Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Lydia Mihelič Pulsipher

Committee Members

Thomas Bell, Ronald Foresta, Todd Diakon


The purpose of this dissertation is to critically examine race and gender as they intersect with tourism development in Cuba during the Special Period in a Time of Peace (Special Period), a government imposed austerity program that followed the loss of important Soviet subsidies in 1989.

I hypothesize that tourism development in Cuba during the Special Period betrays the Revolution in that it reconstitutes discriminatory practices along lines of race and gender and hence does not deliver benefits to average Cubans. Indeed, I argue that tourism as presently constructed may subvert the well being of ordinary Cubans.

I draw from Gramsci’s theory of hegemony and the wider body of theory collectively referred to as the social construction of space to frame my analysis. I posit that Cuba functions as a de facto hegemonic power and thereby challenges the notion that hegemonies are necessarily associated with capitalist regimes. I demonstrate how socially constructed discourses emerged during the Revolution that support the Marxist notion that socialism eliminates discrimination and inequality.

Throughout the course of the Cuban Revolution, the Castro regime has maintained that inequalities of race and gender have been eliminated because the “conditions” for discrimination (i.e., the capitalist modes of production) have disappeared. My data suggest that racism and sexism continue to exist in Cuba and have become more prevalent during the Special Period in a Time of Peace (1989-present).

I base the study on data derived from official and non-official sources along with field data conducted over the course of three excursions from 1995-1997. I also conduct a qualitative and quantitative analysis of Cuban tourism literature to examine representations of women and darker-skinned Cubans to test my hypothesis.

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