Ieva Jusionyte is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Committee on Degrees in Social Studies at Harvard University. She holds a PhD and an MA in Anthropology from Brandeis University and a BA in Political Science from Vilnius University. Between 2012 and 2016 Jusionyte was assistant professor of anthropology and Latin American Studies at the University of Florida, where she coordinated the Crime, Law, and Governance in the Americas program.
As a social anthropologist of Latin America, Jusionyte focuses on the ethnographic study of security, crime, statecraft and the media. Her first book, Savage Frontier: Making News and Security on the Argentine Border (University of California Press 2015; www.savagefrontierbook.com) is based on ethnographic research conducted in the border area between Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay between 2008 and 2014. While the “Triple Frontier” region has been an alleged haven of international organized crime, which the global media portrays as the hub of drug and human trafficking, contraband, and money laundering, Jusionyte’s work shows how local journalists both participate in and contest these global and national security discourses and practices. Drawing on Jusionyte’s professional background as a news reporter and her 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, Jusionyte’s work on the tri-border area has appeared in scholarly journals, including Cultural Anthropology and American Ethnologist.
In 2015, Jusionyte began ethnographic research on security infrastructures and emergency services along the border between Sonora and Arizona, through a project supported by a Senior Research Award from the National Science Foundation and a Post PhD research grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation. She is currently writing her second book, tentatively called Threshold: Emergency and Rescue on the U.S.-Mexico Border, in which she explores the everyday practices and experiences of first responders under heightened security on both sides of the international boundary (http://www.borderrescueproject.com). Written from the perspective of Mexican and Mexican-American firefighters and paramedics, who work in the marginalized social space on the edges of two states, where the harsh physical terrain has been further militarized by the “war on drugs”, “war on terror,” and "war on migration," the book shows what happens when security politics and humanitarian ethics violently collide. The manuscript won the 2016 Public Anthropology competition and is under contract with University of California Press (forthcoming in 2018).
Most recently, her attention has turned to examining the political economy and cultural history of firearms in Mexico. This new project will document the social biography of the gun, from its manufacturing, through the (legal and illegal) circuits of exchange, to its use at the interface of organized crime and the country's security forces. Stitching together gun shows and pawn shops in the U.S. to the crime scenes, emergency rooms, morgues, and ballistic forensics labs in Mexico, the study traces how firearms move between regimes of knowledge and power.