Questioning the Cuban Exile Model: Race, Gender, and Resettlement, 1959-1979

Questioning the Cuban Exile Model: Race, Gender, and Resettlement, 1959-1979

Questioning the Cuban Exile Model: Race, Gender, and Resettlement, 1959-1979

Questioning the Cuban Exile Model: Race, Gender, and Resettlement, 1959-1979

Excerpt

The widely popular Cuban “exile model” casts Cubans of the 1960s and 1970s as better than regular immigrants or other refugees. The model presents Cubans as overtly political, highly educated, universally white, economically successful, residents of Miami, and martyrs of Castro’s revolution. While there is some truth in these superlatives, especially among the earliest refugees, the US government, media and early scholars applied the “exile model” to all Cubans of the 1960s and 1970s. Cuban American scholar Nancy Mirabal poses a theoretical challenge to the traditional historiography on Cubans in the United States. In her path-breaking essay, “‘Ser de Aquí’: Beyond the Cuban Exile Model,” Mirabal coins the phrase the “exile model” and critiques the idea of a monolithic Cuban experience. Moreover, Mirabal argues that the Cuban population in the US is now permanent and scholars need to expand the current cannon to include a more dynamic understanding of what it means to be Cuban in the US. Since waiting for Castro’s death or fall from power has dominated Cuban American politics and United States foreign policy toward Cubans, most scholarship on Cubans focuses on those still in Cuba, while the limited number of studies on Cubans in the US have failed to move beyond the “exile model.”

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