Entangled Revolutions: Cuba, Nicaragua, and the United States in the Cold War Caribbean, 1979-1990

Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Joseph, Gilbert


“Entangled Revolutions” examines Cuba and Nicaragua’s revolutionary relationship with a sustained lens on institutions, ideology, gender, and local and international frames. My analysis first demonstrates how each revolution’s relationship with the other demanded, and produced, profound domestic and international effects. Nicaragua relied on Cuba for material support and technical expertise; Cuba looked to Nicaragua as a source of revolutionary radicalization. The United States crafted public diplomacy campaigns alongside the Contra insurgency in Nicaragua as it attempted to prevent “another Cuba.” Second, Cuban and Nicaraguan experiences of collaboration were heavily gendered. Though both revolutionary states sought to impose gendered logics on collaboration’s contours, women, men, and youth crafted their own meanings of love, family, and internationalist solidarity. Third, I establish how Cuban involvement in Nicaragua provoked religious backlash that the Indigenous Miskitu people on Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast and the Reagan government leveraged to advance their political goals through counterrevolutions. This dissertation transnationalizes the Latin American Cold War by examining grassroots experiences of revolution and counterrevolution. It considers United States foreign policy in a hemispheric frame, even as it foregrounds a South-South dialogue. I find many revolutionary processes and points of view while taking conservatism and anti-Communism seriously alongside revolutionary ideology. Moreover, this project offers insight into theory and praxis about the Cuban revolutionary family—a historical question obscured in available archives. I root the international processes of collaboration in institutions, places, and everyday people, thereby presenting new histories of the Cuban and Nicaraguan revolutions “from within.” Finally, this dissertation considers discourses of racial, gender, and sexual difference within the larger story of revolutionary collaboration.

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