Jennifer L. Burrell

Office: Arts & Sciences Building, Room 244
Ph: (518) 442-4707
Ph.D, New School for Social Research (2005) 
On Sabbatical 2013-14, Humboldt University, Berlin, Institute for Global Studies, Re: Work

Jennifer L. Burrell

Research Interests

Latin America/Central America and the diaspora, the Maya
Political economy, structural and political violence, in/security, gender, generation
Human rights, development, humanitarianism
Migration, transnationalism, globalization, indigeneity
Health and immigrant healthcare access

Current Research

I’m a sociocultural political anthropologist broadly interested in questions of power, structural and political violence, political economy, and the construction of inequalities. I conduct research in Guatemala, Mexico and the United States, on migration, security, human rights and the state.


My monograph, Maya After War:  Conflict, Power and Politics (University of Texas Press 2013), is based on two decades of fieldwork in Guatemala.  From the back cover:  Guatemala’s thirty-six-year civil war culminated in peace accords in 1996, but the postwar transition has been marked by continued violence, including lynchings and the rise of gangs, as well as massive wage-labor exodus to the United States. For the Mam Maya municipality of Todos Santos Cuchumatán, inhabited by a predominantly indigenous peasant population, the aftermath of war and genocide resonates with a long-standing tension between state techniques of governance and ancient community-level power structures that incorporated concepts of kinship, gender, and generation. Showing the ways in which these complex histories are interlinked with wartime and enduring family/class conflicts, Maya After War provides a nuanced account of a unique transitional postwar situation, including the complex influence of neoliberal intervention.


My current research examines the nexus of migration and security-making practices and considerations among migrants in the US and the communities from which they hail in Central America and Mexico, and how concepts of rights and generation figure in these.  Another research interest is the contemporary state and modes of belonging and citizenship.


Since 2007, I've worked with colleagues from UAlbany and at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico, DF researching Mexican and Central American migration to the New York State capital region, and the issue of health care access.


I provide expert testimony for asylum and immigration cases, and consult for NGOs and international organizations, including the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (since 2001.)


My research has received external support from Fulbright, Wenner Gren, Programa de Investigación de Migración y Salud (PIMSA) and the Gerda Henkel Foundation.

Select Publications


Maya After War:  Conflict, Power and Politics in Guatemala, University of Texas Press (2013) 



Central America in the New Millennium:  Living Transition and Reimagining Democracy, edited with Ellen Moodie, Berghahn (2013)





Selected Articles and Chapters 


2013    Burrell, J. "(After) Lynching," in Aftermath: War by Other Means in Post-Genocide Guatemala, Diane Nelson and Carlota McAllister, eds., pp. 213-240. Duke University Press.

2013    Burrell, J. and E. Moodie. " Introduction: Ethnographic Visions of Millennial Central America." In Central America in the New Millennium: Living Transition and Reimagining Democracy, pp. 1-37. Berghahn Press.


2013    Burrell, J. "Ephemeral Rights & Securitized Lives: Migration, 'Mareros' and Power in Millennial Guatemala," in Central America in the New Millennium: Living Transition and Reimagining Democracy, pp.176-193. Berghahn Press.


2012    Bilbao González, E., J. Burrell and J. Collins. "La migración Mexicana y su aceso a salud: una perspectiva binacional desde Puebla y la región de la capital del estado de Nueva York." In Iberoforum, Año VII, No. 13. Enero, pp. 61-97.


2012.   Burrell, J. and Shuford, J. “Ethnography,” in Encyclopedia of Immigrant Health, Sana Loue and Martha Sajatovic, eds.  Heidelberg:  Springer Publishing, pp. 656-660.


2010Burrell, J.  “In and Out of Rights:  Security, Migration and Human Rights Talk in Postwar Guatemala.”  Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, Vol. 15, No. 1. (April): pp. 90-115.


2010. Burrell, J. Invited commentary on "Toward a Critical Anthropology of Security" by Daniel Goldstein. Current Anthropology, Vol. 51, No. 4, (May) pp. 502-503 


2009.  Burrell, J.Intergenerational Conflict After War,” in Mayas in Postwar Guatemala:  Harvest of Violence Revisited, Walter Little and Timothy J. Smith, eds. U. of Alabama Press, pp. 96-109.


2008Burrell, J. and G. Weston.  “Lynching and Post-War Complexities in Guatemala,” in Global Vigilantes, D. Pratten and A. Sen, eds.  Columbia University Press USA/Hurst & Co, UK, pp. 362-389


2008.   Doretti, M. & J. Burrell.  “Forensic Anthropology in Peace Support Operations.”  In Law Enforcement within the Framework of Peace Support Operations, edited by Roberta Arnold. Koninklijke Brill NV: Leiden, The Netherlands, pp. 179-196.


2007.   Doretti, M. and J. Burrell.  “Grey Spaces and Endless Negotiations:  Forensic Anthropology and Human Rights,” in Anthropology Put to Work, Richard Fox and Les Field, eds,” Berg Publishers, pp. 45-64


2005.   Burrell, J.  “Migration and the Transnationalization of Fiesta Customs in Todos Santos Cuchumatán.”  Latin American Perspectives, Volume 32, No. 5, September, pp. 12-32.