Numéro 13

Shifting Power

The (De)Stabilization of Asymmetries in the Realm of Tourism in Cuba

Page 89
Valerio Simoni

This article focuses on different manifestations of power in the realm of informal encounters between foreign tourists and cubans / jineteros («tourist-riders») in Cuba. The controversial notion of jineterismo, which evokes tourism-hustling and prostitution, is employed as an entry point in order to outline the main registers of power at stake in such encounters. I examine how the relational positions of jinetero/-a and tourist are constituted through discourses, texts, and other material objects such as money and passports, which contribute to the stabilization of asymmetric power relations and which thereby restrain / enable Cubans' and tourists' possibilities. the consideration of some deployments of power in the course of ambiguous encounters between tourists and Cubans / jineteros shows how people can shift and reframe their respective positions and power relations, unpack and dissect issues of domination and compliance, and transform the role and power of the tourism industry and of the Cuban authorities.