Assistant Professor


I am a sociologist of emotions, cities, violence, and their relations to inequality. I specialize on Mexico where fear stemming from increased criminal and state violence has deepened class, racial, urban, and civic disparities.

My first book The Two Faces of Fear: Violence and Inequality in the Mexican Metropolis (Oxford University Press, May 7, 2024) draws on two years of qualitative fieldwork conducted during a major turf war in Monterrey, Mexico to trace the far-reaching impact of fear and violence on social ties, daily practices, and everyday spaces. It brings two seemingly contradictory faces of fear into focus—its ability to both isolate and concentrate people and resources, deepening inequality. While all residents of one of Mexico’s largest metropolises confronted new threats, the most privileged leveraged vastly unequal resources to spatially concentrate and defend one municipality more fiercely than the rest. Within this defended city, business, nightlife, and public space thrived at the expense of the greater metropolis. The book puts forth a new approach to the study of emotion and provides tangible evidence of how quickly fear worsens inequality beyond Mexico and the “war on drugs.”

This book is part of a broader research agenda investigating social responses and adaptations to violence ranging from innovations in everyday speech to new forms of civic engagement. New threats call for new coping codes to minimize, protect, and make sense of them collectively, though words have dire consequences when used to criminalize victims accused of “being into something” (for more, listen here). Increased violence prompts the rise of new logistics of fear or strategies used to bind fear on an everyday basis. Taking a cross-class approach to these shifting practices over time reveals cities can be restructured in the process, as in the case of San Pedro that became a defended city (for more, listen here). Violence also stirs new forms of civic engagement, including direct and tangential lines of collective action calling on the state to repair the “little things” such as sidewalks in the hopes of building state accountability for larger issues. Works-in-progress further examine social responses to violence through the lens of sensory refinement, shifts in conspicuous consumption as new threats pit status markers and security needs, and methodological insights on gaining distance while conducting insider fieldwork in troubled times (for a recent panel on emotions in fieldwork at the Ethnographic Café, see here). Previous research on gender and worker struggles within the labor process is grounded in an ethnography of bus driving in Monterrey.

This research is published in Sociological Theory, Emotions and Society, City and Community, Work and Occupations, and in three edited volumes on the origins and consequences of escalating violence in Mexico and the Americas more broadly. The Emotions and Society article received the 2023 Outstanding Contribution Award from the Sociology of Emotions Section of the American Sociological Association. For supporting this work over the years, I thank 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 Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, the BU Center for the Humanities, as well as the BU Initiative on Cities. I am also indebted to all who mentored me through a BA in Social Sciences and Humanities at the Universidad de Monterrey, an MA in Sociology at the Université de Provence and LEST-CNRS, and an MA and PhD in Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Curriculum Vitae