Based on a twelve-year ethnographic study in Havana and rural areas, this book examines the current crisis of eldercare in Cuba, underpinned by advanced demographic aging. With great humanity and a lively narrative, Destremau-Zeitz shows how intergenerational households enact interdependency and solidarity in response to the many complexities of daily life and a protracted economic crisis. Beyond the multidimensional crisis of care, the author argues that Cuba is facing a crisis of social reproduction that appears specific to (ex)socialist countries but holds lessons for many of the world’s developed nations as well.
Blandine Destremau-Zeitz is Director of Research at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).
Chapter 1 Living and Cohabitating: Practical Interdependence
Chapter 2 Generations and Revolution: “Here, There Is No Life”
Chapter 3 Consumption and Deprivation: Time and Money
Chapter 4 The Elderly’s Care Work: Overburdened Grandparents
Chapter 5 Aging Well: The Political Ethics of Self-Care on Trial
Chapter 6 Aging in the Family: From Love to Exhaustion
Chapter 7 Who’s Going to Take Care of Me? The Anguish of Aging Alone
This thought-provoking ethnographic study paints a vivid picture of the 'crisis of care' affecting the elderly in central Havana through a detailed portrayal of lived realities under contemporary Cuba's aging and faltering socialist experiment. These personal accounts are embedded in an overall analysis covering ethnic and gender inequalities, inter-generational divides, and international migratory pressures, and will be of interest to scholars of Caribbean elder care.
This ethnography, which is based on the experiences of a large extended family, provides a unique view into Cuba’s elder care crisis. Although the Revolution was supposed to liberate women from domestic labor to allow them to foster their careers and further revolutionary change, the author shows how traditional patriarchy, international economic sanctions, a lack of political will, and more have trapped women in their traditional roles and undermined the needed socialization of eldercare. Perhaps younger generations may foster change, but Destremau-Zietz’s analysis clearly tempers that hope.
Blandine Destremau-Zeitz’s landmark study stands out as the single best read on one of Cuba’s biggest, yet least discussed social problems: the care crisis of a rapidly aging society. This lens allows for a unique analysis of contemporary Cuba as a society where socialist legacies and new market mechanisms intersect—and how this challenges our understanding of social welfare and generational relations in both socialist and capitalist societies.