Hope Erin Bastian

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Wheaton College, MA

Grant number

Gr. 10551

Approve Date

September 29, 2023

Project Title

Bastian, Hope (Wheaton College, MA) "Becoming a Mother: Networked Matrescence in Late-Socialist Cuba"

What is it like to become a mother amidst rapid social, economic, political and technological change? “Becoming a Mother: Networked Matrescence in Late-Socialist Cuba” is an ethnography of contemporary post-Soviet Cuban experiences of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care in state clinics and online social networks. Globally, networked technologies have significantly impacted everyday practices and processes of identity formation, creating new opportunities for social movements. Since mobile internet became available in 2018, young Cubans have used digital platforms to create mutual-aid networks to care for themselves, their families, and vulnerable neighbors endangered by collapsing state infrastructures. Today, Cuban maternity is shaped by two sets of technologies: biomedical technologies, controlled by bureaucratized state public health infrastructures and mobile technologies, through which women create alternative person-centered communities of care. In virtual communities women share evidence-based health information and challenge the authoritative knowledge of Cuba’s maternal-infant health system and structural inequalities between patients, healthcare providers, and the state. Combining digital ethnography in emerging online communities and traditional fieldwork with mothers in public clinics and other key healthcare sites, the manuscript explores identity formation and health activism among new Cuban mothers to understand the unequal effects of the re-privatization of social reproduction in Late-Socialist Cuba.