Ieva Jusionyte

Watson Family University Associate Professor of International Security and Anthropology
111 Thayer St, Room 209
Areas of Expertise Global Health, Human Rights, Immigration, Displacement & Borders, Law Enforcement & Policing, Race, Identity & Ethnicity, State & Municipal Policy
Areas of Interest US-Mexico border, security, migration, emergency medical services, crime, violence, gun policy and gun trafficking


Ieva Jusionyte is the Watson Family University Associate Professor of International Security and Anthropology at Brown University. Her research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of political-legal and medical anthropology, focusing on the social production of injuries. She is the author of two books: "Savage Frontier: Making News and Security on the Argentine Border" (University of California Press 2015), which examines how journalists both participate in and contest global and national security discourses and practices in a region portrayed as the hub of organized crime and "Threshold: Emergency Responders on the U.S.-Mexico Border" (University of California Press, 2018), which delves into the lives of Mexican and American firefighters, EMTs and paramedics on both sides of the militarized international boundary. Threshold was selected as the winner of the 2016 Public Anthropology competition and awarded the 2019 Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing and the 2020 Book Prize from the Society for the Anthropology of Work. In addition to academic publications, Jusionyte has written about her research for The Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, and The Guardian, and discussed it broadly in the media, including on BBC and NPR. She is the coordinator of the Border Injury Archive, an initiative that seeks to collect, systematize, and analyze data on injuries experienced by people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.


Jusionyte’s scholarship explores the intrinsic conceptual and material relationship between the state and violence that underlies the social phenomenon we call "security." She uses ethnography as a method and a form of storytelling to examine the narratives, aesthetics, and practices that underlie security. Based on fieldwork with Argentine news journalists and with Mexican and American emergency responders, her two books examine the power asymmetries that underlie the legal and political construction of threats and the manifold social effects these discourses, policies, and practices have in communities where they are applied. While the first one, "Savage Frontier: Making News and Security on the Argentine Border" (University of California Press 2015) focuses on the production of knowledge about crime and representation of security as a process that is scalar and contested, in which journalists play a role in defining the meanings of both crime and security, the attention in the second book, "Threshold: Emergency Responders on the U.S.-Mexico Border" (University of California Press, 2018), shifts to the materiality of security, particularly the importance of terrain, both the built environment and natural topography, in facilitating social and physical injury as two braided modalities of state violence. Both books approach state violence through the ethnographic and analytic focus on work – that of journalists and emergency responders – and the ethical, political and legal dilemmas that workers grapple with because of their professional mandates.

In addition to two books, Jusionyte has published a number of articles on topics that are central to social scientists studying statecraft, violence, and security, including phenomena that circumscribe their meanings, such as the media.

Jusionyte is currently doing research for a third book project on firearms that circulate in the binational space between the United States and Mexico, both as policy objects and cultural artifacts. Stradling medical and political-legal anthropology, the manuscript, tentatively titled Exit Wounds, takes a narrative approach to public scholarship to examine the social production and communal effects of firearm injuries.


2021. Jusionyte, Ieva. “Violence Exchange.” In Anthropology Now 13(1): 49-54.

2020. Jusionyte, Ieva. "Writing in and from the Field." In Writing Anthropology: Essays on Craft and Commitment, C. McGranahan, ed. Durham: Duke University Press. 

2020. Jusionyte, Ieva. "’We All Have the Same Red Blood’: Security Aesthetics and Rescue Ethics on the Arizona-Sonora Border." In Futureproof: Security Aesthetics and the Urban Imaginary, D. A. Ghertner, D. M. Goldstein, and H. McFann, eds. Durham: Duke University Press. Pp. 87-113.

2018. Jusionyte, Ieva. Threshold: Emergency Responders on the U.S.-Mexico Border. Oakland, CA: University of California Press. 296 p.

2018. Jusionyte, Ieva. "Injured by the Border: Security Buildup, Migrant Bodies and Emergency Response in Southern Arizona." In Bodies as Evidence: Security, Knowledge and, Power, M. Maguire, U. Rao and N. Zurawski, eds. Durham: Duke University Press. Pp. 43-66.

2018. Jusionyte, Ieva. "Called to “Ankle Alley": Migrant Injuries and Emergency Medical Services on the U.S.-Mexico Border.” American Anthropologist 120(1): 89-101.

2016. Jusionyte, Ieva and Daniel M. Goldstein. "In/visible–In/secure: Optics of regulation and control." An introduction to the special issue "In/visible–In/secure." Focaal: Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology 75(2): 3-13.


Ethnographic Research Methods

Violence, Governance, and Transnationalism

Ethnography and Social Critique

Senior Seminar: (Re)making Anthropology

Recent News

Harvard Radcliffe Institute

Wounds across Borders (interview with Ieva Jusionyte)

In an interview on the Harvard Radcliffe Institute's podcast BornCurious, Ieva Jusionyte explains what bodily injuries tell us about borders, violence, and our society.
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Ieva Jusionyte comments for The Washington Post "They are smuggled into Mexico the same way that drugs are coming to the United States - hidden in compartments, in the doors of cars, or in furniture, in trucks."
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Associate Professor Ieva Jusionyte discussed the impact of the United States gun industry on violence in Mexico during a lecture titled, "Exit Wounds: American Guns, Mexican Lives, and the Vicious Circle of Violence" at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute.
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