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Robin C. Reineke: Forensic Citizenship Among Families of Missing Migrants Along the U.S.-Mexico Border

October 5, 2021 @ 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Forensic Citizenship Among Families of Missing Migrants Along the U.S.-Mexico Border


Since the mid-1990s, US federal policy has funneled unauthorized migration through remote portions of the Sonoran Desert, resulting in thousands of deaths and disappearances. A growing body of literature on the work to find, care for, and identify those who have died at international borders largely focuses on forensic authorities or humanitarian volunteers. Often left out of such analyses are the families of the missing and dead, who I argue are some of the most critical actors in such work. Drawing on fieldwork done between 2006 and 2021, in this article I discuss how families of missing migrants impact forensic science procedures along the US-Mexico border. They do this through the development of knowledge, skills, and relationships with NGOs and government-employed forensic authorities. I argue that families of missing migrants are engaged in active citizenship that builds relationships of care and obligation among and between themselves, forensic scientists, and the missing and dead.


Robin Reineke is a sociocultural anthropologist with specializations in transnational migration, science and technology studies, human rights, forensic anthropology, and biopolitics. Her research and fieldwork are focused on the US-Mexico border region, especially the Sonoran Desert. Her past research investigated the impact of border deaths and disappearances on immigrant communities, and the ways in which families of missing migrants have changed the practice of forensic science in the US-Mexico borderlands. From 2006 – 2020, she worked closely with the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, and then co-founded the Colibrí Center for Human Rights, which she directed from 2013 – 2019. Dr. Reineke is Assistant Research Social Scientist at the University of Arizona’s Southwest Center and Affiliated Faculty in the School of Anthropology and the Latin American Studies Department. She is a 2021 Confluence Center Faculty Fellow. She was awarded the Institute for Policy Studies’ Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award and Echoing Green’s Global Fellowship both in 2014.

Science, Technology, and Human Rights Fall Speaker Series

How have science and technology  historically shaped understandings of human rights? How have human rights frameworks shaped the creation and use of scientific and technological capabilities? This speaker series explores the relationship of science and technology to ideas about human rights over time, including how science and technology have been mobilized historically in the defense of human rights and to assist in the pursuit of truth and justice after atrocity. The series is tied to the fall semester course STS.458 Science, Technology, and Human Rights.

All talks are open to the public.

MIT STS Faculty and Moderator:

Prof. Eden Medina, Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society (STS)

PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED: https://mit.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_kqKYJTvHROObgL6iMUQQkA


October 5, 2021
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

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