Heterosexual Havana : Ideals and hierarchies of gender and sexuality in contemporary Cuba

Detta är en avhandling från Uppsala : Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Uppsala University

Sammanfattning: Drawing on two periods of ethnographic fieldwork in Vedado, Havana, in 2004–2007, this dissertation analyses the interconnections between gender, sexuality, and heterosexuality. With theoretical inspiration from the works of Stevi Jackson and Beverley Skeggs, it discusses how the logics underlying heterosexual relations also regulate hierarchical gendered ideals. It examines how gendered conceptions of sexuality confirm a position of heterosexual desirability, and traces a specifically heterosexual gender construction of men and women as oppositional forces, glued together in a relationship of eroticized complementarity.Moreover, the dissertation shows that the everyday negotiation of ideals around gender and sexuality is characterized by constant hierarchization. It explores how the emic concept of ‘cultural level’ is used in a process of othering to mark moral distance and create a position of superiority. It also suggests that in post-crisis Cuba, the body has become a new site on which to inscribe distinction and mark privilege, as a way of navigating in a context of new and unfamiliar differentiations.The dissertation demonstrates how female eroticism, male eroticized performances in street interaction, and the female body ideal are central sites for establishing an image of national particularity. In this historic moment, these have also become sites for marking difference and creating hierarchies. The dissertation argues that inclusive and unifying conceptions of ‘Cubanness’ are both delineated and reinforced through exclusion and the demarcation of difference within this collectivity.This notion of the nation carries gendered and sexualized inscriptions. It has been constructed through the historical exclusion of non-heterosexuality, which has been closely connected to the consolidation of a specific ideal of masculinity. The dissertation analyses the destabilizing potential of a shift in Cuban sexual politics during the last two decades and explores how this might imply a new configuration of the relationship between gender and sexuality.

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