Race, Labor, and Empire in the Twentieth-Century Caribbean, 1898–1948
Cambridge University Press 2018
Jorge L. Giovannetti-Torres' new book Black British Migrants in Cuba: Race, Labor, and Empire in the Twentieth-Century Caribbean, 1898–1948 (Cambridge University Press, 2018) invites readers to enter the world of empire and labor migration in all its complexity. Giovannetti-Torres focuses on the workers and their interactions with British colonial officials, American landowners and sugar producers, and local and national-level members of the Cuban government. Black British workers arrived as Cubans were reckoning with racist violence in tension with supposedly race-blind nationalist ideology, and often bore the brunt of animosity towards people of African descent. At the same time these workers were integral to the growth of the sugar industry and the efforts to meet demand in the United States and the UK. The book offers a clear explanatory framework for this explosive setting, but it also unfolds like a novel, with striking characters and sharp observations.