Carlos Martinez
  • Pronouns he, him, his, his, himself
  • Title
    • Assistant Professor
  • Division Social Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Latin American & Latino Studies
  • Affiliations Global & Community Health, Dolores Huerta Research Center for the Americas, Legal Studies
  • Phone
    (831) 459-4182
  • Email
  • Office Location
    • Merrill College Academic Building, 111
  • Office Hours Spring 2024: Please email to schedule an appointment
  • Mail Stop Merrill/Crown Faculty Services
  • Courses LALS 54: Racism, Science, and Health: Colonial and Carceral Legacies; LALS 177: Migrant Health and Social Justice; LALS 57: Drugs, Addiction, and Recovery in the Americas; LALS 15: Truth, Justice, and Statistics

Summary of Expertise

Medical anthropology; public health; migration and health; deportation and asylum; addiction, drug war policies, and harm reduction; carcerality and abolition; colonial and decolonial science and medicine; Latinxs and environmental health; Mexico and Central America

Research Interests

My research lies at the intersection of medical anthropology, public health, and Latinx/Latin American studies. In its various manifestations, my research examines the health consequences and sociocultural implications of migrant policing, deportation, our fractured asylum system, environmental injustice, and the global War on Drugs. I am currently developing my first book manuscript, tentatively titled Captive States: Migration and Expulsion on the Carceral Frontierwhich ethnographically examines how the U.S. deportation regime and predatory asylum bureaucracies have transformed the U.S.-Mexico borderland region into a zone of captivity for Central American migrants and Mexican deportees. Based on ongoing ethnographic fieldwork conducted since 2018, this project examines the everyday lives and survival strategies of these communities in Tijuana, Mexico. Moving between migrant and homeless encampments, governmental and private shelters, drug rehabilitation centers, and activist-run medical clinics, this project analyzes the lives of those subjected to intersecting forms of confinement and targeted attrition at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Biography, Education and Training

I received my PhD from the Joint Program in Medical Anthropology at UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley. At UCSF I was affiliated with the Department of Humanities & Social Sciences and at UC Berkeley I was affiliated with the Department of Anthropology. I received my Master of Public Health degree from San Francisco State University's Department of Public Health. As an instructor, my primary goal is to support students in seeing themselves as holders and producers of knowledge as well as agents of change. As with my research, my teaching emphasizes the political and health inequalities structuring our society and ways that communities enact change.

Honors, Awards and Grants

Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship | The National Academies of Sciences,  Engineering, and Medicine (2021-2022)

Rosenberg-Hill Fellowship | UC San Francisco Graduate Division (2021-2022)

Border Ally Award | Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, University of  San Diego  (2021-2022)

UC President’s Pre-Professoriate Fellowship | UC-Hispanic Serving Institutions Doctoral Diversity Initiative (2020-2021)

Mentorship Grant Program | William T. Grant Foundation (2019-2021)

Research Programs on Migration and Health (PIMSA) | UC Berkeley, Health Initiative of the Americas (2020)

Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship | The National Academies of Sciences,  Engineering, and Medicine (2017-2020)

Tinker Summer Field Research Grant | UC Berkeley, Center for Latin American Studies (2017)

Matilda Edlund Merit Based Fellowship | UC San Francisco Graduate Division (2016-2017)

Selected Publications

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles


Martinez, C. (2023). Waiting in Captivity: Slow Borders, Predatory Bureaucracies, and the Necrotemporality of Asylum Deterrence. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 39(2), 1–17.


Martinez, C. (2023). Unruly Waters, Unsanitary Bodies Abject Terrains, Rehabilitation, and Infrastructures of Dispossession on the U.S.–Mexico Border. Medicine Anthropology Theory, 10(2), 1-27.


Aronowitz, S. V., Carroll, J. J., Hansen, H., Jauffret-Roustide, M., Parker, C. M., Suhail-Sindhu, S.,  Albizu-Garcia, C., Alegria, M., Arrendondo, J., Baldacchino, A., Bluthenthal, R.,  Bourgois, P., Burraway, J., Chen, J., Ekhtiari, H., Elkhoy, H., Farhoudian, A., Friedman, J.,  Jordan, A., Kato, L., Knight, K., Martinez, C…Thi Hai Oanh, K. (2022). Substance use policy and practice in the COVID-19 pandemic: Learning from early pandemic responses through internationally comparative field data. Global Public Health, 17(12), 3654–3669.


REPAIR Project Steering Committee. The REPAIR Project: A prospectus for change toward  racial justice in medical education and health sciences research. Academic Medicine: Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges 97, no. 12 (December 1, 2022): 1753–59.


