Robin C. Reineke

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 U.S.-Mexico border region, especially the Sonoran Desert. Dr. Reineke’s research centers on questions relating to forensics, evidence, and care, including: What qualifies as “evidence” and who has the power to create forums where evidence is presented and discussed? How are forensic methodologies employed as a critical social practice beyond state practices of policing? What can the history of forensic anthropology reveal about the history of anthropology and race and racism in the United States? How has migration along the U.S.-Mexico border changed forensic science? What are the impacts of U.S. border militarization on local human and nonhuman communities? Some of Dr. Reineke’s 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 U.S.-Mexico borderlands. From 2006 to 2021, she spent significant time working with the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, doing ethnographic research and collaborating in the development of various projects and initiatives to address the challenges of unidentified human remains and missing persons in the borderlands. These initiatives included development of the nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, the Colibrí Center for Human Rights, which Dr. Reineke co-founded and directed from 2013 to 2019. Dr. Reineke is currently working on her first book, The Forensics of Human Identification at the Border: An Ethnographic Study, which focuses on the experience of Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner forensic scientists as they navigated their work in an era of mass death along the U.S.-Mexico border. The book is particularly concerned with the question of how these forensic scientists created procedures and practices in a gray zone between the law and ethics, best practice and budget limitations, and local and federal responsibility. In addition, together with her research colleague Dr. Natalia Mendoza Rockwell, Dr. Reineke is currently working on a binational research project called Forensic Citizenship in the Borderlands. This visual, oral history, and ethnographic project is focused on understanding civilian forensic expertise and critical practice on both sides of the Arizona-Sonora border. The project is funded by the University of Arizona Libraries Digital Borderlands Program and the ConfluenceCenter for Creative Inquiry. 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.

Posts by This Author

Two Decades of Death and Disappearance along the U.S.-Mexico Border

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Two Decades of Death and Disappearance along the U.S.-Mexico Border

As the forensic anthropologist used a scalpel to remove decayed cartilage from the pubic symphysis of an unidentified woman, she spoke gently to the bones: “Ok... More