How and why has Cuba's national identity been cast in terms of a cross-cultural synthesis called mestizaje, and what roles have race, gender, sexuality, and class played in the construction of that synthesis? What specific cultural, political, and economic interests does mestizaje represent? Exploring these and other questions, Vera Kutzinski focuses on images of the mulata in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Cuban poetry, fiction, and visual arts. These images, she argues, are at the heart of Cuba's peculiar form of multiculturalism.

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