Cuban Literature in the Age of Black Insurrection: Manzano, Placido, and Afro-Latino Religion Matthew Pettway
Placido and Manzano envisioned emancipation through the lens of African spirituality, a transformative moment in the history of Cuban letters. Matthew Pettway examines how the portrayal of African ideas of spirit and cosmos in otherwise conventional texts recur throughout early Cuban literature and became the basis for Manzano and Placido's antislavery philosophy. The portrayal of African-Atlantic religious ideas spurned the elite rationale that literature ought to be a barometer of highbrow cultural progress.
Cuban debates about freedom and selfhood were never the exclusive domain of the white Creole elite. Pettway's emphasis on African-inspired spirituality as a source of knowledge and a means to sacred authority for black Cuban writers deepens our understanding of Manzano and Placido not as mere imitators but as aesthetic and political pioneers. As Pettway suggests, black Latin American authors did not abandon their African religious heritage to assimilate wholesale to the Catholic Church. By recognizing the wisdom of African ancestors, they procured power in the struggle for black liberation.