Steffen Köhn

Grant Type

Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Freie U.

Grant number

Gr. 9888

Approve Date

October 9, 2019

Project Title

Kohn, Steffen (Free U. of Berline), "After Access: Emergent Digital Culture and its Social Impacts in Post-Castro Cuba"

Cuba has one of the lowest internet penetration rates in the world, with access restricted by government policies that banned all independent private media. Yet under the growing influence of Miguel D’az-Canel, the new Cuban president who advocates increased connectivity, the state has begun to provide its citizens with more unrestricted access. Since March 2015, public spaces in Havana have been equipped with hundreds of WiFi hotspots, quickly transforming these places into sites where crowds gather day and night to try online activities. After Access follows a group of millennials who constitute the first generation of Cuban YouTubers. Dina, Jhans, and Adriano have clear opinions about social and political issues. Jhans runs the country’s first video blog about LGBTIQ rights. Adriano harnesses online video to deliver stand-up comedy with biting commentary about the harshness of everyday life in Cuba. Dina previously made make-up tutorials yet since a sexual assault that she herself experienced now dedicates her channel to women’s rights issues. Expressing themselves through digital media, they both experience and participate in Cuba’s current transformation. After Access will explore how Cuba’s new ‘digital natives’ balance the global capitalist imperatives of hedonism, consumption and self-realization, the state’s hesitant steps towards a gradual diversification of the public sphere, as well as the still powerful socialist and solidarity ideals of their parents’ generation.