Marial Iglesias Utset

Marial Iglesias Utset

Visiting Research Scholar at the Afro-Latin American Research Institute
Working Group on Comparative Slavery Leader


Marial Iglesias Utset was Professor of Philosophy and History at the University of Havana for 25 years. She earned her Ph.D. in Historical Sciences at the University of Havana and her M. Phil. and her B.A. at Moscow State University. Her research fields include Culture and Race in Cuba, Atlantic Slavery, and African Diaspora Studies.

Her book Las metáforas del cambio en la vida cotidiana, a history of everyday life in Cuba during the US military occupation (1898-1902), has received several prizes, including the Clarence H. Haring Prize, which is a quinquennial prize awarded by the American Historical Association to the Latin American author who has published the most outstanding book on Latin American history during the previous five years.  The book has been recently translated into English and published by the University of North Carolina Press under the title A Cultural History of Cuba during the US Occupation, 1898-1902. She has recently been a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan and a Long-term Research Fellow at the John Carter Brown Library.

Project Description

A Creole Family and Its Slaves in Saint-Domingue and Cuba: A Narrative of a Trans-Atlantic Experience

A family of French planters in Jérémie, in southern Saint-Domingue, whose world falls apart due to the revolution in Haiti, recreates the economy (material and moral) of the coffee plantation in Cuba. The lives of the Despaignes, both masters and slaves, descendants of Europeans and the offspring of Africans, were tied for three generations to a piece of land in the mountains of el Cobre, near Santiago de Cuba, whose exploitation resulted in a bonanza for the white owners and in physical violence and dehumanization for its victims. Half a century later, the outbreak of the Cuban wars of independence from Spain emancipated the numerous slaves from the plantation. Their citizen status, in the Cuban Republic of the twentieth century, was put to the test as the 1912 uprising of the Independent Party of Color traumatically brought back the memory of Haiti to Cuba.