Joshua Weiss

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Davis, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9363

Approve Date

October 6, 2016

Project Title

Weiss, Joshua Z, U. of California, Davis, CA, - To aid research on 'Making the Internet: Emergent Cuban Media,' supervised by Dr. Tim Choy

Preliminary abstract: Several modes of accessing the internet have recently become prevalent in Cuba – making it a compelling site for observing the means by which the medium’s meaning becomes formed, contested, and deployed. Throughout the island, locally constructed Ethernets link thousands of humans across city blocks, widespread ‘sneaker-net’ systems of ferried media are circulated via USB drives, and small crowds gather round public spaces to share limited, state-provided wifi access. These networks of technology, politics, and human actors are poised to reconfigure and forge anew senses of comunidad: how Cubans conceptualize relationships between each other, their state, and their world. These relational practices are in part developed locally through the entrenched Cuban DIY resolver engineering culture, but they also traverse other potent influences, such as legal, infrastructural, and economic flows amidst a varied range of global discourses about the medium. These are situated practices in which the emergent Cuban internet forms a complex socio-technical assemblage that is often contested in meaning, with participants engaged in negotiating varied understandings. This project asks: how is the internet being made in the contexts of a particularly Cuban making? It investigates media practices and modes of accessing the internet as situated processes through which to observe the shaping of the medium as well as knowledge regarding the medium’s significance in Cuba. In what ways do these local knowledge formations permeate or reject state and global scales of discourse surrounding technological progress while making the Cuban internet?