Travel Scholarship Winner for #AoIR2017 – Justin Grandinetti

Who are you?

Justin Grandinetti

Where are you from?

Place: North Carolina State University, North Carolina USA
Department: Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media

What is your current area of study?
I am interested in scholarship on mobilities, particularly the impact of increasingly mobile streaming production and consumption practices. I take a spatial materialist approach to understanding space, place, and the production of subjectivity with regard to mobile media.

Describe the research you will present at AoIR 2016.

I am co-presenting on a paper titled La revolución digital: Mobile media use in contemporary Cuba. This paper contributes to recent scholarship that investigates mobile internet use in the global south, highlighting disparities and types of access, as well as the shifting social, communal, and societal dynamics that accompany greater web connectivity. Cuba is part of the global south, and ranks among the least internet connected countries in the world. As one of the most comprehensive accounts of technology in Cuba, Venegas’ (2010) work positions Cuban digital media as an assemblage of political, economic, historical, and global factors. Nevertheless, it has been six years since Venegas’ investigation, and mobile digital technologies in Cuba have undergone rapid transformation.

In this paper, we utilize autoethnographic data to study the mobile internet adaptations of Havana, Cuba. Specifically, we draw upon de Souza e Silva and Sutko’s (2010) framework for location-aware mobile media and urban sociability to examine the unique communication and coordination practices of Havana internet culture. Along with de Souza e Silva and Sutko’s heuristic, Massey (2005) and Wiley and Packer’s (2010) notions of space as relational, multiplicitous, and always under construction make possible situating mobile Cuban technologies and practices within a larger social field. These theoretical lenses allow interrogation into the adaptations to locative mobile devices on Cuban mobility, sociability, and space in order understand Cuban media use as an assemblage of local and global forces.
Consequently, this investigation allows for a greater understanding that despite some commonalities, internet access in the “Global South” will vary greatly by a particular country’s unique assemblage.

Have you presented at AoIR in the past? If yes, what has been your experience? If #AoIR2017 Tartu is your first AoIR conference, what made you choose this conference? What do you expect from it?

This will be my first AoIR, but I have heard nothing but amazing things about the conference from friends and colleagues. As a scholar of communication media, I chose this conference because I am interested in internet research. More specifically, this year’s theme of network publics is one that resonates with my own research into mobile media and its role in the production of space and subjectivity. In a contemporary landscape of constant new media innovations and evolutions, thinking in terms of networked effects is a way to avoid unproductive binaries of determinism and simplistic cause and effect. Understanding the relationships between internet technologies and culture assists the acknowledgment of changing global interconnections while retaining a respect for the individual assemblages of space and place around the world. The fact that AoIR draws international scholars across disciplines provides such potential for new ideas and research in crucial contemporary topics. I am extremely excited to attend this conference to share ideas and learn from some amazing scholars—I’m counting down the days until AoIR!

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