Synopses & Reviews
In parks and cafes, homes and stadium stands, Cubans talk baseball. Thomas F. Carter contends that when they are analyzing and debating plays, games, teams, and athletes, Cubans are exchanging ideas not just about baseball but also about Cuba and cubanidad
, or what it means to be Cuban. The Quality of Home Runs
is Carterandrsquo;s lively ethnographic exploration of the interconnections between baseball and Cuban identity. Suggesting that baseball is in many ways an apt metaphor for cubanidad, Carter points out aspects of the sport that resonate with Cuban social and political life: the perpetual tension between risk and security, the interplay between individual style and collective regulation, and the risky journeys undertaken with the intention, but not the guarantee, of returning home.
As an avid baseball fan, Carter draws on his experiences listening to and participating in discussions of baseball in Cuba (particularly in Havana) and among Cubans living abroad to describe how baseball provides the ground for negotiations of national, masculine, and class identities wherever Cubans gather. He considers the elaborate spectacle of Cuban baseball as well as the relationship between the socialist state and the enormously popular sport. Carter provides a detailed history of baseball in Cuba, analyzing players, policies, rivalries, and fans, and he describes how the sport has forged connections (or reinforced divisions) between Cuba and other nations. Drawing on insights from cultural studies, political theory, and anthropology, he maintains that sport and other forms of play should be taken seriously as crucibles of social and cultural experience.
andldquo;The Quality of Home Runs offers engaging and provocative perspectives on socialism, nationalism, masculinity, and the embodiment and poetics of sport in Cuba, all seen from the vantage point of the stadium stands and the streets of Havana. Thomas F. Carterandrsquo;s emphasis on themes such as spectacle, social drama, struggle, and discipline of both players and fans, on and off the field, builds a persuasive analysis of changing notions of what it means to be Cuban.andrdquo;andmdash;Thomas M. Wilson, Binghamton University
Uses the sport of baseball, about which most Cubans are passionate, to look at what it means to be Cuban and at how Cuba deals with the outside world, as well as to compare various disciplinary approaches to the sport.
About the Author
Thomas F. Carter, an anthropologist, is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Brighton, Chelsea School.
Table of Contents
Preface: Entering the Field vii
Introduction. The Theoretical andquot;Stretching:andquot; of Sport and the State 1
1. Baseball and the Language of Contention 17
2. Circling the Base Paths: Baseball, Migration, and the Cuban Nation 36
3. The Spectacle of and for Cuba 63
4. The State in Play: The Politics of Cuba's National Sport 89
5. Fans, Rivalries, and the Play of Cuba 111
6. Talking a Good Game 136
7. The Qualities of Cubanidad: Calidad and Lucha in Baseball 159
Conclusion: Touching 'Em All: Recalling and Recounting Home Runs 183
Works Cited 213