Conceiving Cuba: Reproduction, Women, and the State in Post-Soviet Cuba

By Elise Andaya | Go to book overview

7
Conclusion
Reproducing the Revolution

This project was initially conceived as a study of the local practice of reproductive health care in Havana. As feminist scholars have long reminded us, however, reproduction is intricately enmeshed in broader cultural, social, and political- economic systems. Following the threads of women’s reproductive narratives and practices led me far beyond the medical clinic to consider how concerns about familial and household reproduction articulate with broader tensions around the stability and transformation of gendered citizens and the socialist revolution in a post- Soviet economy.

This book has argued that attention to the range of social reproduction in post- Soviet Cuba casts a bright light on the gendered organization of society and the shifting relationship of the state to its citizens. As Susan Gal and Gail Kligman assert (2000, 28), debates about reproduction can be understood as coded discussions in which “the morality and desirability of political institutions is imagined, and claims for the ‘goodness’ of state forms are made.” In Cuba, state policies have explicitly intervened to shape reproductive practices (in the realm of both prenatal care and abortion) in order to achieve the desired reproductive health indices that form a central pillar in its international claims to moral modernity. More broadly, the socialist state has also attempted to shape its population and produce a new socialist citizen, by equalizing the terms for the reproduction and nurturance of children through policies targeting education, health, and other forms of social life.

Yet discourses around reproduction are also a key forum through which women and men evaluate the state’s claims to nurturance and socialist progress. Reflecting Cuba’s impressive human and financial investment into reproductive health care, the women I came to know almost universally extolled the tremendous accomplishments of this aspect of the socialist experiment. At

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