Semester of Graduation

Spring 2020


Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



Facing the deteriorating economic situation since the 1990s, Cuba had adopted tourism as one of the three major development programs. This thesis examines tourist-local encounters on the plaza called Parque Céspedes in Santiago de Cuba. As a microcosm of the Cuban socialist society, the plaza has provided opportunities for tourist-local encounters among social differences. Through participant observation, semi-structural and unstructured interviews, and collecting life histories of the taxi drivers, street hustlers, vendors, guest house owners, hotel workers, locals, and tourists, I try to find out how the tourist-local interactions were constructed and how social relationships were created to fulfill living goals of local Cubans. Santiago people have developed practical amistad (friendship) with tourists in dual-directional exchange in order to obtain life necessities. I defined this status as unstructured living in which people have to develop new ways of living to make ends meet. Also, the thesis discusses how la lucha (the fight, the struggle) indicated the precarity in a quasi-capitalist Cuba, how jineterismo (hustling) sustains as a barometer to indicate the economic transformation that is taking place in Santiago, and how the plaza localized tourists to conform with the social norms there.

Committee Chair

Regis, Helen



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