Cultural Studies

Cultural Studies

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program

Cultural Studies

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program

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Freddy MonasterioFreddy Monasterio

PhD Candidate in Cultural Studies

Supervisors: Karen Dubinsky and Susan Lord

Email: 13fmb@queensu.ca

Research interests: independence and  alternativity in musical production; post-1990 Cuba; transition economy; digitalization of music

Independent and alternative music are two taken-for-granted notions in the context of contemporary Cuban musical productions. These are both marginalized fields of creation/distribution, often at odds with institutional cultural politics and policies. In response to state hostility, ignorance, and marginalization, many artists have declared their work to be independent and/or alternative. Their supporters are a growing audience of (youth) 'subcultural' groups and mainly foreign sponsors. My project explores the meaning and implications of producing independent and alternative music in post-1990 Cuba, an economy – and a country -  in transition

The rise of musical production outside institutional channels after the end of the Cold War (and the beginning of the Special Period) has been deeply connected to technological innovations, especially the digitalization of music. My work will also examine the way in which a process of 'democratization' facilitated by 'new media' has shaped power and social relations between producers, artists, audience, and cultural institutions, in the context of a predominantly off-line society. The culture sector remains perhaps the most strategic one for the Cuban state.  It is  dynamic in terms of  the volume and diversity of productions, yet at the same time is stagnant or ambiguous in terms of cultural policy and legislation.

Independent producers are claiming their space in a more participatory and inclusive system, challenging a state media monopoly that has lasted 55 years.  What kind of society are these independent producers trying to build? What kind of music will be this society consuming? Is this new society possible within the same structures and principles of the 'Revolution'? How would the 'new Cuba' mediascape look?  What would be the role of digital music in that mediascape? My thesis will explore these questions using case studies such as 'independent' musical venues (e.g. the Fábrica de Arte Cubano), independent music festivals such as Havana World Music and Proelectrónica, and alternatives to the Cuban state recording industry.