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Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 2.123
IKEA in Havana: from tourism to migration to tourism again
For many Cubans living in Scandinavia, tourism has profoundly shaped their lives. It is the thread that weaves together the path of their mobility. This paper explores how their position vis-à-vis tourism shifts as they move from one nation context, Cuba, to another, Denmark. Most Cubans arrive in Denmark through marriage migration. Some worked in the Cuban tourism industry, and met their Danish spouses while they were visiting the island. When these categories of mobility, tourism and migration, intersected, the power differences between them became readily apparent. Their spouse’s international movement was fluid, facilitated by the tourism industry and a European passport. Once married to a Cuban, the Danish spouse realized that mobility was now constrained by two state systems that tightly controlled migration. Where tourism erases boundaries, migration builds walls. However, once established as legal migrants in Denmark, unlike Cubans in the US, they escaped the “exile” label and could easily return to Cuba as tourists themselves. In fact, many have become tourism entrepreneurs, buying apartments to rent out on Airbnb and furnishing them with housewares from IKEA. For many Cubans, their relationship to tourism has come full circle. With permanent residency or citizenship in Europe, they can now enjoy the fluid mobility granted to tourists from the Global North. In this paper, I argue that migration and tourism are deeply connected, and I examine how the intersection of these mobilities is affected by the states’ attempt to control the temporary or permanent movement of people.