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Antonio Maceo Grajales (1845–1896) is one of the most celebrated heroes of Cuban independence. Though he died before he could see the dawn of a sovereign, if U.S.-occupied, Cuba, Maceo would become an important node of nationalist commemoration. Throughout this process, Maceo’s blackness represented both a source of his prestige—the struggle against African slavery had been intimately tied to independence—and a barometer of lingering racial inequalities. Posthumous depictions thus tended to downplay racial tensions in a unifying vision of nation. Yet Maceo’s martyrdom in the Spanish-Cuban-American War also reverberated in more uncanny registers. Before and after his death, apocryphal sons emerged periodically from the shadows, opening battles over Maceo’s legacy. In their movement across borders, these real and apocryphal children gave voice to silences around race and sovereignty as they converged on the body of their lionized “father,” while also opening up narrative spaces wherein the status quo could be reimagined.

In: New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids
In: New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids