Deciphering the Cuban transition: Epistemic challenges and political affordances

Research in Progress Seminar with Louis Thiemann
PhD student
Louis Thiemann
Thursday 27 Jan 2022, 13:00 - 14:00
Spoken Language
Online via Zoom
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Louis Thiemann

In this Research in Progress Seminar, Louis Thiemann investigates Cuba's post-socialist transition

Cuba’s post-socialist transition is unique in that, almost 30 years after the first broader market-based policies were introduced in 1993, the percentage of Cuba’s working-age population employed by a state company or agency has remained virtually unchanged.

While state companies have re-consolidated as entrepreneurial market actors and divested from unprofitable sectors, each aperture for small private businesses has been conditional, fragile and imbued with institutionalized distrust. The Communist Party’s attempt to prevent private capital (and power) formation has resulted in a post-socialist stalemate.

However, the vast majority of small private businesses in Cuba (and elsewhere) are not ‘small capitalists’ in the making, as commonly held by analysts from the left and right, but a class of independent workers, historically comprised under the term artisans. The state can assist in improving these workers’ productivity and livelihoods while at the same time restricting class differentiation and the proliferation of exploitative relations.

Such artisan-led development has characterized the more dynamic sectors of Cuba’s transition economy, and can present a ‘third way’ to the choice between an entrepreneurial state and privatization to foreign and domestic capital.

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