Supplemental Materials include online resources to accompany the printed unit, links to resources on other sites, and a list of recommended print resources.
Contesting Cuba's Past and Future
Second Edition. October 2011.
Ninety miles off the coast of Florida, Cuba has fascinated generations of Americans and U.S. political leaders. It has also occupied a unique position in the minds of people around the world, particularly since 1959 when the Cuban revolution, led by Fidel Castro, began making major changes to Cuba's government, economy, and society. While the revolution brought opportunities and advances long denied to many Cubans, others lost property, jobs, and the positions they held in Cuban society. Cubans today have very different opinions about their country and its history, and this affects how they think about the future.
Focusing on the Cuban perspective, Contesting Cuba's Past and Future traces Cuba's history from the country's precolonial past to its most recent economic, social, and political changes. Students recreate the discussions Cubans on the island are having about their future.
The readings in this unit explore Cuba's contested history and how it will affect the direction Cuba takes in the coming years.
The Choices Role Play
Working with three divergent options for Cuba's future, students step into the shoes of ordinary Cubans and consider a series of questions. Should Cuba continue along the path started by Fidel Castro? How should Cuba relate to its neighbors and the rest of the world? What values will be most important to Cubans in the coming years? What should Cuba's future be?
José Martí and His Legacy
Using a variety of primary sources as well as a timeline and map, students assess the contested legacy of José Martí among Cubans.
The Dance of the Millions
Students analyze economic data from Cuba's "dance of the millions" in 1920 and compare Cuban sugar to commodities in Germany that same year.
Using a variety of Cuban, U.S., Russian, South African, Angolan, and European sources, students assess competing perspectives of Cuba's foreign policy in Angola.
The Special Period
Using numerous sources from the 1990s, including literature, hip-hop lyrics, jokes, and art, students explore the relationship between politics and popular culture.
Role-Playing the Three Options
Working collaboratively to present different options to a group of fictional Cuban citizens, students clarify and evaluate various political and economic options.
Students create their own working definitions of "democracy" and explore a variety of media sources to assess claims that Cuba is a democracy.
Cuban American Experiences
Using excerpts of Cuban American memoirs, students create characters representing a wide array of Cuban American experiences and points of view.