(PhD, U. of Connecticut, 2004)
Office: 285 Flanagan Building
I am a cultural and visual anthropologist whose area of interest is Latin America, especially contemporary Cuban history and culture. Since the summer of 2000, I have conducted ethnographic research on various aspects of Cuban society.
Most of my ethnographic research focuses on the anthropology of daily life in Cuba including resource distribution, social networks, gender and social status, and the use of humor to cope with daily stressors. I I analyze how the ways people make ends meet despite scarcity of goods and the importance of social relations to guarantee the allocation of necessary supplies and services. I have a special interest in the changing roles of women in the global economy, as mediators between the state and the community in Cuba, as exploited laborers in transnational enterprises throughout the world, and as change-makers in local, national, and global social movements.
Recent publication: "Cuba in transition: Tourism industry perceptions of entrepreneurial change." Tourism Management 50 (2015) 184-193. With Nathan Higtgen, Carol Kline, Nancy Gard McGehee
I am a part of an interdisciplinary research team, which studies social spaces and commemorative monuments of the 1959 Revolution. Since 2005, we have documented numerous sites in both Santiago de Cuba and Havana. Our findings were presented in May 2011 at the Caribbean Studies Association Annual Meeting in Willemstad, Curacao, and our research has been supported in part by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s New Directions Initiative.
Recent publication: "Representing the Revolution: Public History and the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba." Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Volume 37, No. 73, 2012 125-154. With Anita Waters.
I received my Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut in 2004. My dissertation focused on documenting the Kichwa Indians community development project Kallari, which offers alternative economic options to people living in the Amazon Basin.
My current research centers on laughter and comedy in the Cuban experience, specifically how Islanders use humor to cope with the daily stresses of life. It focuses on the relationships among contemporary Cuban life, comedy, and material culture. Humor connects Cubans in the extreme conditions in which they find themselves and draws on their common experiences in a comical way which allows space for discussions, poking fun, and even finding solutions.
Recent presentations: "Los Pichy Boys: The Carnivalesque in Diaspora YouTube Videos." Caribbean Studies Association Conference, New Orleans, LA; "Deja Que Yo Te Cuente and Vivir del Cuento: Cuban TV Sitcoms on the Island" 9th Annual International Scholars' Symposium, ECU, Greenville, NC.
Here at ECU, I teach classes, both online and face to face for the Department of Anthropology, the International Studies and the Global Understanding Programs.
In the Fall of 2011, I created a collaborative project called “teaching diversity through music” for the Global Understanding Program. This project received support from the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Community Relations. Music was the focal point of dialogue and used to join students from around the world. Students took part in a song exchange assignment as a means of developing cultural understanding. http://www.ecu.edu/cs-cas/articles/lfernandes.cfm
I teach courses both for the International Studies minor as well as core courses for the MA in International Studies, in addition to being an MA thesis advisor.
One thing that is important to my teaching and research is the use of visual anthropological methods in representing culture. I use both ethno-photography and ethnographic film to document Cuban contemporary culture. I have also published on using these methods to develop students' cultural understanding.
Recent publications: "Developing Community Leadership Vision through Visual Anthropology: A Student Project." Community Works Online Journal. (http://communityworksinstitute.org/cwjonline/articles/luci_visualanthro/luci_text/luci_visanthro_intro.html#sthash.cgpla9ve.dpuf)
"The Art of Seeing: Visual Anthropology as a Road into Experience." Community Works Online Journal. (http://communityworksinstitute.org/cwjonline/articles/luci_visualanthro/luci_text/luci_visanthro_intro.html#sthash.cgp1a9ve.dpuf)
I have created and taught two new courses. One for the Department of Anthropology on visual anthropology, which received funding from the BB&T Center for Leadership Development, and the other for the Honors College on Cuban history and culture.
Prior to my arrival to North Carolina in 2008, I lived in Havana, Cuba with my husband and dog, who are both now in Greenville. We had a recent addition to our family in January of 2014, a little girl, Francesca Sofia! Living in Cuba gave me the rare and unique perspective on Cuban daily life, as well as a deeper understand, that I can share through my work in the classroom and beyond.