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Alexis Baldacci

Department of History
2017-2018 Rothman Doctoral Fellow

Alexis Baldacci, doctoral candidate in History, used her 2017-2018 Rothman Doctoral Fellowship to consult literature and complete the writing of two chapters of her dissertation on consumerism and everyday life in revolutionary Cuba. Baldacci explores how state policies surrounding production, consumption, and mass consumerism have impacted ideas about the relationship between state and citizen, popular conceptions of the revolution’s legitimacy and longevity, and gender relations in individual households and wider society.

Baldacci argues that scarcity has been a primary avenue by which Cubans have experienced the revolution on a daily and intimate level. Cubans often discuss the revolutionary period as an era of failure in the food and consumer economies, even as employment and welfare policies were improving the standard of living for many Cubans. Baldacci focuses on everyday life to explore a more nuanced understanding of the Cuban revolution. She illustrates how Cubans constructed and maintained consumer and service economies while balancing appropriate and extravagant consumption.

Baldacci’s work has important ramifications for understanding the nature of power and authority in revolutionary Cuba, the longevity and legitimacy of the Castro regime, and conceptions of the role of the state in managing consumption and the economy. Her work reveals that material culture was an important tool through which Cubans challenged state notions of what constitutes a revolutionary society.