¡Hasta la utopía siempre! : conflicting utopian ideologies in Havana’s late socialist housing market
Genova, Jared Michael
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Through the broader contextualization of ethnographic fieldwork in Havana’s newly reformed housing market, this study theorizes the Cuban late socialist condition through a lens of utopian ideological conflict. A popular narrative of free market utopia has emerged in the face of the state’s recalcitrant ideology of state socialism. The popular narrative is reproduced through growth in the informal economy, while the socialist utopian narrative is maintained by the ubiquity of its bureaucratic apparatus. Inspired by postmodern theorist Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation (1994), this thesis theorizes the Cuban state narrative as an ideological simulation, supported only through its strongest simulacrum – the government bureaucracy. Previous work on Cuba has cited the importance of access to government-purchased goods to fuel the informal economy and individual wealth accumulation. This study highlights the reproduction of a narrative of free market utopia in the desire for access to transactions as intermediaries, particularly as the deals increase in hard currency value. The passage of Decreto-Ley Number 288, which authorized the buying and selling of homes has served to rapidly capitalize the market and encourage further development of an informal network of brokers. Greater economic hybridization in the housing sector, among others, is gradually eroding the totalizing nature of the state’s socialist utopia.