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Cuban Exceptionalism Revisited


  • Bert Hoffmann

    () (GIGA Institute for Ibero-American Studies)

  • Laurence Whitehead

    () (Nuffield College, Oxford University)


The end of Cuban exceptionalism has been much announced since 1989, but a decade and a half later state socialism on the island is still enduring. Transition studies have been criti-cized for focusing on success stories. Exploring the deviant case of Cuba’s “non-transition” from a comparative social science perspective can shed light on the peculiarities of this case and, more importantly, test the general assumptions underlying post-1989 expecta-tions of regime change in Cuba. Theories of path dependence and cumulative causation are particularly helpful when attempting to link Cuban current political exceptionalism with a more long-term historic perspective. Moreover, they suggest that interpretations of Cuba as simply a “belated” case of “third wave” democratization may prove erroneous, even when the health of Fidel Castro finally falters.

Suggested Citation

  • Bert Hoffmann & Laurence Whitehead, 2006. "Cuban Exceptionalism Revisited," GIGA Working Paper Series 28, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:wpaper:28

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    Cuba; comparative politics; exceptionalism; socialism; transition;

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