Jill Lane’s Blackface Cuba provides truly extraordinary insight into the way Cubanness was desired, imagined, and played out — in blackface — on the bufo stage in nineteenth-century colonial Cuba. Unlike uncomplicated critiques of blackface in the United States (with the possible exception of W. T. Lhamon Jr.’s Raising Cain: Blackface Performance from Jim Crow to Hip Hop), Blackface Cuba ambitiously, yet correctly, posits that blackface farce — with all its racist, colonial trappings — did, in fact, create a performative oppositional and alternative reality to the colonial condition of the island’s whites and blacks.

Her intertextual reading of original nineteenth-century bufo materials (as well as novels, newspaper articles, and reviews), which are quoted both in the original Spanish and in careful and straightforward English translation, focuses not only on the black-face stereotype itself but also — and very importantly — on...

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