Arts and Sciences Workshop: Postsocialismo de bolsillo: Contemporary Latin American Mediascape


Thursday, February 15, 2018, 6:00pm to 8:00pm


CGIS South, S250, 1730 Cambridge Street


Speaker: Paloma Duong, Assistant Professor, Latin American Studies, MIT

Moderator: Mariano Siskind, Professor, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard University. Series co-chaired and moderated by Mariano Siskind, and Brian D. Farrell, Director, DRCLAS; Professor, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology.

If the end of the Cold War ushered a worldwide rethinking of political and cultural research agendas, how might Cuba’s own postsocialist moment, in the turn of the 21st century, address global politics as much as demand novel approaches to cultural critique? Starting from this point, I will highlight some of the critical and disciplinary stakes that engage Latin American cultural and media studies as a field today. An examination of networks of informal production and circulation of culture, emergent advertising and youth cultures, and the subsequent reorganization of the public sphere in Havana, will invite us to reconsider as well whether cultural and media scholars can continue to frame Cuba as a regional exception. We will also interrogate how revisiting our theoretical assumptions about digital media, consumption, and cultural agency, both in Cuba and in the broader hemispheric context, can reveal and leverage tensions between new media and the (postsocialist) public sphere on one hand, and between global markets and the nation-state on the other. It is no longer possible to talk about the society of the spectacle without accounting for the new forms of agency whereby “we are all turned into actors,” as Hans Magnus Enzensberger already in argued 1970. Therefore, by focusing on cultural practices that problematize our notions of connectivity, portability, and producibility, we can begin to unravel how the gig economy, the new media environment, and the crisis of the nation-state, may upend our experiences of labor and leisure, of expertise and authorship, and of power and agency in unprecedented and unpredictable ways.