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Racial Experiments in Cuban Literature and Ethnography$
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Emily A. Maguire

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780813037479

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813037479.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Gender, Genre, and Ethnographic Authority:

Gender, Genre, and Ethnographic Authority:

Lydia Cabrera and Zora Neale Hurston

(p.143) 4 Gender, Genre, and Ethnographic Authority:
Racial Experiments in Cuban Literature and Ethnography

Lydia Cabrera

Zora Neale Hurston

University Press of Florida

This chapter interrogates the nature of ethnographic authority in Lydia Cabrera's El Monte and African American writer Zora Neale Hurston's Mules and Men. It shows how these two writers modify the construction of the ethnographic narrative voice to navigate racial and gender differences and to interweave ethnographic, autobiographical, and fictional narratives. By comparing how Cabrera and Hurston position themselves within the text, the chapter emphasizes the importance of gender in Cuban writing and the uniqueness of the Cuban situation with regard to race, even in the context of a broader, transnational experimentation with genre conventions. Hurston and Cabrera use an awareness of both the freedoms and limitations of their position as women to make their work open to more subversive readings. Their experiments with the formal elements of ethnography allow them to highlight the limits of ethnography as a discourse for negotiating otherness within the space of the nation.

Keywords:   Lydia Cabrera, Zora Neale Hurston, Mules and Men, El Monte, race, ethnographic authority, gender

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