“La mujercita intervino”: Foundational Nonfiction during the Intervención Americana
Keywords:Harvard Summer School for Cuban Teachers;, U.S. Occupation of Cuba;, Nineteenth-Century Latin American Literature;, Nineteenth-Century U.S. Latino Studies;, Afro-Cuban Studies
This article will focus on how the discourses surrounding the 1900 Summer School for Cuban Teachers at Harvard University mobilized tropes of blackness and femininity as technologies for negotiating the tensions between Spanish imperial culture, Cuban cultural nationalism, and North American cultural imperialism during the first U.S. occupation of Cuba. Considering the activities of the Harvard Summer School for Cuban Teachers not only as a series of historical events, but as a set of socially symbolic performances, this paper explores the gendering and racialization of the Cuban teachers in period documents relating to the Harvard project. In particular, I will focus on the marriage of Alexis Everett Frye, head of schools in occupied Cuba, and María Teresa Arruebarrena, one of the Cuban teachers in Boston, which seems to function narratologically as the foundational union of an alliance between U.S. empire and the creole elite –an international arrangement that proved complicated due to North American racialized views of Cubans, much to the chagrin of white members of the island’s ruling classes. Hybridizing the narrative and performative dimensions of nationalism in a transnational context, the marriage serves as an (anti)imperial allegory in which the question of Cuban sovereignty is negotiated through the legal possession of Arruebarrena’s body. In this way, while paying attention to the Cuban nationalist discourses that are articulated in texts concerning the Harvard Summer School, the article considers how this situation exceeds the national and literary as categories of analysis.
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