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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: The Closest of Enemies: Cuban-American relations 1898-2014 (PGHC11408)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will examine the relationship between Cuba and the United States from 1898 (the end of Spanish colonial rule) to 2014 (the simultaneous public announcements by Presidents Raul Castro and Barack Obama to normalise diplomatic relations).
Course description On 17 December 2014, US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced that a new era in Cuban-US relations was to begin. In their speeches they vowed that their shared troubled history no longer presented an insurmountable obstacle to the normalisation of diplomatic relations. This course will examine their relationship from 1898 (the end of Spanish colonial rule) to 2014. It will discuss how two dominant but competing narratives have shaped the interaction between these neighbours. On the one hand, US policymakers believed that they had given Cuba freedom in 1898 and the subsequent close political, economic and cultural ties were a reflection of mutual understanding and friendship. In this view, Fidel Castro was a tyrant who imposed a dictatorship. On the other, Cuban nationalists argued that US intervention in 1898 was intended to prevent a separatist victory; the subsequent Cuban Republic was a protectorate designed to serve the interests of the US. In this view, Castro's Revolution of 1959 was the fulfilment of the mutilated victory of 1898; Cuban identity and the Revolution were inseparable. This course will make extensive use of primary sources to analyse the two main phases of Cuban-US relations. The first part discusses the extent to which the US could impose its will on the Cuban Republic; in particular students will re-consider the career of Fulgencio Batista, traditionally the arch-villain of Cuban history. The second part deals with impact of the Cuban Revolution and will discuss the obstacles to rapprochement between the two states.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate in written coursework a detailed and critical command of the body of knowledge concerning some aspect of US-Cuban relations between 1898 and 2014
  2. Demonstrate in seminars an ability to analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship concerning the problematic and contested nature of US-Cuban relationships, the use of diplomatic papers as a primary source, and conceptual discussions about international relations
  3. Demonstrate [in online forum posts and seminar participation] an ability to understand and apply specialised research or professional skills, techniques and practices considered in the course
  4. Demonstrate the ability to develop and sustain original scholarly arguments in oral and written form in seminar discussions, and presentations by independently formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence considered in the course
  5. Demonstrate in seminar discussions and presentations originality and independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers; and a considerable degree of autonomy
Reading List
1. LA Perez Jr Cuba and the United States: Ties of Singular Intimacy (2003)
2. LA Perez Jr Cuba in the American Imagination (2008)
3. L Schoultz 'Blessings of Liberty: The United States and the Promotion of Democracy in Cuba' in Journal of Latin American History (May 2002)
4. L Schoultz 'U.S. Policy toward Latin America since 1959: How Exceptional Is Cuba?' in S M Castro Marino & R W Pruessen (eds), Fifty Years of Revolution: Perspectives on Cuba, the United States, and the World (2012)
5. L Schoultz That Infernal Little Cuban Republic: The United States and the Cuban Revolution (2009)
6. W M. LeoGrande & P Kornbluh Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana (2014)
7. R F Smith The United States and Cuba: Business and Diplomacy, 1917-1960 (1961)
8. M Perez-Stable The United States and Cuba: Intimate Enemies (2011)
9. W S Smith The Closest of Enemies: a Personal and Diplomatic Account of U.S.-Cuban Relations Since 1957 (1988)
10. F Argote-Freyre Fulgencio Batista: from revolutionary to strongman (2006)
11. A L Bardach Cuba Confidential: Love and Vengeance in Miami and Havana (2002)
12. M Iglesias Utset A Cultural History of Cuba During the U.S. Occupation, 1898-1902 (2011)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsClosest Enemies Cuba America
Course organiserDr Julius Ruiz
Tel: (0131 6)50 3760
Course secretaryMrs Lindsay Scott
Tel: (0131 6)50 9948
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