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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
Author: Anăstăsoaie, Marian Viorel
ISNI:       0000 0004 7661 1756
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available