Although many other ethnic and cultural studies have moved beyond essentialist labels and categories, Cuban-American studies persists in categorizing the people belonging to the cultural group in terms of how much time they have spent in Cuba, thus creating a hierarchy of "authentic" Cuban-ness. Isabel Alvarez Borland gives a comprehensive overview of Cuban-American literary categories, and through her description we can see how these categories may lend themselves to stratification. These categories include: the first generation, the second generation, the one-and-a-halfer, and the ethnic writer. To say that one generation of Cuban exiles is more or less authentically Cuban discounts the emotional connection of individuals to a homeland—a homeland that is now different for each generation, and therefore, all Cuban-Americans live with constructed ideas of Cuba that are not necessarily reflective of a "reality" of Cuba. Nevertheless, this does not necessarily mean that any of these individuals are any less Cuban or any less culturally or emotionally impacted by Cuba, as evidenced by someone like Cristina García who delves into Cuban culture in her writing and studying. The Agüero Sisters by Cristina García, can be read as a critique of this cultural categorization through the way in which characters in the novel obsess over taxonomizing animals and even other people. It seems in order for Cuban-American studies to move forward productively, these labels must be revised.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Walton, Ashley Noelle, "Power by Possession: Cuban-American Types and Collecting in The Agüero Sisters" (2012). Theses and Dissertations. 3001.
García, The Agüero Sisters, Cuban-American, taxonomy, collecting