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Keywords:

  • Cuba;
  • tourism;
  • racial constructions;
  • national identity;
  • culture commodification

This article analyzes the ways contemporary understandings of skin color and foreign-ness in touristic interactions challenge revolutionary conceptualizations of what it means to be Cuban. In particular, the essay explores the tensions and contradictions of post-Soviet era Cuba's use of tourism, a fundamentally capitalist tool, to sustain its socialist economy. In light of the revolution's humanist and egalitarian objectives, the paper theorizes the emergent commodification of raced, gendered, and sexualized Cuban bodies as well as the deepening of class cleavages that have been exacerbated by the legalization of the U.S. dollar. Moreover, it analyzes the new and complicated ways race and racialization have become means to gloss emergent status hierarchies in contemporary Cuba.