PhD: The Making of Havana's Property Market

Leuven, Louvain (BE)
05 Mar 2020
End of advertisement period
04 May 2020
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time


(ref. BAP-2020-163)

The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Division of Geography & Tourism at KU Leuven (Belgium) is looking for two full-time PhD candidates for 4 years. Together you will work on the research project "The Making of Havana’s Property Market", which is part of the "Real Estate/Financial Complex" (REFCOM) research group, coordinated by dr. Manuel B. Aalbers. REFCOM is an internationally comparative and transdisciplinary research group looking into the increasing interconnectedness of real estate and finance, and the role of states, politics and institutions. This particular research project is funded by Research Foundation Flanders (see


This study aims to reconstruct Cuba’s economic transition with a particular focus on the making of the property market in the country’s capital city of Havana. The emerging literature on the globalization of real estate has addressed how internationally circulating capital has increasingly found its ways into the property markets of the ‘Global South’. The restrictions of underdeveloped financial and real estate markets in these countries have been turned into frontiers in the global urbanization of capital. We propose to study market making practices that shape and reshape the Cuban property market following the regularization of private property in 2011. We focus on: 1) the emerginghomeownership and tourism property markets; 2) the transnational flow of investment, especially from Cuban expats in Miami and elsewhere in the US; and 3) how households (small entrepreneurs) use opportunities in the tourism property market. Together these processes are constitutive to Havana’s emerging property market. The practices of local entrepreneurs and the inflow of capital from Cuban expats in Miami into Havana’s (tourism) property market are an entry into understanding Cuba’s socioeconomic transition towards market socialism. As such, our study also responds to the call to develop more multipolar andcosmopolitan modes of urban theory construction in an age of globalized and financialized capitalism. The first PhD candidate will focus on homeownership whereas the second PhD candidate will focus on property tourism.


The candidate:

  • An MSc/MA level university degree in Geography, Sociology, Tourism, Urban or Development Studies or another social science (you can apply if you are planning to finish your degree by July at latest – if so, please include a one-page, realistic planning as an additional page to your cover/motivation letter);
  • Proficiency in English and Spanish is a prerequisite;
  • Affinity with qualitative and to a lesser extent quantitative research methods is necessary; experience with interviewing people is an advantage;
  • Affinity with developing countries, and good intercultural and ethical skills to work respectfully with people in the Latin Caribbean;
  • The candidate is willing to move to Belgium, but also willing to travel to other places for fieldwork (Cuba and possibly Miami) and conferences;
  • A small part (no more than 20% of your time) may be allocated to teaching or general research, teaching and management assistance tasks;
  • Candidates who are familiar with either the housing studies or tourism property literature will have an advantage, so will candidates that have finished an MSc/MA thesis in urban/economic geography or urban/economic sociology.


  • A fully funded PhD scholarship for one year, extendable to four years after positive evaluation;
  • Funding for fieldwork, workshops and conferences;
  • A dynamic research group at the forefront of urban studies with links to economic geography and tourism studies;
  • Starting date: ideally September 1, 2020 but somewhat flexible.


Please upload your CV, a cover/motivation letter of 1-2 pages including two or three references (you don’t need to provide references letters yet), proof of Spanish and English language skills (if no proof is available, please describe your competencies in the letter), and one or two writing samples (e.g. a term/course paper or a thesis chapter).

For more information, please e-mail both and

You can apply for this job no later than May 04, 2020 via the online application tool

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