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Cuban-Irish Diasporas: Gender, Race and Ethnic Whitening Strategies

Project description

Study on Irish ‘whitening’ in Cuba

Driven by racism, supporters of the “whitening” ideology believe that if a “superior” population mixes with the “inferior” Black population, this would advance the “inferior” population both culturally and genetically. It is a controversial inter-racial mating policy that attempts to “improve” certain races. Such policy was implemented in the 19th century in some parts of Latin America after slavery had been abolished. The EU-funded CID project will look at Cuba in particular to study the effect of Irish migration on the putative “whitening” strategy. It will research related inter-racial processes from the records of the Council for White Population and other Cuban archives.


This project will study gender, race, and culture in the Hispanic Caribbean from the perspective of Irish migration to Cuba in the nineteenth century. The approach is multi-disciplinary (MD) crossing history, social sciences, and digital humanities (DH). It will produce the first monograph-length study on Irish settlement in Cuba, entitled ‘Cuban-Irish Diasporas: Gender, Race and Ethnic Whitening Strategies’, accompanied by an open-access digital archive. The Fellow, with a joint migration and DH background, will carry out a cutting-edge research project on Irish migration and ‘white colonisation’ in a time of slavery in Cuba at the School of Canadian Irish Studies, Concordia University (CU) under the supervision of Professor Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin. In the return phase, the Fellow will be supervised by Professor Daniel Carey, Director of the Moore Institute, NUI Galway.
The project examines inter-related processes of Irish migration in the Atlantic World and white colonisation strategies in the expanding slave society of nineteenth-century Cuba. To explore this unfamiliar and compelling history of Irish immigrants in Cuba c. 1818-1850, the project will study the records of the Council for White Population and other previously un-researched sources in the Cuban archives. By capturing the complexities of the Irish experience the study will throw new light on the politics of gender and race in trans-cultural relationships with Cuba’s majority African diaspora and European immigrants. Based on an archival study, records of kinship, labour relations, and property will be examined to establish how Irish women and men participated in this putative whitening strategy in a region of frontier slavery in a Spanish colony. This historic approach to whiteness, class and gender has broader relevance to current global migration and integration issues and will contribute to deepening our understanding of colonial legacies of gender and race in contemporary European discourse.


Net EU contribution
€ 244 326,72
University road
H91 Galway

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Ireland Northern and Western West
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Partners (1)