Resolver, Innovation, and the Internet in Havana
Building on my dissertation research, I am exploring local innovations of communities in Havana, Cuba. I am investigating the cyberculture that has emerged in Havana through the cultural ethos of resolver: the way that people collaboratively invent and make do through times of constraint. Through ethnographic methods, this research focuses on the ways that people cope with constraints (i.e. limited internet access, political constraints, limited resources) as well as stressors (life changes and mental health) and the practices that evolve in response to these conditions. If you’re interested in participating or learning more, please email resolviendoencuba [at] umich.edu
Infrastructural Action as Care in the Venezuelan Humanitarian Crisis
This research explores the ways Venezuelans living in the U.S. confront the ongoing humanitarian crisis in their country of origin and the ways their efforts require the use of social media platforms. I describe these efforts as infrastructural action as care, focusing on the ongoing, performative tasks participants undertake across time and distance as they cope with a protracted crisis. Through infrastructural action, participants move across and within various sociotechnical infrastructures in order to deal with persistent and regular breakdowns that their friends and family in Venezuela are facing. This work explores crisis and response through a quotidian lens asking, what happens when crisis and the work to confront it become banal? This work aims to contribute to our understandings of the ways people cope with a prolonged, humanitarian crisis and how social media platforms fit in with the wider ecology of efforts.
Internet and Social Media Use in Cuba
I am conducting a longitudinal study that explores how increased access to the WWW interacts with culture, relationships, and local innovations in Cuba.
Past Research and Projects:
Based on fieldwork and qualitative research conducted throughout 2014-2018, my dissertation provides an empirical study of how increasing access to the WWW interoperates with locally-configured information networks to form a “Cuban Internet.’’ Against the backdrop of international media narratives that frame Cuba as an “isolated” country, I investigate the emergence of grassroots information networks for knowledge-sharing through content sold on USB thumb drives (“El Paquete”) and an intranet custom-designed by citizens (“StreetNet”). I also explore the introduction of government-sponsored WWW access initiatives through select workplaces and public WiFi hotspots. In Havana, the imagined potentials of the WWW collide with the realities of scarcity and barriers to access, as people collaboratively configure an Internet sustained by a human infrastructure. Incorporating the Cuban ethos of resolver (creative problem-solving amidst scarcity), I uncover the collective enterprises and negotiations that go towards the production of the Internet in Havana, thereby challenging established notions of what an (or the) Internet “should” look like in more and less connected contexts. Read more.
Based on ethnographic research findings, and using an iterative design process, I designed a low-fidelity, crowdsourced information retrieval system to help meet the information needs of people living in Cuba using a combination of Facebook Groups, Email, and SMS.
Access to Learning Resources in Lower SES Communities
I worked with Professor Betsy DiSalvo and PhD student Parisa Khanipour in the Culture and Technology Lab at Georgia Tech. Our research explored technology use among parents in financially depressed communities and how interaction with technology affects their children’s education. I assisted in conducting interviews with participants, gathering and coding data, and analyzing results. Our initial findings are summarized in the paper, “Exploring How Parents in Economically Depressed Communities Access Learning Resources,” which was published at Group 2014.
I assisted Jill Dimond on an aspect of her dissertation research with Hollaback!, a social movement organization that uses technology in order to bring awareness to and stop street harassment. I conducted ethnographic research with users of Hollaback! to discover how new communication technologies support social movements. Using Emancipatory Action Research and qualitative methods, we found that sharing stories of harassment online shifted participants’ cognitive and emotional orientation towards their experience. The paper summarizing our findings, “Hollaback!: The Role of Collective Storytelling in a Social Movement Organization,” received a best paper nomination at the Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) Conference in 2013.
Facebook as a Parallel Public Sphere
My master’s thesis focused on the use of Facebook by Colombian immigrant women. Using ethnographic methods, I explored how participants utilized Facebook for impression management and political activism.