I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Portland State University I was previously a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion (IMTFI), University of California, Irvine. I have a PhD in anthropology from Brandeis University and a BA in economics and MA in sociology from the University of Delhi. I specialize in economic, sociocultural and business anthropology.
My research focuses on Cuba’s dual currency system, which has been a key facilitator of its postsocialist transition. I explore its macroeconomic architecture as well as the sociocultural practices of money that animate its everyday operations, particularly in the workings of the informal economy. Using money and exchange as a lens, I reveal the broader structural contradictions of Cuba’s re-insertion into the global market and the confrontation of its official socialist ideology with shifting consumption patterns, hybrid business practices, rising labor hierarchies and widespread illicit financial activities. My work also situates Cuba’s current postsocialist transition within past histories of decolonization, economic instability and struggles over sovereignty in Latin America and the Caribbean. Based on archival and ethnographic research conducted over a period of ten years, I am currently completing a book manuscript titled The New Cuban Counterpoint: Money, Value and Sovereignty in Post-Soviet Havana.
At IMTFI, I mentored and worked collaboratively with scholars, industry professionals and development practitioners located across the globe conducting research on multi-disciplinary projects addressing financial inclusion through diverse monetary technologies and forms of digital finance. The projects use innovative data collection instruments and aim to have impact and be actionable in communities by crafting financial education tools, making recommendations for more context-specific product design and user-friendly digital interfaces and disseminating research insights to stakeholders in industry, public policy and academia.
As a Research Consultant for a multi-year environmental management, design and planning project, A Sustainable Future for Exuma, at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, I worked with a team of planning and architecture faculty and graduate students using ethnography and applied anthropological methods to set in motion a participatory process of community building with local leaders and residents in the archipelago of Exuma in the Bahamas.
Research Interests: Economic Anthropology; Money and Exchange; Political Economy; Globalization; International Development; Urban Social Networks; Informal Economies; Technology and Digital Finance; Business Anthropology; Human Centered Design; Transition Societies; Cuba; Latin America and the Caribbean.