1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Roberto Armengol

Media Lab Producer

Ph.D. University of Virginia 2013

Brooks Hall 305


I am a sociocultural anthropologist with two decades of field experience in urban Cuba. My forthcoming book looks at how the political economy of late socialism has been reshaped in the everyday practices of working-class entrepreneurs. The larger themes of this work include markets, gift exchange and sustainable alternatives to neoliberal capitalism. In 2019-2020, I held a Ford Fellowship to extend my ethnographic research on cooperative solidarity in greater Havana.

Prior to that, I served with UVa faculty from across the liberal arts in the inaugural class of College Fellows. Together, the fellows redesigned the undergraduate curriculum in Arts and Sciences and developed a new first-year experience for college students focused on holistic inquiry.

My professional life began, and continues, in the media. I’ve worked as a staff writer at daily newspapers, a reporter for Bloomberg News, and a public radio producer. In my time as a UVa postdoc, I launched Independent Study, a student-driven ethnographic audio lab; worked with the deans of the law school on the podcast Common Law; and developed the Virginia Quarterly Review's first audio story series, with support from a Jefferson Trust grant. In my current position, I produce documentary work for the Deliberative Media Lab, part of the university's Democracy Initiative.


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.


Selected Publications

Forthcoming: Island of Invention: Everyday Struggles in Late Socialist Cuba. Manuscript under review.

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
Culture Through Film
Doing Fieldwork
Introduction to Globalization
Making Cuba
Markets and Moralities
Telling the Truth


Department Faculty

Sonia Alconini
David A. Harrison III Professor of American Archaeology
Ira Bashkow
Goldsmith Family NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor, 2018-2021: Associate Professor
Frederick H. Damon
Eve Danziger
Professor and Director of the Interdepartmental Program in Linguistics
Lise Dobrin
Associate Professor
Gertrude Fraser
Associate Professor
Richard Handler
Professor & Director of Global Development Studies Program
James Igoe
Professor & Chair
Kasey Jernigan
Assistant Professor of Anthropology and American Studies
Adria LaViolette
Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies
Daniel Lefkowitz
Associate Professor
George Mentore
Associate Professor
Rachel Most
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Programs & Professor
Fraser D. Neiman
China Scherz
Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies
Mark Sicoli
Assistant Professor, Director of Graduate Admissions
Margaret Smith
Director & Curator, The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection
Sylvia Tidey
Assistant Professor
Patricia Wattenmaker
Associate Professor
Kath Weston
Jarrett Zigon
William & Linda Porterfield Chair in Biomedical Ethics and Professor of Anthropology