuba-wins-the-lapidus-centers-first-annual-harriet-tubman-prize/

uncpress.flexpub.com/preview/rethinking

www.genderstudies.ucla.edu/faculty/aisha-finch

Harriet Tubman Prize Talk With Aisha K. Finch on Livestream, Video

 

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