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Racial Geographies, Imperial Transitions: Property Ownership and Race Relations in Cienfuegos, Cuba, 1894–1899

  • Author(s): Lucero, Bonnie
  • et al.
Abstract

This article explores race relations in the provincial city of Cienfuegos, Cuba, during a time of immense political change from 1894 to 1899. In those five years, Cuba was transformed from a Spanish colony struggling for independence to an occupied territory of the United States. This political transformation brought into direct confrontation two models of race relations: one Spanish, characterized by racial integration, and the other American, renowned for Jim Crow segregation. This essay examines the lived significance of this political transformation through interracial property transactions recorded in the notarial protocols of Cienfuegos. The findings suggest that the final war of independence provided opportunities for Afro-descendants to purchase prime properties within the official city bounds. Yet, with US intervention in 1898, a subtle but increasing marginalization of men and women of color from the market in urban property is evident. Lucero contends that this marginalization reflects a shift in race relations due to the American imperial presence.

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