Luci Fernandes

Luci Fernandes

(PhD, U. of Connecticut, 2004)
Office: 285 Flanagan Building
Phone: 252-737-1072

About Me

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.

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. (

"The Art of Seeing: Visual Anthropology as a Road into Experience." Community Works Online Journal. (

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.

Currently, I am the faculty advisor for both the Latino student organization SALSA and the Latina sorority for Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc. (LTA)

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.

Personal Pages and Links

ECU Article

luci fernandes

Department News

 Dr, Bailey's article, "A New Online Strategy in Teaching Racial and Ethnic Health and Health Disparities to Public Health Professionals" was accepted by the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. It will appear in the 2016 issue of the Journal.

Excavations in the Western Negev Highlands: Results of the Negev Emergency Survey 1978-89  by Dr. Benjamin Saidel and co-author M. Haimon was published December 2014 by British Archaeological Reports. See here for more.


Haley Drabek translated the Tyrrell Water Management Study finalized in 2014 into 9 separate brochures, one for each proposed water management district. She spent six weeks visiting property owners in each district to explain the benefits of participating in the localized water management district and asking for signatures of intent to join.

Anna Claire researched existing oral history booklets at the Tyrrell Visitor Center and then interviewed elderly Tyrrell County residents who grew up in the county. She taped these interviews for safe keeping at the Visitor Center and is currently writing narrative reports of the collected information, one for each conversation partner. These reports will be bound and held at the Tyrrell County Visitor Center for interested readers. Anna Claire has also been involved with a group of children in the county with a diverse ethnic background. Under Anna Claire's direction the children are currently writing a newsletter that will report on the children's experiences of growing up in Tyrrell County, exploring their favorite places, activities, and hopes for their future.  

 Click here to see Anthropology's latest Newsletter

East Carolina ranks number one for the second consecutive year as the provider of graduate degrees for the Register of Professional Archaeologists registrants! Read more here

 Dr. Holly Mathews and Dr. Laura Mazow were recognized for their outstanding teaching methods by students during the Spring 2015 semester from the College STAR.

Student response for Dr. Mathews:

"She gives feedback and forces her students to expand their mind and explore alternate theories or explanations. She wants her students to discuss topics in class instead of just listening to her talk the entire time."

Student response for Dr. Mazow:

"We have a small class which allows many opportunities for a lot of class discussion...She always provides feedback and answers to our journal entries and is always available when we need help." 

Congratulations to them both!

This summer two undergraduate anthropology students at East Carolina University, Tyler Beasley and Anna Lawrence, worked as interns for the Hyde County Office of Planning and Economic Development through the State Employees' Credit Union Foundation public service internship program. Both interns worked on research projects aimed at improving economic development by better understanding the needs of the local business community.


Marina Clough, also an undergraduate anthropology student at East Carolina University, completed an internship at Wanchese Industrial Park and provided an overview of webpages and print media that write or advertise about sailing related events, helped plan the Regatta of Sail NC and conducted 40 interviews with participants.

Dr. Charles Ewen interviewed for the New York Times. Is it the Roanoke Island Colony? Read more to find out!