Middle-class Cubans in the nineteenth century had developed the capacity to admire themselves, a self-assurance inscribed in the very ethos by which an emerging social class advanced its claim to ascendancy. These developments implied a heightened confidence in the authority to act in common in the pursuit of collective interests: developments occurring at a time when the propriety of Cuban was gaining currency as a matter of cultural displacement and moral deportment, when pretensions to being a separate people were enacted through multiple forms of social differentiation. Successive generations of Cubans had crossed into new realms of self-awareness, in part political, to be sure, but also moral and cultural, reaching deeply into those interior spaces where a people accept as a matter of a shared conviction the need to exert their claim to agency and exercise the prerogative of choice as a way to situate themselves as subjects of history in narratives of their own making. The habit of volition had taken hold as a facet of far-reaching cultural shifts, a deepening consciousness of the authority of agency within an emerging moral system formed to accommodate the cosmology of Cuban....
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