Roberto Armengol

Postdoctoral College Fellow

Ph.D. University of Virginia 2013


Political economy; gift exchange and alternative economies; globalization and development; socialism and postsocialism; language, semiotics, and the media; visual anthropology; science and technology studies; public anthropology. Cuba, the Caribbean, Latin American and the United States.


Thesis Title

Invention of the Market: The Political Economy of Everyday Life in Late Socialist Cuba. Ph.D.

Current Activities & Location

Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville VA


I am a sociocultural anthropologist with extensive field experience in urban Cuba. Broadly speaking, my work analyzes the moral paradigms through which people live out the material demands of life. In my doctoral thesis I looked at how the political economy of late socialism is reshaped in the everyday practices of working-class entrepreneurs. This research has since developed into an ongoing focus on markets, globalization and sustainable alternatives to neoliberal capitalism.

In 2016, I joined UVa faculty from across the liberal arts in the inaugural class of College Fellows. The fellows are collaborating to pilot the first stage of the new undergraduate curriculum in Arts and Sciences. In that capacity, I am developing courses that introduce first-year students to empirical discovery and the aesthetics of truth in the social sciences.

My professional life began in journalism. I’ve worked as a staff writer at daily newspapers, a reporter for Bloomberg News and, most recently, as the editor of BackStory, a podcast and radio show that airs on NPR-affiliates across the country. I continue to freelance as the occasion arises.

Selected Publications

2014. American Red Cross: Institutional Surveillance Requires Surveillance of Institutional Actors. In Transparency and Surveillance as Sociotechnical Accountability: A House of Mirrors. D.G. Johnson and P.M. Regan, eds. Routledge Studies in Science, Technology and Society. Pp. 59–78. New York: Routledge.

2014. With D.G. Johnson and P.M. Regan. Secure Flight: Hidden Terms of Accountability. In ibid.

2013. Competitive Solidarity and the Political Economy of Invento. Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy. Cuba in Transition. Vol. 23.

2012. With K. Wayland and D.G. Johnson. When Transparency Isn’t Transparent: Campaign Finance Disclosure and Internet Surveillance. In Internet and Surveillance: The Challenges of Web 2.0 and Social Media. C. Fuchs et al., eds. Pp. 255–272. Routledge Studies in Science, Technology and Society. New York: Routledge.

2011. Review of Cuba in the Shadow of Change: Daily Life in the Twilight of the Revolution, by A.R. Weinreb. American Ethnologist 38(4): 835–836.

Selected Courses

Anthropology of Politics
Introduction to Globalization
Making Cuba
Markets and Moralities