From Cuba With Blogs

Clive McGoun (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)

In resisting the hegemony of an authoritarian state, Cuban writers have often turned to enigmatic, cryptic, or arcane forms to clothe censorious commentary of internal politics and policies and test the limits of expressive freedom on the island. In its turn, the Cuban government has been adept at dealing with potentially subversive communication and maintaining tight control over information production and consumption. It has done so in a period characterised by the state’s monopoly over that production and consumption. With the emergence of weblogs or blogs (variously understood as alternative citizens’ journalism, participatory publishing for activists/artists, virtual soap-boxes for commentary and/or opinionating, and message boards for family and friends), the dichotomies that have characterised and sustained the Cuban mediascape over many years are being challenged. Public and private space, mainstream state-run media and alternative/independent media, periodista and citizen activist, on the island and off the island: these are some of the binary oppositions that are being disturbed by the collective communities where blogs interconnect. This paper examines those disturbances through the writings of a community coalescing around the work of Yoani Sanchez and the collective Desde Cuba. In particular it explores how that community has emerged from its specific social, political and cultural context; the extent to which it can be understood as a form of citizen or civic journalism; how it manages its alterity; and its role in forging a new space for democratic citizenship.

Timing - Friday - Panel Session B1
Download Full Paper - Clive McGoun.doc



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