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 most recent book, The Way That Leads Among the Lost: Life, Death, and Hope in Mexico City's Anexos (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2024) examines how violence precedes and functions in the ways families seek to care for and protect each other. Central to this work are anexos (annexes), informal and coercive rehabilitation clinics for the treatment of drug addiction that are run and utilized by the working poor, and which incorporate violence into their therapeutic practices. Anexos are widespread across Mexico and are widely condemned as abusive, illegal, ineffective, and unethical. By situating anexos within a larger social and historical frame, and closely attending to life within and beyond these spaces, Garcia shows that anexos provide refuge from the catastrophic and everyday violence associated with the drug war. The book also demonstrates that anexos are the leading resource for the treatment of drug addiction among Mexico’s poor, and are an essential space of protection for individuals at risk of the intensifying violence in Mexico.

Garcia's first 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.

Currently, Garcia is studying the environmental, social, and bodily effects resulting from Mexico City’s ongoing desagüe, the massive drainage project initiated by Spanish colonists in the seventeenth century in the Valley of Mexico. Mexico City’s desagüe speaks to some of the most pressing concerns of our time: water scarcity, humans’ relationship to changing ecologies, and chronic disease. This project examines how the desagüe remakes bodies, neighborhoods, and social worlds.

Academic Appointments

Program Affiliations

  • Center for Latin American Studies

Professional Education

  • Ph.D., Harvard University, Social Anthropology (2007)
  • B.A., University of California, Berkeley, Anthropology (1997)

All Publications

  • The confessional community Narratives of violence and survival in Mexico City's<i> anexos</i> AMERICAN ETHNOLOGIST Garcia, A. 2023

    View details for DOI 10.1111/amet.13204

    View details for Web of Science ID 001074621100001

  • Fragments of Relatedness: Writing, Archiving, and the Vicissitudes of Kinship ETHNOS Garcia, A. 2019
  • THE BLUE YEARS: An Ethnography of a Prison Archive CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY Garcia, A. 2016; 31 (4): 571-594

    View details for DOI 10.14506/ca31.4.06

    View details for Web of Science ID 000389218000006

  • Violence, addiction, recovery: An anthropological study of Mexico's anexos. Transcultural psychiatry Garcia, A., Anderson, B. 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 Cultural Anthropology Garcia, A. 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 Garcia, A. 2015; 29 (4): 455-472

    View details for DOI 10.1111/maq.12208

    View details for Web of Science ID 000368421600013

  • Serenity: Violence, Inequality, and Recovery on the Edge of Mexico City. Medical anthropology quarterly Garcia, A. 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. BJPsych bulletin Anderson, B. T., Garcia, A. 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 Garcia, A. 2014; 42 (1): 51-64

    View details for DOI 10.1111/etho.12038

    View details for Web of Science ID 000332924900005

  • Regeneration: Life, Drugs and the Remaking of Hispano Inheritance Social Anthropology Garcia, A. 2014; 22 (2): 200-212

    View details for DOI 10.1111/1469-8676.12070

  • The Elegiac Addict, Revisited Addiction Trajectories Garcia, A. edited by Garriott, W., Reikhel, E. Duke University Press. 2013
  • Scripting Addiction: The Politics of Therapeutic Talk and American Sobriety (Book Review) AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST Book Review Authored by: Garcia, A. 2012; 114 (1): 160-161
  • Suffering Without Health Insurance The Progressive Magazine Garcia, A. 2011; 31-32
  • Reading Righteous Dopefiend with My Mother Anthropology Now Garcia, A. 2010; 2 (3): 31-36
  • The Pastoral Clinic: Addiction and Dispossession Along the Rio Grande Garcia, A. University of California Press. 2010
  • The Elegiac Addict A Medical Anthropology Reader Garcia, A. 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 Garcia, A. 2008; 23 (4): 718-746