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On Baseball and Moral Authority in Cuba. A PhD Dissertation by Ben Eastman.

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Dissertation Defense of Benjamin Harris Eastman

“Baseball, Moral Authority and Political Transformation in Contemporary Cuban Socialism”

TUESDAY, Febrary 23, 2010 at 10:30 a.m. in Haskell 101

The Dissertation has been approved for hearing by the following members of the advisory committee who are: John D. Kelly (Chair). Raymond D. Fogelson. Stephan Palmie. John MacAloon

Amidst the deprivations and disappointments of the so-called Período Especial en Tiempo de Paz [Special Period in Peacetime], baseball in Cuba has remained a vital site for demonstrating concern for the values and meanings of Cuban socialism. It might seem in this context that baseball would indeed be a distraction from the more serious business of day-to-day survival among the ruins of a once formidable “cradle to grave” social welfare system. Yet, in the routinization of crisis that has marked the now 19 years since the “special period” was initially declared, this dissertation argues that the playing, spectating, and commodifying of baseball
in Cuba offers keys to understanding not only how oblivion has been averted but how new meanings have emerged to sustain Cuban social and political structures and to provide coherence, however contingent, however fleeting, to Cuban experiences of these crises.
Through an ethnographic as well as theoretical focus on games, on the categories of risk and contingency upon which they hinge, I consider the “enigmas of continuity and change” (Kelly 2005: 1015) in contemporary Cuban socialism as not exclusively matters of coercive force or economic prosperity (Kornai 1980, cf. Verdery 1996, Burawoy and Verdery 1999) by highlighting the ways in which structures are never total but always historical, and power emerges in the specific ways in which risks are taken and the results managed in collective efforts, both official and popular, to make sense of as well as inhabit a post-Soviet world.

* Ben Eastman previously published “Rejected America: Adolfo Luque, American interventionism and Cubanidad,” in the  International Journal of the History of Sport, vol 22 (6), Nov. 2005, pp. 1136-1172.

2 Responses to “On Baseball and Moral Authority in Cuba. A PhD Dissertation by Ben Eastman.”

  1. PRyer Says:

    Just heard that Ben’s defense went very well. Congratulations to Dr. Eastman!

  2. monitoring Says:

    Eastman’s previously published paper on Rejected America is good in my opinion.

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