Robert Armengol is an anthropologist and journalist with two decades of experience in immersive fieldwork, print and radio documentary, and teaching in higher education.
Armengol’s research on the political economy of contemporary Cuba takes a bottom-up view of markets and private enterprise, showing how elements of socialism energize survival strategies amid economic crisis, even as ordinary people resist and reshape the dominance of the socialist state. The ethnographic research at the core of his forthcoming book, Island of Invention: Everyday Struggles in Late Socialist Cuba, has been supported by Fulbright and Ford fellowships, and is based on several years living and working in Havana.
In his work for the lab, Armengol is launching several new audio series, including our new podcast Democracy in Danger — on the rise of illiberal and autocratic regimes across the world — as well as upcoming shows on the media ecosystem in the current election cycle, and the political climate of Brazil under Jair Bolsonaro. Armengol is also working on a new show for the Virginia Quarterly Review, called Story Squared, which aims to take listeners inside the making of literary nonfiction.
Before joining the Media Lab, he produced an audio show on legal scholarship called Common Law; advised the student-run podcast Independent Study; and helped manage BackStory, which brought U.S. history to public radio audiences across the country. His reporting has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg News, and various local newspapers and magazines.
Armengol earned his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Virginia in 2013 and has taught at UVa since 2004 — in anthropology, media studies, science and technology studies, and the first-year Engagements. As a postdoctoral fellow, he joined the inaugural cohort of College Fellows, an interdisciplinary team of faculty that overhauled the Arts and Sciences curriculum, adopting a more holistic approach to undergraduate learning and inquiry.