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Open Access “Forging Ahead” in Banes, Cuba

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“Forging Ahead” in Banes, Cuba

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Garveyism in a United Fruit Company Town

In the early 1920s, British West Indians in Banes, Cuba, built one of the world’s most successful branches of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in the heart of the world-famous United Fruit Company’s sugar-export enclave in Cuba. This article explores the day-to-day function of the UNIA in Banes in order to investigate closely the relationship between British West Indian migration and Garveysim and, in particular, between Garvey’s movement and powerful employers of mobile West Indian labor. It finds that the movement achieved great success in Banes (and in other company towns) by meeting the very specific needs of its members as black workers laboring in sites of U.S. hegemony. Crucially, the UNIA survived, and even thrived, in a company town by taking a pragmatic approach to its dealings with the company.

Affiliations: 1: Lecturer of History and Literature, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, U.S.A. sullivanf@fas.harvard.edu

10.1163/22134360-08803061
/content/journals/10.1163/22134360-08803061
dcterms_title,pub_keyword,dcterms_description,pub_author
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In the early 1920s, British West Indians in Banes, Cuba, built one of the world’s most successful branches of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in the heart of the world-famous United Fruit Company’s sugar-export enclave in Cuba. This article explores the day-to-day function of the UNIA in Banes in order to investigate closely the relationship between British West Indian migration and Garveysim and, in particular, between Garvey’s movement and powerful employers of mobile West Indian labor. It finds that the movement achieved great success in Banes (and in other company towns) by meeting the very specific needs of its members as black workers laboring in sites of U.S. hegemony. Crucially, the UNIA survived, and even thrived, in a company town by taking a pragmatic approach to its dealings with the company.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22134360-08803061
2014-01-01
2018-04-27

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