Ana Villarreal’s research interests lie in the intersections of criminal violence, urban inequality, and the histories of global drugs. Her book manuscript The Armored City: Violence and Seclusion in the Mexican Metropolis reveals how increased violent crime prompts the concentration of urban wealth and public security at the city level to the detriment of larger metropolitan areas. More broadly, this book theorizes violence not only as an outcome of inequality but as a powerful factor contributing to the reproduction and aggravation of existing inequalities. Her next project Cocaine Cities bridges urban sociology and histories of global cocaine to examine the transnational impact of cocaine route restructuring on violent crime in Latin American cities over the past four decades. A second line of research on worker struggles within the labor process is grounded in an ethnography of bus driving in Monterrey, Mexico.
Her work has been funded by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the American Association of University Women, the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States, the Mexican National Council for Science and Technology, the BU Initiative on Cities, the BU Pardee School for Global Studies, and the BU Center for the Humanities.
Professor Villarreal teaches social theory, urban inequality, and social problems with an emphasis on global cocaine, crack cocaine, and the divergent trajectories of violent crime in American versus Latin American cities.