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Overseas Chinese Organizations in a Socialist State: The Historical and Present Situation of Cuban Chinese Associations after the Cuban Revolution

Xinxin YANG (Xiamen University)
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The Cuban Revolution led to significant transformation of Cuba's social and political structure, and also greatly influenced Chinese associations in Cuba. However, under the socialist system, Chinese associations in Cuba were not completely banned, unlike some Chinese associations in European and Asian socialist countries shown in previous studies. Instead, benefiting from Cuba's relatively special socialist system, Cuban Chinese associations partially maintained some functional structures that existed before the Cuban Revolution, such as providing assistance to their members, preserving Chinese culture, and connecting their hometown and their country of residence. Furthermore, with the adjustment and "actualizer (renewal)" of the "orthodox" socialism by the Cuban government before and after the end of the cold war, the Chinese associations in Cuba not only achieved significant development and improvement in economic strength, but also gained more power and space in the local political public life. On the other hand, with the socialist political system, Cuba was isolated from the outside world for a long time, and it had a low socioeconomic development level. Under the influence of historical tradition and current political and economic structure, Cuban Chinese associations faced many problems compared with their counterparts in other regions of the world. The problems included the small number of members, high level of localization, low frequency of participating in global transnationalism activities, and vast internal differentiation of the associations. These elements together show the special path-dependence and complex fate of the Cuban Chinese associations under socialism, which made the Chinese associations in Cuba a rare and unique case among the Chinese associations across the world.

Journal of History and Anthropology