“Cuba’s Digital Revolution”: A New Book on the Impact of the Internet on the Island

The academic publishing house University of Florida Press has recently made available to its readers the volume Cuba’s Digital Revolution. Citizen Innovation and State Policy, published as part of a collection focused on culture and technology studies in Latin America and the Hispanic communities in the United States.

Edited by Cuban experts Ted A. Henken, Professor of Sociology at Baruch College of the City University of New York, and Sara García Santamaría, Professor of Journalism at Ramón Llull University in Barcelona, this book brings together 14 articles that deal, from a broad spectrum of academic knowledge, with the impact that the emergence of digital technologies has generated in Cuban society, economy, politics and culture.

In “In medias res”, the introduction to the volume, Henken explains that the arrival of the Internet on the island was a challenge to the absolute hegemony that the Cuban revolutionary regime had exercised over the media since the early 1960s. This article reviews the consequences of this change in the Cuban communications landscape for journalists, entrepreneurs, the civil society and the government. It also asks a series of questions about “the varied and often contradictory ways in which Cubans are using new communications technologies to transform Cuban society from within,” which Cuba’s Digital Revolution aims to answer:

Cover of ‘Cuba’s Digital Revolution. Citizen Innovation and State Policy’

“Who will control Cuba’s digital revolution? Who will benefit from it? What will be its scope? Who will it leave out? Will the many and varied digital developments currently taking place in Cuba mean a transformation or the demise of the Cuban Revolution?”

Thus, this book addresses the characteristics of connectivity and access to the Internet in Cuba; the role that the media have played at various times in Cuban history; the nature of the legislative forms of the current Constitution in terms of freedom of expression; the way in which the normalization of diplomatic relations with the United States affected the sphere of telecommunications; the subversive potential of digital technologies in the face of the authoritarian political order; the exploitation of connectivity deficiencies by tourist marketing; the vicissitudes, challenges and limits of digital self-employment; the significance of digital magazines to the literary field, and the representations of women in the new digital media.

To these it must be added the issue of journalism, which is treated in several essays either in approaches to specific media or the people who exercise the profession, or in the confrontation between the official press and the independent press.

Cuba’s Digital Revolution. Citizen Innovation and State Policy will soon be published in Spanish by the independent Cuban publisher Hypermedia.

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