February 25, 2021 12:30 PMOnline
The triumph of the Cuban Revolution gave the Communist Party a monopoly over both politics and the mass media. However, with the subsequent global proliferation of new information and communication technologies, Cuban citizens have become active participants in the worldwide digital revolution. While the Cuban internet has long been characterized by censorship, high costs, slow speeds, and limited access, since 2013, technological developments have allowed for a fundamental reconfiguration of the cultural, economic, social, and political spheres of the Revolutionary project.
Dr. Henken’s discussion will spring from his work editing and contributing to the forthcoming volume Cuba’s Digital Revolution: Citizen Innovation and State Policy (UFL Press 2021) which contains essays that outline various transformations within this new digital revolution, examining both government-enabled paid public web access as well as creative workarounds that Cubans have designed to independently produce, distribute, and access digital content. Contributors trace how media ventures, entrepreneurship, online marketing, journalism, and cultural e-zines have been developing on the island alongside global technological and geopolitical changes.
As Cuba continues to expand internet access and as citizens challenge state policies on the speed, breadth, and freedom of that access, Cuba’s Digital Revolution provides a fascinating example of the impact of technology in authoritarian states and transitional democracies. As Dr. Henken’s talk will elaborate, the streets of Cuba may still belong to Castro’s Revolution, but it is still unclear to whom Cuban cyberspace belongs.
The discussion will be introduced and moderated by Dr. I. Carolina Caballero, Associate Director, Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute.
Read a recent Op Ed by Dr. Henken in the South Florida Sun Sentinal.
About the Speaker
Dr. Ted A. Henken is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Baruch College, City University of New York (CUNY), where he holds a joint appointment in the Department of Black and Latino Studies. He earned his Ph.D. in Latin American Studies at Tulane and played an integral role in Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute programming during his time here. Dr. Henken’s research closely follows the political and socioeconomic impact of increased Internet access and social media use in Cuba since the turn of the century, as well as the social implications of economic reform and the rise of the private, “self-employed” sector on the island over the last 30 years (1990-2020). He is the author or editor of multiple books, including the forthcoming Cuba’s Digital Revolution: Citizen Innovation and State Policy (2021), with Sara Garcia Santamaria; Entrepreneurial Cuba: The Changing Policy Landscape (2015), with Archibald Ritter; Cuba in Focus (2013), with Miriam Celaya and Dimas Castellanos; and Cuba: A Global Studies Handbook (2008).