Marriage, Class and Colour in Nineteenth-Century Cuba

A Study of Racial Attitudes and Sexual Values in a Slave Society

Subjects: Gender Studies, Anthropology, History, Caribbean Studies, Class Studies
Paperback : 9780472064052, 224 pages, 20 tables, 5.375 x 8.5, June 1989
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A study of marriage patterns in 19th-century Cuba

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Intermarriage and family honour 11
Parental opposition to intermarriage 14
Intermarriage and politics 20
Mutual compensation of status 22
Public safety 26
Intermarriage and Catholic doctrine 42
Social equilibrium and Catholic morality 45
Freedom of choice against hierarchy 48
The white mans view 57
Preference for concubinage 63
Reasons for intermarriage 64
Colour as a symbol of social status 71
Colour as a symbol of the division of labour 80
Intraracial marriage 82
Marriage between coloured people 91
Elopement and seduction 103
Elopement with a view to marriage 105
Elopement by coloured people 106
the affirmation of virility 109
Elopement by coloured people 112
preeminence saved but honour lost 113
The honour of the coloured woman 115
Conclusion Some analytical comparisons 120
Matrifocality in the Caribbean 124
Caste in India and race in America 130
A last word on marriage 139
Three Cuban genealogies 143

Notes to the text 148
Bibliography 188
Index 197



Marriage, Class and Colour in Nineteenth-Century Cuba challenges conventional ideas about the roots of Cuban race relations. Verena Martinez-Alier proposes a relational model for the study of sexual values and social inequality. She deals with Cuban notions of honor and virtue while describing complex interconnections between class and perceived racial status that determined the choice of sexual and marriage partners. First published in 1974, Marriage, Class and Colour in Nineteenth-Century Cuba is now a classic, a pathbreaking encounter of anthropology with history that points the way for future investigations. With this edition, the work of this pioneering scholar is made available again, with a new introduction by the author.