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Women and the Cuban Insurrection
How Gender Shaped Castro's Victory


  • Date Published: March 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316630846

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About the Authors
  • Using gender analysis and focusing on previously unexamined testimonies of women rebels, political scientist Lorraine Bayard de Volo shatters the prevailing masculine narrative of the Cuban Revolution. Contrary to the Cuban War story's mythology of an insurrection single-handedly won by bearded guerrillas, Bayard de Volo shows that revolutions are not won and lost only by bullets and battlefield heroics. Focusing on women's multiple forms of participation in the insurrection, especially those that occurred off the battlefield, such as smuggling messages, hiding weapons, and distributing propaganda, Bayard de Volo explores how gender - both masculinity and femininity - were deployed as tactics in the important though largely unexamined battle for the 'hearts and minds' of the Cuban people. Drawing on extensive, rarely-examined archives including interviews and oral histories, this author offers an entirely new interpretation of one of the Cold War's most significant events.

    • Provides fresh details about the Cuban insurrection and guerrilla war, including women's participation and rank and file rebels
    • Proposes a new theory about how the Castro-led rebels won, giving readers a new understanding of Castro's victory
    • Introduces gender analysis to the Cuban insurrection, giving a new perspective for feminist readers and those interested in gender and war
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Drawing upon impressive research, Lorraine Bayard de Volo has written a fascinating new history of the Cuban insurrection: a history from below. She convincingly shows that earlier political histories, with their focus on strategy and bullets, obscure the equally, or more, important story of ideas - efforts to capture hearts and minds - without which the revolutionaries would not have come to power.' Karen Kampwirth, Knox College, Illinois

    'The Cuban revolution will never look the same after one reads Lorraine Bayard de Volvo's deeply researched, surprising account. She has made me look afresh at women's revolutionary activism outside the mountains, at Castro's tactical gender equity, and at Che Guevara's commitment to militarized masculinity. Everyone interested in war, revolution and feminist research will have their eyes opened by this new book. That's a promise.' Cynthia Enloe, author of The Big Push: Exposing and Challenging the Persistence of Patriarchy

    'Women and the Cuban Insurrection: How Gender Shaped Castro's Victory centers on women who heretofore were rarely acknowledged but whose contribution makes this text a very inclusive history of the mid-twentieth-century Cuban insurrection. Bayard de Volo provides a rich and detailed account of the political activities of women from the 1930s onward that in fact shaped and facilitated Castro's success when he entered Havana on January 1, 1959. In doing so, Bayard de Volo recounts the thirty-year struggle from an intersectional perspective, using gender, class, age, region, and race as key points of her examination.' A. Lynn Bolles, American Historical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316630846
    • length: 280 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 151 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.39kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Revolution retold: what a gender lens tells us about the Cuban insurrection
    2. 'How can men tire when women are tireless': women rebels before Moncada
    3. A movement is born: military defeat and political victory at Moncada
    4. Abeyance and resurgence: sustaining rebellion in prison and exile
    5. Gendered rebels: barriers and privileges
    6. War stories celebrated and silenced: tactical femininity, bombing, and sexual assault in the urban underground
    7. 'Stop the murders of our children': mothers and the battle for hearts and minds
    8. Gendered rebels: the Guerrilla war of ideas
    9. Women noncombatants: multiple paths and contributions
    10. Las Marianas: even the women in arms
    11. Past is prologue: victory and consolidation.

  • Author

    Lorraine Bayard de Volo, University of Colorado Boulder
    Lorraine Bayard de Volo is chair and Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. Previously the director of the Latin American Studies Center at her university, her fieldwork in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, and the United States centers on gender and war, revolution, political and sexual violence, and social movements. She is author of Mothers of Heroes and Martyrs: Gender Identity Politics in Nicaragua, 1979–1999 (2001).

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