Monday, 3 October 2016

LSHG Seminar - Steve Cushion on women workers and the Cuban Revolution

London Socialist Historians Group Seminar - 

Monday 10 October, Room 304 (third floor) at 5.30pm in the Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU 

 Image result for steve cushion cuban revolution

Steve Cushion, 'A Working Class Heroine Is Also Something To Be: Where women workers fit into A Hidden History of the Cuban Revolution: How the Working Class Shaped the Guerrilla Victory'

When researching the biographical details of working class women, we are not only faced with that "enormous condescension of history" which EP Thompson criticized when writing about the history of working class movements, we also find that working class women are doubly "hidden from history" by the assumption that organised labour is male. However in Cuba in the 1950s, there were many important strikes which were initiated and sustained by women workers.

When a group of office workers from the central Cuban town of Camagüey, the principal hub of the railway network covering the eastern part of theisland, first heard of their employers' intention to impose wage cuts and redundancies, these women launched a wave of resistance by picketing the train drivers and maintenance engineers. The story of the railway women of Camagüey encourages us to look more closely into other working class struggles to seek the contributions made by women.

The paper, based on research for his recently published book, A Hidden History of the Cuban Revolution, How the Working Class Shaped the Guerrilla Victory (Monthly Review 2016), will examine the part played by working class women in the fight against the Batista dictatorship.

In addition to the women of Camagüey, we can find examples of militant activity from shop workers who started at least two town-wide general strikes and female office workers in the electrical supply industry who led demonstrations in a fight over trade union democracy. Sugar and dock workers' families organised vital solidarity action in the face of police violence, while women frequently took over picketing when their menfolk had to go into hiding to avoid being forced to return to work at gunpoint.

The paper will argue that working-class women, while only 10 percent of the Cuban workforce in the 1950s, played a part in the overthrow of the Batista dictatorship out of all proportion to their numbers.

Steve Cushion is author of:

A Hidden History of the Cuban Revolution, How the Working Class Shaped the Guerrilla Victory and
Up Down Turn Around, the Political Economy of Slavery and the Socialist Case for Reparations

as well as the forthcoming:

Killing Communists in Havana, The Start of the Cold War in Latin America

He is Secretary of Caribbean Labour Solidarity and a branch secretary of the London Retired Members Branch of the University and Colleges Union. He is a committee member of the Society for Caribbean Studies and the Socialist History Society.

 Other Upcoming Seminars
All seminars take place in Room 304 (third floor) at 5.30pm in the Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU and entry is free although donations are welcome.



Monday 24 October - Ian Birchall: Lenin’s Moscow - postponed now due to illness - apologies

Monday 7 November - Simon Hall:1956, The World in Revolt

Monday 21 November - John Boughton

(Municipal Dreams blog)

High Hopes:

Labour and the rise and fall of High Rise housing


Monday 5 December - Merilyn Moos

Breaking the Silence:

Voices of the British Children of Refugees from Nazism


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