Calderón-Villarreal, A., Terry, B., Friedman, J., González-Olachea, S. A., Chavez, A., Díaz López,  M., Pacheco Bufanda, L., Martinez, C., Medina Ponce, S. E., Cázares-Adame, R., Rochin  Bochm, P. F., Kayser, G., Strathdee, S. A., Muñoz Meléndez, G., Holmes, S. M.,  Bojorquez, I., Los Huertos, M., & Bourgois, P. (2022). Deported, homeless, and into the  canal: Environmental structural violence in the binational Tijuana River. Social Science &  Medicine, 305, 115044. 


Martinez, C., Carruth, L., Janeway, H., Smith, L., Donato, K. M., Piñones-Rivera, C., Quesada,  J., & Holmes, S. M. (2022). How Should Clinicians Express Solidarity with Asylum Seekers at the US-Mexico Border? AMA Journal of Ethics, 24(4), 275–282.  


Carruth, L., Martinez, C., Smith, L., Donato, K., Piñones-Rivera, C., & Quesada, J. (2021). Structural vulnerability: Migration and health in social context. BMJ Global Health,  6(Suppl 1), e005109. 


Whitacre, R., Oni-Orisan, A., Gaber, N., Martinez, C., Buchbinder, L., Herd, D., & Holmes, S.  (2021). COVID-19 and the political geography of racialization in America:  Ethnographic cases from San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Detroit. Global Public Health, Politics & Pandemics [special issue] (March 2021): pp. 1-15.


Seymour, C. K., Griffin, C., Holmes, S. M., & Martinez, C. (2018). Structural differential—A  32-Year-Old man with persistent wrist pain. The New England Journal of Medicine, The New England Journal of Medicine, 379(25), 2385–2388.   


Peer Reviewed Book Chapters  


Martinez, C., Talavera, C., Magaña Lopez, M., & Holmes, S. M. Anthropology of inequality &  precarity. In SAGE Handbook for Cultural Anthropology, edited by Lene Pedersen and  Lisa Cliggett, pp. 447-465. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publishing.


Organista, K., Marcia, L., Martinez, C., Alcala, M., & Ramirez, J. Undocumented Latino  migrant day laborers in the San Francisco Bay Area: Psychosocial, economic, and  political consequences. In The Immigrant Other: Lived Experiences in a Transnational World, edited by Rich Furman, Greg Lamphear, and Douglas Epps, pp. 90-106. New  York: Columbia University Press.   


Encyclopedia and Bibliography Entries


Martinez, C. and Holmes, S. M. Health and social stratification. Oxford Bibliographies in Anthropology. Ed. John Jackson. New York: Oxford University Press, April 2019. 


Non-refereed Articles & Reports


Martinez, C., Altenberg, N., Casas, J., and Parmenter, I. Unido/xs Contra la Sobredosis (United  against Overdose): A Needs Assessment Report from the San Francisco Harm Reduction  for Spanish and Maya Speaking Communities Project (2021-2022). San Francisco AIDS  Foundation and the National Harm Reduction Coalition.


Martinez, C. Prophylactic Violence: Title 42 and the re-medicalization of the southern border.  Hot Spots Series, Fieldsights. October 19.


Martinez, C. Forging a new body politics. Cosmologics Magazine: A Project of the Science,  Religion and Culture Program at Harvard Divinity School. Fall 2018 Issue.


Martinez, C. Silent massacre: The politics of chronic kidney disease. Berkeley Review of  Latin American Studies. Fall 2017 – Winter 2018 Issue.


Martinez, C. El Salvador's dance between development and displacement. NACLA Report on  the Americas. Volume 46, No. 1 (2013): pp. 70-73.


Book Reviews


Martinez, C. and Holmes, S. M. Review of They Leave Their Kidneys in the Fields, by Sarah  Bronwen Horton. Anthropological Quarterly, Volume 91, No. 3 (2018): pp. 1142–1145. 


Newspaper & Media Articles   


Martinez, C., Guzman, L., and Zepeda, J. SF Chronicle’s “Honduran Drug Dealers” Series Fuels Xenophobia. Filter Magazine. (July 21, 2023)


Martinez, C. Biden promised to fix our asylum process. He hasn’t. San Francisco Chronicle.  (July 17, 2023)


Martinez, C., Guzman, L., and Zepeda, J. No, deporting undocumented immigrants won’t solve the fentanyl crisis. San Francisco Chronicle. (March 29, 2023) 2021   


Martinez, C. Bordering on Hope. El Tecolote. (April 23, 2021). (Award winner, San Francisco  Press Club 45th Annual Greater Bay Area Journalism Award)