Essays on Cuban History: Historiography and Research

By Louis A. Pérez Jr. | Go to book overview

Chapter 18
Research Perspectives on the Cuban Revolution: A Twenty-five-Year Assessment

That a successful popular rebellion ousted an unpopular dictator was itself not especially newsworthy--not in Latin America. But as the revolutionary process in Cuba deepened, when the revolution embraced Marxism-Leninism and aligned itself totally with the socialist bloc-- and all this occurring ninety miles from the United States, in a region traditionally secure as a North American sphere of influence in a country historically secure as a North American client-state--the importance of Cuba suddenly loomed large. These rather dramatic developments gave decisive shape to the structure and substance of subsequent Cuban historiography. The revolution immediately brought to life the prospects of Cuba as a subject of scholarly inquiry, and for the first time in a generation research on Cuba became a flourishing enterprise.

In the years that have passed since 1959, the corpus of the scholarship has acquired truly prodigious proportions. Almost from the outset, post- revolutionary research assumed several notable characteristics. This research was not without an agenda, for it was an effort inspired largely by a search for the antecedents of the revolution, resting on the unstated assumption that somewhere in the unrevealed Cuban past was to be found the cause of the Cuban conversion to the socialist faith. The past became a means through which to understand the nature of revolutionary change in Cuba, to determine more concretely, in the words of one anthology title, "What happened in Cuba?"

At the same time, the very developments that stimulated research in

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