After Love

Queer Intimacy and Erotic Economies in Post-Soviet Cuba

After Love

Book Pages: 248 Illustrations: 11 photographs Published: April 2014

Author: Noelle M. Stout

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Gender and Sexuality > LGBTQ Studies, Latin American Studies

Focused on the intimate effects of large-scale economic transformations, After Love illuminates the ways that everyday efforts to imagine, resist, and enact market reforms shape sexual desires and subjectivities. Anthropologist Noelle M. Stout arrived in Havana in 2002 to study the widely publicized emergence of gay tolerance in Cuba but discovered that the sex trade was dominating everyday discussions among gays, lesbians, and travestis. Largely eradicated after the Revolution, sex work, including same-sex prostitution, exploded in Havana when the island was opened to foreign tourism in the early 1990s. The booming sex trade led to unprecedented encounters between Cuban gays and lesbians, and straight male sex workers and foreign tourists. As many gay Cuban men in their thirties and forties abandoned relationships with other gay men in favor of intimacies with straight male sex workers, these bonds complicated ideas about "true love" for queer Cubans at large. From openly homophobic hustlers having sex with urban gays for room and board, to lesbians disparaging sex workers but initiating relationships with foreign men for money, to gay tourists espousing communist rhetoric while handing out Calvin Klein bikini briefs, the shifting economic terrain raised fundamental questions about the boundaries between labor and love in late-socialist Cuba.


"Immersing herself in Havana’s gay culture, Stout, an American anthropologist, gives readers a street-level view of the turbulent changes under way in Cuba, as Cuban society gradually transitions from conformist socialism to a more market-oriented individualism." — Richard Feinberg, Foreign Affairs

"Well written, and informed by an impressive body of interdisciplinary scholarship...required reading for anyone interested in sexual practice and state policy on the island." — Tiffany Sippial, H-Histsex, H-Net Reviews

“As an ethnography, After Love gives a richly evidenced account of how Latin America’s  neoliberalization changes the very possibilities for economic and intimate relationships. Focusing on queer identities, Stout’s work is a welcome addition to the scholarship on neoliberalism in the region as it is able to illustrate the complex interplay through which neoliberal subjects constitute themselves through the resistance, re-imagining and embracing new forms of economic transfers through ‘love’ relationships.” — M. Gabriela Torres, European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

"Noelle Stout presents a rich ethnographic description of queer life in post-Soviet Cuba, with an emphasis on the ways in which Cuba’s large-scale changes have transformed intimacy." — Heidi Harkonen, Suomen Antropologi

"In After Love, Noelle Stout provides a refreshing take on a widely-studied topic: sex tourism and hustling in contemporary Cuba. Focusing on a handful of case studies of mostly young habaneros  trying to get by in a hostile economy and rapidly changing social and political environment, this is ethnography at its best: powerful portrayals of daily life presented in an engaging and elegant style." — Carrie Hamilton, Journal of Latin American Studies

"Stout's attention to experiences of abandonment, betrayal, and disillusionment adds to the growing scholarship on Cuban sexual identities under neoliberalism and raises important question about populations in Cuba's economies of desire who have reached the outer limits of affective exchanges." — Karina Lissette Cespedes, GLQ

After Love is a very good book, well written, sympathetic, and insightful. It wears its sophisticated theory lightly, making it both accessible and rewarding to read as much as for the picture of contemporary Cuba it paints as for the more general insights it provides into how people negotiate the contradictions life throws at them.” — Mark Graham, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"This book is a timely and important contribution to contemporary anthropological accounts of queer sexual politics in Cuba. Beyond anthropologists specializing in Cuba or the Caribbean, this book is of interest to Cuban historians, professors and students of gender studies, scholars working on the intersection of neoliberalism and desire, and those utilizing affect theory. Stout’s debut is an extremely useful contribution to interdisciplinary scholarship on contemporary Cuban sexual culture." — Lisa M. Corrigan, QED

"After Love is a must-read for anyone interested in gender, sexuality, and queer politics in the Caribbean and is
also a good read for those seeking to understand the broader socioeconomic contradictions of Cuba’s postsocialist transition. The engaging and crisp prose, rich with thick description and methodological intuitions, makes it an excellent text for assigning in undergraduate and graduate courses." — Mrinalini Tankha, American Anthropologist

“Beyond its strong contributions to scholarship on Latin America and the Caribbean, After Love is a must read for queer studies and for anyone interested in the ways in which neoliberalism, globalization, and migration impact everyday life. In addition, the book is wonderfully suited for undergraduate and graduate courses on gender, race, and political economy, as well as courses in anthropology or Latin American and Caribbean studies more generally.” — Hanna Garth, New West Indian Guide

"Lusty, warm, wide-ranging, and incisive, After Love takes us on a vivid journey through queer Havana today. It shows us how middle-class respectability, socialist rhetoric, consumer desire, and sexual elasticity both mesh and conflict with an increasingly free-for-all market economy, where sex work, foreign tourists, and the looming collapse of the socialist state have transformed life into a froth of difficulty, uncertainty, and possibility." — Don Kulick, author of Travesti: Sex, Gender, and Culture among Brazilian Transgendered Prostitutes

"Noelle M. Stout skillfully examines how love and desire intersect with socialism and capitalism in Cuba. She introduces us to men and women whose intimate choices have emotional and material costs and payoffs. This is essential reading for those interested in political ruptures and their aftereffects—in this case on individuals' economic opportunities, sexual identities, and erotic desires."
  — Denise Brennan, Georgetown University


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Price: $25.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Noelle M. Stout is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at New York University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction. Can't Be Bought or Sold? Love and Intimacy in the Aftermath of Crisis 1

1. Tolerated, Not Accepted: The Historical Context of Queer Critiques 33

2. A Normal Fag with a Job: The Complicated Desires of Urban Gays 57

3. Tell Me You Love Me: Urban Gay Men Negotiate Commodified Sex 85

4. Smarter Than You Think: Sex, Desire, and Labor Among Hustlers 111

5. Get Off the Bus: Sex Tourism, Patronage, and Queer Commodities 145

Conclusion. Love in Crisis: The Politics of Intimacy and Solidarity 171

Notes 187

Bibliography 207

Index 227
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing

Winner, 2014 Ruth Benedict Prize for Best Monograph from the Association for Queer Anthropology (AQA)

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5685-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5673-8
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