"This original study explores the works of four of Cuba's most renowned intellectuals and the various ways they created and proposed a particular view of Cuban identity. Maguire (Northwestern Univ.) contends that Fernando Ortiz, Lydia Cabrera, Alejo Carpentier, and Nicolis Guillen utilized ethnographic and literary discourses to forge a unique literary space in which to imagine the nation. As a result of Cuba's racial makeup, Cuban intellectuals sought to promote Cuba abroad as both modern and unique. As Maguire shows, "signifying" becomes a racial and national strategy in Cabrera's short fiction and Guillen's poetry. The final chapter goes beyond Cuba to compare Cabrera and Zora Neale Hurston and the ways in which the figure of the ethnographer within their texts becomes a tool for negotiating the power differentials involved in talking about race. The epilogue offers an overview of race and ethnographic literature since 1959."
Maguire’s Racial Experiments is an invaluable guide to the unresolved racial dilemma of constructing a Cuban national narrative.
--Research in African Literatures
Carefully places Cabrera’s work in dialogue with key writers in order to situate her Afro-Cubanism in the context of Négritude, the Harlem Renaissance and what Petrine Archer-Shaw has termed ‘Negrophilia’ in Paris. . . .Maguire’s accessible work should bring Cabrera’s writings to wider audiences.
Insightful . . . carefully analyzes the intricate and complex relationships in Cuba between race, ethnography, literature, and gender in a discourse on nation that has suffered and continues to suffer transformations.
--Revista de estudios Hispanicos
A welcome addition . . . to studies of racial representation in post-independence Cuba. Seamlessly integrating historical contextualization with close readings of influential literary and ethnographic texts, Maguire offers us a nuanced comparative analysis of Cuban “racial experiments” from the early-twentieth century to the first years of the Cuban Revolution.