Imagining Juan Placido, imagining Cuba: rethinking U.S.-Cuban relations and the transamerican geographies of abolition in J.G. Whittier's "The Black Man"
Boutelle, Russell Joseph
This thesis maps the conflation of Cuban authors Juan Francisco Manzano and Placido in John Greenleaf Whittier's The Stranger in Lowell. Through an inadvertent synthesis of the lived experiences of the two poets, the resulting syncretic figure "Juan Placido"initiates a reconsideration of mid-nineteenth century U.S.-Cuban relations. Whittier's revisions and erasures of the Cuban particulars in his cultural translation of the writers into the highly specific context of North American abolitionism ultimately offer an alternative historiographical narrative in which the development of U.S. and Cuban national identities were inextricably interwoven through their negotiation of (anti)slavery in the Americas. Furthermore, The Stranger in Lowell's deployment of well-known slave revolts across the geographies of the hemisphere relocates the island and the continent in a less hierarchical relationship, debasing the nationalist and imperialist discourses that have heretofore driven multicultural approaches to mid-nineteenth century American Studies.