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Open Access Hidden markers, open secrets: on naming, race-marking, and race-making in Cuba

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Hidden markers, open secrets: on naming, race-marking, and race-making in Cuba

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image of New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids

Focuses on how in Cuba race-marking was interrelated with surname-giving, also after the abolition of slavery. Through researching life histories on the local level in the Cienfuegos region, the author examines names of former slaves, finding that these were after abolition in notarial records often marked with the adjectives s.o.a., or "sin otro apellido" (without other surname, taking into account the Iberian double surname tradition). This, according to him, points to a stigmatization of these black citizens and related to their former status as possession, and is thus a racial marker, only more hidden than the open racial assignations during slavery. He relates these postemancipation surnames of former slaves to the dotation of surnames during slavery, whereby most surnames of slaves were those of the last owner of the slaves. He also discusses differences in name-giving between the notarial records and everyday life. He further indicates that a new racism developed in the Cuban society of the late 19th c. and early 20th c., which was voiced more openly in the realm of culture, and regarding events as incarceration and death, and more hidden within the civil and judicial spheres, where the fiction of a race-blind republic was maintained.

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