The Introduction maps out the scope of the case studies in the book and defines and discusses key terms including mulata, representation and performance. It devotes particular attention to the tropes and the stakes of national identity, especially in relation to ideological, political and economic issues. While the mulata is most prominent among tropic figures of national identity, the guajiro, the white peasant, the negrito, the comic black, and the gallego, or Spanish immigrant are also considered. Discussion of relevant literature on Cuba, the mulata, visual and performative studies, postcolonial studies and identity politics is contextualized. Introduction of case studies taken up in later chapters analyze the representation of the mulata in relation to current events, asking “what work is the figure doing?” and also linking the mulata to the three cardinal positions: national icon, embodiment of desire, and patron saint.
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