Mrinalini Tankha

Dr. Mrinalini Tankha Dr. Mrinalini Tankha

Assistant Professor
PhD, Brandeis University, 2013

Dr. Tankha is an economic and applied anthropologist. Her research interests include the anthropology of money and finance; business and design anthropology; international development; political economy; new technologies and digital finance; remittances; informal economies; Cuba; Latin America and the Caribbean. 

In her research, Dr. Tankha examines macroeconomic monetary policy and everyday sociocultural practices of money in Cuba to understand the broader confrontations of its official socialist ideology with shifting consumption patterns, hybrid business practices, rising labor hierarchies and widespread illicit activities. Her 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, she is currently completing her book manuscript titled The New Cuban Counterpoint: Money, Value and Sovereignty in Post-Soviet Havana.

In her next project, Dr. Tankha will explore how newly introduced global digital business platforms, cashless banking instruments and alternative crypto currencies such as Bitcoin are facilitating private businesses and transnational speculation in Cuba’s real estate market. This research will consider how Cuba’s privatization process is undergirded by a set of interconnected global financial and technological infrastructures.

 Dr. Tankha has also mentored and worked collaboratively with scholars, industry professionals and development practitioners located across the globe conducting multi-disciplinary research on financial inclusion through forms of digital finance. She has been an advisor on projects that use methods of user experience research and human-centered design to have impact and be actionable in communities through context-specific design and user-friendly digital interfaces for financial products, innovative financial education tools, and by disseminating research insights to stakeholders in industry, public policy and academia. At PSU, she is developing programs in the field of applied anthropology to connect students to local businesses and organizations using similar methods and principles to create socially responsible and sustainable communities. 


“Chiastic Currency Spheres: Postsocialist “Conversions” in Cuba’s Dual Economy” In Money at the Margins: Global Perspectives on Technology, Inclusion & Design. Bill Maurer, Smoki Musaraj and Ivan Small Eds. New York and Oxford: Berghahn (forthcoming – February 2018).

Review of After Love: Queer Intimacy and Erotic Economies in Post-Soviet Cuba by Noelle M. Stout, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014. American Anthropologist. (2017). 119: 171-172.

The Heads and Tails of Monetary Duality” Cuba Counterpoints: Public Scholarship about a Changing Cuba, (2016).

The Mobile Money Experience in Sub-Saharan Africa: Lessons from the IMTFI” The African Technopolitan Magazine (Issue on “The Poverty of Development Strategy in Africa), (2016). Vol. 5, January 2016. Pp. 96-105.

Review of Cuba: A Struggle for Consumption by Anna Cristina Petriera, Coconut Creek, FL: Caribbean Studies Press, 2011. New West Indian Guide. (2014). 88 (1-2): 123-125.

Anth 305 Cultural Theory
Anth 311U Peoples and Cultures of Latin America
Anth 399 Anthropology of Development
Anth 399 Business, Culture and Society
Anth 412 Research Methods in Social and Cultural Anthropology

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)