In various parts of the world, internet-based discussions have provided individuals with new means to challenge local power structures and forms of governance. In Cuba, the island’s increased integration into the global digital sphere in the context of state-controlled mainstream media, has given citizens new avenues to voice their everyday frustrations and pleasures. This presentation introduces the audience to anthropological and wider social science discussions on digitalisation with a focus on the local specificities that emerge in the case of Cuba. Drawing on my long-term ethnographic research, this talk will explore what kinds of ideas guide ordinary Cubans’ digital engagements and what do these mean for Cuba’s contemporary social and political climate. We will discuss how such ethnographic particularities relate to wider understandings of the politics of digitalisation.
Heidi Härkönen is a social anthropologist currently working as a researcher in Gender Studies at the University of Helsinki. She gained her PhD in the University of Helsinki in 2014. She has conducted ethnographic research in Cuba since 2003 and is the author of 'Kinship, Love and Lifecycle in Contemporary Havana, Cuba' (2016, Palgrave McMillan). She has been a visiting researcher at the University of Amsterdam, the University of Havana, the University of Cambridge and the City University of New York. Her current research explores the politics of digitalisation through a focus on everyday practices, understandings and values.