I am assistant professor of anthropology and social studies at Harvard University. My research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of political-legal and medical anthropology, with a focus on the study of state power and the materiality of violence; law and criminalized livelihoods; discourses and infrastructures of security; technologies of injury; politics and ethics of representation; and ethnography as method and storytelling.
Based on fieldwork in the tri-border area between Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay from 2008 to 2014, my first book, Savage Frontier: Making News and Security on the Argentine Border (University of California Press 2015), examines how local journalists both participate in and contest global and national security discourses and practices in a region portrayed as the hub of drug and human trafficking, contraband, and money laundering. Drawing on my professional background as a news reporter and experience of producing an investigative television program “Proximidad” in Argentina, the book probes politics and ethics of representation and knowledge production in ethnography and in journalism. In addition to the book, my work on the tri-border area appeared in scholarly journals, including Cultural Anthropology, American Ethnologist, Anthropological Quarterly, and Political and Legal Anthropology Review.
My second research project, supported by the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation, focuses on security infrastructures and emergency services along the border between Sonora and Arizona. My new book, Threshold: Emergency Responders on the U.S.-Mexico Border (University of California Press, 2018), delves into the lives of first responders under heightened security on both sides of the wall (http://www.borderrescueproject.com). Written from the perspective of Mexican and Mexican-American firefighters and paramedics, who work on the edges of two states–in an area, where the overlapping “wars” (on drugs, on terror, and on migration) have militarized both the built and the natural environment–the book reveals what happens when politics of wounding and ethics of rescue collide. The book was selected as the winner of the 2016 Public Anthropology competition. Articles based on this study have also been published in American Anthropologist and Anthropology Today.
Currently I am conducting fieldwork for my latest project, Firepower, a multi-sited ethnographic study that follows firearms as they move through legal and political regimes that compete to define their meaning and value–from gun shows and pawn shops in Texas and Arizona to shooting ranges, forensic labs, and public disarmament campaigns around Mexico. It is a social biography of a gun set against the cultural history and political economy of violence.
In addition to academic publications, I have written articles for The Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, and The Guardian. I have also discussed my research on BBC World and NPR, and it has been cited by Newsweek, The Intercept, The Dallas Morning News, and other popular media.