Following the 1959 revolution, the Cuban state nationalized media outlets on the island and has controlled them ever since. Since 2010, however, this monopoly has been threatened by the paquete (package), one terabyte of pirated digital media collected by independent Cuban entrepreneurs and circulated through informal distribution networks across the island using flash drives and hard drives. Combining archival and textual analysis with ethnographic research, this article analyzes how the legacy of state socialism gave distinctive shape to experiences and perceptions of digital media piracy. I show how the state's history of contravening international copyright provided justification for piracy and how cultural producers and consumers worked to reconcile revolutionary aspirations for socialist art with the influx of global entertainment and the rise of new forms of local cultural production, especially advertising, enabled by the paquete. In so doing, this research challenges media archaeology's Euro‐American focus and shows how alternate media histories can lead to different understandings of key questions in media studies, including the links between copyright, entertainment, and modernity.
Utopia in a Package? Digital Media Piracy and the Politics of Entertainment in Cuba
Laura-Zoë Humphreys is assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Tulane University. Her research focuses on cinema and censorship, media piracy and urban place-making, media ethnography, and post/socialism. She is the author of Fidel between the Lines: Paranoia and Ambivalence in Late Socialist Cuban Cinema. Her work has also appeared in Social Text and the International Journal of Cultural Studies.
Laura-Zoë Humphreys; Utopia in a Package? Digital Media Piracy and the Politics of Entertainment in Cuba. boundary 2 1 February 2022; 49 (1): 231–262. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-9615473
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