For our final lecture of the year, we heard from the post-doctoral fellow in the Sociology Department, Marcos Perez. His talk largely focused on what it means to be revolutionary and discussed all of the possible meanings of the word revolutionary. Prior to this, most of the lectures that we heard this past semester were focused on one revolution or simply one sect of revolutions. I greatly appreciated Perez’s discussion to end the semester because, to me, it seemed as though he provided a broader perspective with which to think about revolutions.
Part of what I thought made Perez’s lecture so successful was the way in which he organized his thoughts. First, he reminded everyone about the definition of a social revolution before he got more granular and at the end was providing specific examples of revolutions. He stated that a social revolution is defined as a profound transformation in the way society is organized and ruled that creates change throughout history. By the end of his talk, he was citing the Cuban Revolution as one example of a Revolution.
After listening to Marcos Perez’s talk, I would say that I must agree with his points. As someone who spent significant time studying abroad in Cuba, I saw the effects of a revolution firsthand. Given Marcos Perez’s definition of a revolution, I must agree that the Cuban Revolution was indeed a revolution. Prior to Fidel Castro imposing a communist government, Cuba was under the rule of Fulgencio Batista- a corrupt dictator. Oftentimes, the Cuban government in the 1940s had the best interests of the American people at heart and not so much of the Cuban people. In this sense, the change from Fulgencio Batista to the communist government suggested by Castro was truly a drastic change.
This is quite different to what Keith Peterson lectured about in his lecture the week prior. In his talk, he claimed that We Have Never Been Revolutionary. As evidenced by the Cuban Revolution profoundly changing the way in which the Cuban society functioned.
Furthermore, Perez ended his talk with two ideas. First, that revolutions are crucial and second, that revolutions are nebulous. As someone who spent time in Cuba, I will agree that the Cuban revolution was crucial, but I do not agree that the Cuban Revolution was nebulous. The Cuban Revolution was a very concrete thing whose effects are still being felt today.
Writing this final reflection has made me realize truly how varied the lectures were that comprised this course. Using revolutions as a vehicle, we’ve seen the varied views that exist on one topic. In some regards, this course has been a very good representation of Colby- a place where lots of different views are offered on a subject and each is respected for its merit.