Professor Garcia’s work engages historical and institutional processes through which violence and suffering is produced and lived. A central theme is the disproportionate burden of addiction, depression and incarceration among poor families and communities. Her research is oriented toward understanding how attachments, affect, and practices of intimacy are important registers of politics and economy.
Garcia’s book, The Pastoral Clinic: Addiction and Dispossession Along The Rio Grande (University of California Press, 2010) received awards in anthropology and writing. The Pastoral Clinic explores the relationship between intergenerational heroin use, poverty and colonial history in northern New Mexico. It argues that heroin addiction among Hispanos is a contemporary expression of an enduring history of dispossession, social and intimate fragmentation, and the existential desire for a release from these. Ongoing work in the U.S. explores processes of legal “re-entry” and intimate repair that incarcerated and paroled drug users undertake, particularly within kin networks.
Professor Garcia is currently engaged in research in Mexico City that examines emerging social and discursive worlds related to the dynamics of extreme urban poverty, mental illness and drug addiction in Mexico City, particularly within its peripheral zones. A book manuscript for this work is under contract with Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Associate Professor, Anthropology
Affiliate, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
Center for Latin American Studies
Ph.D., Harvard University, Social Anthropology (2007)
B.A., University of California, Berkeley, Anthropology (1997)
- The confessional community Narratives of violence and survival in Mexico City's<i> anexos</i> AMERICAN ETHNOLOGIST 2023
- Fragments of Relatedness: Writing, Archiving, and the Vicissitudes of Kinship ETHNOS 2019
- THE BLUE YEARS: An Ethnography of a Prison Archive CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY 2016; 31 (4): 571-594
Violence, addiction, recovery: An anthropological study of Mexico's anexos.
2016; 53 (4): 445-464
Informal, coercive residential centers for the treatment of addiction are widespread and growing throughout Latin America. In Mexico these centers are called "anexos" and they are run and utilized by low-income individuals and families with problems related to drugs and alcohol. This article draws on findings from a 3-year anthropological study of anexos in Mexico City. Participant observation and in-depth interviews were used to describe and analyze anexos, their therapeutic practices, and residents' own accounts of addiction and recovery. Our findings indicate that poverty, addiction, and drug-related violence have fueled the proliferation of anexos They also suggest that anexos offer valuable health, social, and practical support, but risk exacerbating the suffering of residents through coercive rehabilitation techniques. Emphasizing this tension, this article considers the complex relationship between coercion and care, and poses fundamental questions about what drug recovery consists of in settings of poverty and violence.
View details for DOI 10.1177/1363461516662539
View details for PubMedID 27535824
The Blue Years: An Ethnogrpahy of a Prison Archive
2016; 31 (4): 572-595
View details for DOI 10.14506/ca31.4.06
- Serenity: Violence, Inequality, and Recovery on the Edge of Mexico City MEDICAL ANTHROPOLOGY QUARTERLY 2015; 29 (4): 455-472
Serenity: Violence, Inequality, and Recovery on the Edge of Mexico City.
Medical anthropology quarterly
2015; 29 (4): 455-72
Over the last decade, there has been a sharp increase in drug addiction in Mexico, especially among the urban poor. During the same period, unregulated residential treatment centers for addiction, known as anexos, have proliferated throughout the country. These centers are utilized and run by marginalized populations and are widely known to engage in physical violence. Based on long-term ethnographic research in Mexico City, this article describes why anexos emerged, how they work, and what their prevalence and practices reveal about the nature of recovery in a context where poverty, drugs, and violence are existential realities. Drawing attention to the dynamic relationship between violence and recovery, pain, and healing, it complicates categories of violence and care that are presumed to have exclusive meaning, illuminating the divergent meanings of, and opportunities for, recovery, and how these are socially configured and sustained.
View details for DOI 10.1111/maq.12208
View details for PubMedID 25808246
'Spirituality' and 'cultural adaptation' in a Latino mutual aid group for substance misuse and mental health.
2015; 39 (4): 191-195
A previously unknown Spanish-language mutual aid resource for substance use and mental health concerns is available in Latino communities across the USA and much of Latin America. This kind of '4th and 5th step' group is a 'culturally adapted' version of the 12-step programme and provides empirical grounds on which to re-theorise the importance of spirituality and culture in mutual aid recovery groups. This article presents ethnographic data on this organisation.
View details for DOI 10.1192/pb.bp.114.048322
View details for PubMedID 26755953
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4706138
- The Promise: On the Morality of the Marginal and the Illicit ETHOS 2014; 42 (1): 51-64
Regeneration: Life, Drugs and the Remaking of Hispano Inheritance
2014; 22 (2): 200-212
View details for DOI 10.1111/1469-8676.12070
- The Elegiac Addict, Revisited Addiction Trajectories edited by Garriott, W., Reikhel, E. Duke University Press. 2013
- Scripting Addiction: The Politics of Therapeutic Talk and American Sobriety (Book Review) AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST 2012; 114 (1): 160-161
- Suffering Without Health Insurance The Progressive Magazine 2011; 31-32
- Reading Righteous Dopefiend with My Mother Anthropology Now 2010; 2 (3): 31-36
- The Pastoral Clinic: Addiction and Dispossession Along the Rio Grande University of California Press. 2010
- The Elegiac Addict A Medical Anthropology Reader edited by Good, B., Fischer, M., Willen, S., Good, M. D. Wiley-Blackwell. 2009
- The Elegiac Addict: Addiction, Chronicity and the Melancholic Subject Cultural Anthropology 2008; 23 (4): 718-746