Date of Award

Spring 6-9-2024

Document Type

M.A. Essay

First Advisor

Robert Zeinstra III

Second Advisor

Ernesto Mercado-Montero


The term geotransformación, coined and theorized by Cuban geographer and revolutionary Antonio Núñez Jiménez in his 1968 book Geotransformación de Cuba, is an analytic frame which emphasizes the interconnectedness of social and natural transformation. As such, geotransformación functions as a conceptual weapon against not only theories of geographic determinism attempting to depoliticize history, but also grand historical narratives which center the human by overstating its independence from the forces of nature. Taking geotransformación as a conceptual compass for a return to the Cuban Revolution’s decisive early years, I engage in close readings of primary texts including geographic treatises, legal documents, and poetry. Drawing on key passages from Geotransformación de Cuba, I argue that agrarian reform cannot be separated from the social transformations of the revolution. Then, I theorize the plantation as an engine of underdevelopment and show how overcoming the structure of the colonial plantation formed the central task of agrarian reform. An analysis of Hurricane Flora and Cuba’s response to its devastation highlights the importance of geotransformación’s conceptual frame for understanding the interconnections between social and natural transformations in Cuba, and how these transformations relate to overcoming the long history of Cuba’s underdevelopment. I conclude by arguing geotransformación forms an important contribution to the wave of ecological thought which emerged in Marxist theory beginning the 1960s.