7971 - Love, Interest, and Morality in Touristic Cuba

This paper takes its cue from a paradoxical situation encountered during fieldwork: a young Cuban man, eager to flee his country via the tourist connection, chose to break the promising relationship with a tourist girlfriend after she provocatively hinted at his desire to migrate. An examination of his refusal to ‘mix’ ‘love’ and ‘interest’, even when this could have helped his migratory project, complicates a clear-cut reading of his relationship as a matter of love, of interest, or of both. Rather than trying to clarify ‘once and for all’ the ‘true nature’ of such relationship, the approach advocated here focuses on the situated and purposeful nature of claims of love and/or interest, and on what these claims afford, foreclose, and ultimately achieve within different realms of the protagonists’ lives. Moving beyond the view of ‘tourists’ and ‘locals’ having distinct views on their relationships, multiplicity appears as an intrinsic quality of persons and relationships. As they respond to different moral demands and try to fulfil competing agendas and aspirations, the protagonists of ‘tourist/Cuban’ relationships blur and redraw contentious boundaries between needs and desires, work and pleasure, gifts and commodities, the economic and the affective, outlining different conceptions of agency and the self. By reviewing different approaches and moral discourses that inform how the people involved qualify these relationships, the paper provides an analytical framework that recognizes contradictions and paradoxes as significant features of their lives, and is thus able to shed new light on the coexistence of different articulations of love and interest. On a methodological level, the paper also reflects on scholars’ ethical stance when researching the intersections of intimacy and economy, cautioning against overly linear interpretations and advocating more sensitivity to the composite moralities, allegiances, and aspirations of our research participants.

Palabras claves: Love, Interest, Morality, Tourism, Cuba

Autores: Simoni, Valerio (Centre for Research in Anthropology, Lisbon University Institute, Portugal / Portugal)


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