“Lo Que Predicábamos No E[ra] Americanismo”: Protestantism and Cross-Cultural Religious Encounter in the Shadow of Empire, A Twentieth Century Cuban Case
“Lo Que Predicábamos No E[ra] Americanismo”
This dissertation investigates the historiography of North American Protestant Missions to Cuba at the turn of the twentieth century. Following the end of the Spanish-American War, and simultaneously with the first US Military Intervention of Cuba, no fewer than twenty Protestant Mission Boards arrived in Cuba to establish mission fields. This dissertation investigates the Americanization thesis that prevails in the existing historiography which interprets these mission efforts as part of a broader campaign to “Americanize” Cuba. Using previously un- and underexamined Cuban archival documents, this dissertation makes a scholarly intervention by focusing on the role that Cuban Protestants played in the religious encounter.
The chronological period of my work spans roughly from 1880 to 1959, and I focus my investigation on Baptists in Eastern Cuba, the Convención Bautista de Cuba Oriental (CBCOr). This group of Baptists in Cuba are the result of the missionary effort of the American Baptist Home Mission Society, beginning from about 1899 and lasting until 1958. Utilizing a variety of theoretical tools and interpretive frameworks, the argument presented herein is two-fold. First, this investigation begins by analyzing the state of the existing historiography to interrogate the Americanization thesis as limiting the possibilities for robust analysis of this religious encounter and recasting the asymmetry of the relationship between US Protestant Missionaries and Cuban Protestants. I further discuss the archival limitations and academic siloes that exist between researchers working in North American and Cuban academic circles. Second, having had access to the archives of the CBCOr (and other Protestants) in Cuba, I examine un- and underexamined documents of Cuban Protestants and propose an alternate reading in order to identify their role, or agency, in the religious encounter. This study demonstrates that, at the turn of the twentieth century, as well as in the decades that followed, Cuban Protestants exercised agency while negotiating the unique asymmetries of power that characterized the relationship between themselves and North American Protestant missionaries.
Carlos Cardoza Orlandi
Reinerio Arce Valentín
History, Humanities, Religion, Theology/Religious Education
Number of Pages
Vargas, Grace, "“Lo Que Predicábamos No E[ra] Americanismo”: Protestantism and Cross-Cultural Religious Encounter in the Shadow of Empire, A Twentieth Century Cuban Case" (2020). Religious Studies Theses and Dissertations. 23.
Available for download on Wednesday, December 10, 2025
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Cuban Protestantism; Protestantism in Cuba; American Baptist Missions;protestantismo cubano; protestantismo en Cuba; Protestant missions