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The Transformative Dynamics of Self-Employed Dance Instruction in Havana, Cuba’s Tourism Industry

Anthropological Enquiries into Policy, Debt, Business, and Capitalism

ISBN: 978-1-83909-659-4, eISBN: 978-1-83909-658-7

ISSN: 0190-1281

Publication date: 9 June 2020

Abstract

This ethnographic study explores how local and global forces influence a unique set of self-employed people in Havana’s tourism industry – dance instructors – and how these circumstances drive the strategies and rationalities they use to navigate socioeconomic transformations. Cuba’s recent history of economic crises, the decline in welfare assistance, and an array of market-driven economic reforms have driven many Cubans to search for incomes in Havana’s lucrative tourism industry. Global circulations of people, wealth, and ideas shape the opportunities Cubans find in this type of work. Furthermore, strict state policies and regulations, in conjunction with underlying systems of oppression, hinder and constrain Cubans who work in tourism-based ventures. Building on theories of neoliberalism and tourism, we discuss how Cuban dance instructors develop professional skills, standardize their activities, and address global consumer desires/demands while simultaneously drawing from collectivized social norms cultivated under Cuban socialism. These hybridized formal/informal business tactics reveal how self-employed Cubans are positioned between socialist configurations and the capital-driven tourism industry. These innovative socioeconomic logics are also critical in understanding how people living in centrally planned economies, some of which are socially marginalized because of patterns of inequality, gain access to and participate with contemporary modalities of the global economy.

Keywords

Citation

Stein, M. and Vertovec, J. (2020), "The Transformative Dynamics of Self-Employed Dance Instruction in Havana, Cuba’s Tourism Industry", Wood, D.C. (Ed.) Anthropological Enquiries into Policy, Debt, Business, and Capitalism (Research in Economic Anthropology, Vol. 40), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 169-190. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0190-128120200000040011

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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