Sexual Revolutions in Cuba: Passion, Politics, and Memory

By Wilkinson, Stephen | The International Journal of Cuban Studies, Autumn 2012 | Go to article overview

Sexual Revolutions in Cuba: Passion, Politics, and Memory


Wilkinson, Stephen, The International Journal of Cuban Studies


Carrie Hamilton, Sexual Revolutions in Cuba: Passion, Politics, and Memory (University of North Carolina Press, 2012) hb 320pp, ISBN: 9780807835197

Reviewed by Stephen Wilkinson

As Elizabeth Dore says in her foreword to this book, the Cuban revolution has inspired fervent and often acrimonious arguments about its achievements and failures, none more so than in the terrain of sexuality and sexual relations. Such is the ideologically charged intensity of much of the debate surrounding sexuality in the island after 1959 that it is often extremely difficult to make a balanced picture and in that one has to give credit to Carrie Hamilton for having tried. By bringing in the voices of ordinary Cubans that were recorded as part of Elizabeth Dore's 'Cuban Voices' oral history project, Hamilton has also added another dimension to the bibliography on the subject.

This book incorporates fresh interpretations of the ways in which sexuality and the nature of desire changed since 1959 and, to a surprising extent, did not. By drawing on the oral history interviews she reaches an understanding of a variety of Cubans' attitudes towards reproductive roles, heterosexuality and marriage, relationships between races, homophobia and lesbianism. This latter topic is one that marks the book out from others in that female same-sex desire has not been accorded the attention it merits. Nor too has the issue of domestic violence, which she also addresses.

Indeed, Hamilton manages to bring a historical perspective on many of these topics that have hitherto only been discussed by anthropologists, sociologists and cultural critics and she has made some original contributions in the area of theoretical approach. …

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