This essay examines how diasporic commonalities are experienced in the midst of cultural and linguistic difference by highlighting the making of Afro-diasporic linkages by participants in the Harlem Renaissance and the Afro-Cubanism (afrocubanismo) movement. The essay interprets the traffic between the cultural movements in Harlem and Havana as evidence of diasporization, rather than as mere background information for two distinct national movements. In the 1920s and 1930s, the boundary-crossing activity of African American and Afro-Cuban writers and musicians, such as Langston Hughes and Mario Bauzá, and the reception by their audiences produced new hierarchal and relational understandings of Afro-diasporic cultures in both countries. Cubans celebrated Hughes as a representative of the most advanced sector of the global “colored race.” At the same time, Hughes played a decisive role in the construction of Afro-Cuban culture as more authentically “African.” Although these views were suffused with projections, they illustrate some of the ways African-descended writers, musicians, and their audiences in Cuba and the United States articulated a shared diasporic imagination. Moreover, the essay highlights audience reaction to the music and literature produced by the movements and argues that expressions of affect or feelings were powerful ways that Afro-diasporic linkages were established across cultural difference.

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