- Additional Positions at AU
- Faculty Affiliate, Center for Latin and Latino Studies
- Faculty Affiliate, Ethnographies of Empire Research Cluster
- PhD Geography, University of California, Berkeley (2015)
BA Migration and Refugee Studies, Stanford University (2003)
- Languages Spoken
- English and Spanish
- Book Currently Reading
- Theory of the Border by Thomas Nail
Anthony W. Fontes, geographer and ethnographer, writes and teaches about violence, migration and forced displacement, transnational illicit economies, mass incarceration, and the politics of security in the Americas. His research has been funded by the Open Society Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, and the HF Guggenheim Foundation. His first book, Mortal Doubt: Transnational Gangs and Social Order in Guatemala City (UC Press 2018), winner of the 2018 William LeoGrande Award, explores cycles of violence and migration in the making of extreme peacetime insecurity in Central America’s Northern Triangle. His ethnographic fieldwork trespasses the blurred boundaries between the underworld, the state and law-abiding society, scaling between the intimate and the global to illuminate how transnational forces impact the personal and the everyday.
His current book project, “The Walls Close In: Borders, Prisons, and the American Dream”, delves into the global rise of revanchist anti-immigrant politics through the lens of the “Central American Migration Crisis” that began in 2014. Combining multi-sited transnational ethnography and discourse analysis, this project explores how the infrastructures and politics of immigration and imprisonment entwine in the 21st century.
Dr. Fontes is also engaged in several collaborative projects, including 1) an investigation of the evolution of the sanctuary movement in the Washington DC metropolitan area and 2) comparative research and analysis of transnational drug-trafficking networks in Central Asia and Central America.
Before entering academia, he worked as an immigrant and refugee legal advocate in Cairo, Egypt and the United States, an environmental justice researcher in India, and an actor in South America. In addition to numerous scholarly publications, his work has also appeared in Newsweek, Salon, and the New York Times.
• Critical Security Studies
• Refugee and Migration Studies
• Post-Colonial Studies
• Prison Studies
• Urban Studies
• Latin American Studies (especially Central America, security politics, human rights, urban inequality, illicit political economies, and migration)
- See Also
- Professor Fontes' Personal Website
- Mortal Doubt: Transnational Gangs and Social Order in Guatemala City
- For the Media
- To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.
SISU-306 Adv Int'l Studies Research: Field Res Uncrtnty/Pol of Fear
SISU-360 Topics in Iden/Race/Gend/Cultr: Borders/Migrants/Refugees 21C
Area of Expertise
Latin American security, U.S.-Latin America relations, Central America, Mexico, Immigration, asylum, prisons, gangs, illicit drugs, crime and insecurity, transnational gangs
Anthony W. Fontes is assistant professor in the School of International Service. His first book, Mortal Doubt: Transnational Gangs and Social Order in Guatemala City, explores the evolution of transnational gangs like the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) from the Cold War into the present. Based on years of ethnographic fieldwork inside Central American prisons, police precincts, and urban neighborhoods, Mortal Doubt delves into the meaning of life and death in the shadow of extreme violence. In addition, he has conducted extensive on-the-ground research along international drug trafficking corridors and immigration routes in Central America and Mexico. His work on prisons, immigration, gangs, and drug-trafficking has appeared in numerous peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes. He has also published artciles in The Guardian and The New York Times.