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AbstractThe triple coordinates of youth, the Sixties and the Cuban Revolution interact to create a rich but relatively unexplored field of historical research. Previous studies of youth in Cuba have assumed a separation between young people and the Revolution, and either objectify young people as units that could be mobilized by the Revolution, or look at how young people deviated from the perceived dominant ideology of the Revolution. This study contends that, rather than being passive in the face of social and material change, young people in 1960s Cuba were active agents in that change, and played a role in defining what the Revolution was and could become. The model built here to understand young people in 1960s Cuba is based on identity theory, contending that youth identity was built at the point where young people experienced – and were responsible for forging – an emerging dominant culture of youth. The latter entered Cuban consciousness and became, over the course of the 1960s, a part of the dominant national-revolutionary identity. It was determined by three factors: firstly, leadership discourse, which laid out the view of what youth could, should or must be within the Revolution, and also helped to forge a direct relationship between the Revolution and young people; secondly, policy initiatives which linked all youth-related policy to education, therefore linking policy to the radical national tradition stemming from Martí; and thirdly, influence from outside Cuba and the ways in which external youth movements and youth cultures interplayed with Cuban culture. Through these three, youth was in the ascendancy, but, where young people challenged the positive picture of youth, moral panics ensued. Young people were neither inherent saints nor accidental sinners in Cuba in the 1960s, and sought multiple ways in which to express themselves. Firstly, they played their role as activists through the youth organisations, the AJR and the UJC. These young people were at the cutting edge of the canonised vision of youth, and consequently felt burdened by a failure to live up to such an ideal. Secondly, through massive voluntary participation in building the Revolution, through the Literacy Campaign, the militias and the aficionados groups, many young people in the 1960s internalised the Revolution and developed a revolutionary consciousness that defines their generation today. Finally, at the margin of the definition of what was considered revolutionary sat young cultural producers – those associated with El Puente, Caimán Barbudo and the Nueva Trova, and their audience – who attempted to define and redefine what it meant to be young and revolutionary. These groups all fed the culture of youth, and through them we can start to understand the uncertainties of being young, revolutionary and Cuban in this effervescent and convulsive decade.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
DescriptionSubmitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy