Christopher James Daley

Anthropology

Award Information

2017 IDRF Program

AnthropologyDuke University

Playing the State: Cuban Baseball and Socialist Subjectivity in a Time of Change

This project examines the Cuban baseball academy to understand the lives of Cuban youth. Specifically, I focus on how the Cuban state seeks to shape young bodies by instilling socialist sentiments through training and competition to create what I call citizen-players. After the Cuban Revolution, the government established a state-run system of amateur academies across the island. While scholarship has often focused on socialist sports as an attempt to gain international credibility, this project draws on literature on governmentality and affect, political subjectivity, alongside recent literature on sport to understand how the Cuban government has sought to use baseball to channel young Cubans into specific lines of movement within the state’s purview. Through archival research on the baseball academy, I will analyze the movement of players' bodies at multiple scales including: the technical movements of the body learned in drills, the rhythm of repetition between education and training, and circulation inside and outside out of the academy to understand how ethical sentiments around teamwork and sacrifice emerge through interactions with state actors like coaches and doctors. I will explore how players navigate a range of expectations placed on them as baseball becomes an explicit site of negotiation between Cuba and the U.S. Finally, I will consider how the players' experience in the academy generate possibilities within and beyond those envisioned by the state.