Cuba Studies Program: The Commodification of Culture and the Cultural Life of Commodities in the New Cuba


Friday, February 10, 2017, 12:00pm to 2:00pm


CGIS South, S-216 (Resource Room), 1730 Cambridge Street









Speaker: Paloma DuongAssistant Professor of Latin American Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Moderators: Alejandro de la Fuente, Robert Woods Bliss Professor of Latin American History and Economics, Professor of African and African American Studies and of History, and Director, Afro-Latin American Research Institute, Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University

Jorge I. Domínguez, Antonio Madero Professor for the Study of Mexico, Department of Government; Chair, Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, Harvard University

How does Cuban culture register the three defining aspects of its transformation at the turn of the 21st century: the expansion of transnational capitalist markets, the proliferation of digital media, and the simultaneous reorganization of the cultural field and of the state apparatus? Furthermore, if 1989 ushered a worldwide rethinking of political and cultural research agendas, how might Cuba’s own postsocialist moment address global politics as much as demand novel approaches to cultural and media studies? This talk will discuss forms of cultural production that refract or problematize new meanings and values around issues of media, consumption, and cultural agency in this particular conjuncture. Taking stock of how contemporary debates in cultural and media studies can shape the study of postsocialist Cuba, and vice versa, I will explore the experimental dimensions of citizenship that inhabit the everyday production of meaning taking place in culture broadly understood as a set of multi-media, multi-agent practices.
Paloma Duong is Assistant Professor of Latin American Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on the intersection of culture and politics in 20th and 21st century Latin America. She is currently writing a book on postsocialist imaginaries, new media, and participatory forms of culture in contemporary Cuba. Her second project, Amateur Theories, maps the figure of the amateur in relation to the history of media from antiquity to the present. Her work and her teaching draw from cultural studies, political philosophy, and literary and media theory to examine the aesthetic dimensions of citizenship, and the history and reception of Marxism in Latin America.