Watson Institute at Brown University
International and Public Affairs

Ieva Jusionyte

Watson Family Associate Professor of International Security and Anthropology

Areas of Interest: Materiality of violence; law and criminalized livelihoods; discourses and infrastructures of security; technologies of injury; politics and ethics of representation; ethnography as method and storytelling.

Biography

Ieva Jusionyte is the Watson Family 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. 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 Mexican-American firefighters 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 currently conducting fieldwork for her latest project, 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.

Research

Jusionyte’s scholarship explores the intrinsic conceptual and material relationship between 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 that of 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 artefacts. 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.

Publications

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.

Teaching

Talks & Media

Ieva Jusionyte, "Borders Without Doctors?:" The Boston Globe Magazine, July 21, 2019.

"Weaponizing Walls: Trump, the Border, and Its Scars (with Dr. Ieva Jusionyte)." Declarations: The Human Rights Podcast, University of Cambridge, UK, September 11, 2019.

Ieva Jusionyte, "Fractures, trauma, amputations: What medics see when they rescue migrants at the border." Los Angeles Times, February 17, 2019.

"‘Threshold’ Explores Work of First Responders Along U.S.-Mexico Border." Live interview with Michael Krasny for KQED Forum, December 11, 2018.

"What Emergency Responders Face on the US-Mexico Border." Interview for NPR’s The Takeaway at WNYC Studios, November 20, 2018.

Ieva Jusionyte, "What I Learned as an EMT at the Border Wall." The Atlantic, October 20, 2018.