Opportunity and Inequality in a Changing Economy: Navigating the Emerging Real Estate Market in Havana, Cuba

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 15:50
Oral Presentation
Martina KUNOVIC, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
As part of a broader package of state-led, market-oriented reforms aimed at improving the Cuban economy, the Government of Cuba legalized the free-market purchase and sale of homes in November 2011. As a result, a half-century after having banned home sales in Cuba and having declared that housing was to serve a “social” function, a residential real estate market is once again emerging—and with it, transforming the urban and social landscape of the island, creating “landscapes of inequality”. In this paper, I examine how Cubans in Havana are navigating this “opening,” and how they get sorted into winners and losers in the process. In so doing, I highlight the uneven social and economic impacts of the much-celebrated opening of the real estate market in Cuba. I go further by interrogating the ways in which the emerging landscape of inequality in Havana is structured by and exacerbates historical inequalities among the population but also serves as the foundation for new axes of inequality.