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Growing plants and domesticating the Revolution: tobacco, the revolutionary state, and the micro-politics of value in a community of tobacco-producers in western Cuba

Anăstăsoaie, Marian Viorel; (2019) Growing plants and domesticating the Revolution: tobacco, the revolutionary state, and the micro-politics of value in a community of tobacco-producers in western Cuba. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis explores the interactions between a local model of livelihood centred on tobacco-growing and the universalist policies and political cosmology of the Cuban state. It is grounded in 14 months of fieldwork in San Luis, a municipality in the Pinar del Río region. Based on an analysis of tobacco as a marker of regional identity, it is argued that growing tobacco is important to both the reproduction of local households (complementing food staple production) and the making of local male identities (complementing cockfighting). The thesis examines cultural metaphors and work practices that make up the distinctive model of tobacco-growing, characterized by a gendered division of labour. Economic practices are always intertwined with the politics of the Cuban Revolution, this (sometimes tense) relationship also leaving space for manoeuvre at the everyday level. Growers, despite operating under state monopoly, deployed tactics to obtain a better price for their crops. A further way of enhancing tobacco’s value similar to branding is examined, by focusing on Alejandro Robaina’s case, the only grower to have his name on state cigars. It is further demonstrated how producing food was not only essential for household reproduction but also politically charged because of the government’s demand for food production to be increased. Cockfighting, a widespread illegal practice in rural Cuba, is further explored as a central arena for reinforcing male reputation. One of the main findings of the thesis is that, if staged as part of popular culture, cockfighting could find recognition from local state bureaucrats as long as more serious offences, such as informal commerce, illegal emigration, or acts of dissidence, were kept under control. Overall, this thesis suggests that people’s actions and moral evaluations indicate a process of domesticating the Revolution, both by adhering to its principles and by resisting some of its policies, especially by younger people who feel less loyal towards it.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Growing plants and domesticating the Revolution: tobacco, the revolutionary state, and the micro-politics of value in a community of tobacco-producers in western Cuba
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10070318
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