Following the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, Cuba experienced an acute economic crisis in the 1990s known as the “Special Period”. This crisis challenged not only the state’s ability to provide for Cubans’ material needs, but also the moral vision of creating a “New Human” within the Revolution’s political framework. During the Special Period, a variety of new religious and civil society movements emerged to meet both the material and spiritual needs of Cubans. Permaculture, a holistic design system that arrived from Australia in 1993, promotes more harmonious relationships between human beings and nature through a set of three ethical principles: (1) Care for the Earth; (2) Care for People; and (3) Sharing Resources. Within the Cuban context, the growing permaculture movement is part of a larger set of religious and civil society revivals since the fall of the Soviet Bloc. Using qualitative fieldwork, this paper argues that permaculture is functioning as a religious-like movement in Cuba because it provides both spiritual and material benefits to individuals through networks of mutual aid and social solidarity. The permaculture movement also provides flexibility for individual perspectives about nature as sacred and having intrinsic value apart from usefulness to humans.
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