Laura-Zoe Humphreys

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Tulane U.

Grant number

Gr. 9949

Approve Date

October 24, 2019

Project Title

Humphreys, Laura-Zoe (Tulane U.) "Pushing Culture: Digital Media Piracy and the Politics of Entertainment in Cuba"

Following the triumph of the Revolution in 1959, the Cuban state nationalized all major media outlets on the island and has controlled them ever since. Since 2010, however, this state monopoly has been threatened by what is known as the paquete semanal or the weekly package: one terabyte of pirated digital media collected by independent Cuban entrepreneurs and circulated through informal distribution networks across the island on a weekly basis using flash drives and hard drives. Foreign reporters and Cuban intellectuals alike have praised the paquete for circumventing state censorship and the island’s limited Internet connectivity to access the latest in world entertainment and information. But the paquete has also raised concerns on the island about what kind of modernity is being ushered in by digital media piracy. This ethnographic study will track the distribution and reception of the paquete itself and the media genres whose circulation it has facilitated. In so doing, it will shed light on how Cuban citizens and cultural producers are mobilizing digital media piracy and transnational media genres to reimagine social life and modernity in the midst of intensified economic and political reform and contested diplomatic relations with the United States.