Title

AMERICA’S FIDEL: FIDEL CASTRO AND U.S. CULTURE, POLITICS, AND FOREIGN POLICY 1959-2016

Date of Award

Summer 2022

Project Type

Dissertation

Program or Major

History

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Kurk Dorsey

Second Advisor

Julia Rodriguez

Third Advisor

Marion Dorsey

Abstract

“America’s Fidel: Fidel Castro and U.S. Culture, Politics, and Foreign Policy 1959-2016” examines U.S. cultural and public images of Castro—how he was portrayed, interpreted, and defined by diverse groups of Americans over the course of five decades. Castro’s public persona in the United States was the hybrid creation of American journalists, the U.S. State Department, Cuban exiles, intellectuals, writers, U.S. politicians, celebrities, former Castro insiders, and American civil rights activists. Almost all framed Castro in his relation to the United States, transforming him into a commentary on U.S. foreign policy and political culture. A blood thirsty dictator, a revolutionary hero, an incompetent elder statesman, an imperfect but dedicated progressive reformer—U.S. interpretations of Castro were shaped by political, social, and racial biases within the United States itself. This dissertation argues Castro, an unflagging critic of U.S. hegemony, reflected how the U.S. internalized opposition to its predominance in the Cold War. Castro became the nexus of a discourse on 20th and 21st century U.S. foreign policy in which American intellectuals, politicians, journalists, and Castro himself took part. The relationship between Castro and the U.S., revealed in these public and cultural images, demonstrates the continually evolving interrelationship that exists between U.S. foreign policy and American political culture.

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