Robin Reineke

About Robin Reineke

Robin C. Reineke, PhD is Assistant Research Social Scientist in Anthropology at the University of Arizona’s Southwest Center. Her research centers on the social processes of forensic human identification and disappearance in the southern Arizona borderlands. Early on in her research for this project, Reineke identified an unmet need for thousands of families of missing migrants—they could not easily report a missing loved one on the border, and hence, data that could identify the dead was not making it to forensic scientists. This compelled her to found the Missing Migrant Project in 2006, and then co-found the Colibrí Center for Human Rights in 2013. Colibrí is a nonprofit family advocacy organization working to end death and suffering on the US-Mexico border by working closely with both forensic scientists and families of the missing. Reineke’s professional story is one of working at the boundaries—between the U.S., and Mexico, between the disciplines of cultural anthropology and forensic anthropology, and between the academic and nonprofit sectors. From Seattle, Washington, Reineke received a BA in anthropology from Bryn Mawr College, and a Master’s and Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Arizona. Her work has been featured in the BBC, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Economist, The Nation, and the documentary film, Who Is Dayani Cristal? She was awarded the Institute for Policy Studies’ Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award and Echoing Green’s Global Fellowship in 2014.


Research Interests

Global migration; forensics; surveillance; humanitarianism; immigration; U.S.-Mexico border


Border Forensis: Evidence of Crimes and Histories of Restoration in the Sonoran Desert

Health Risks and Coping Strategies in the Families of Disappeared Border Crossers, with Maria Elena Ramos, Rebecca Crocker, supported by the PIMSA Program at UC Berkeley, School of Public Health

Selected Publications

2019:  “Necroviolence and Postmortem Care Along the U.S.-Mexico Border,” in The Border and Its Bodies, edited by Thomas Sheridan and Randall McGuire, forthcoming University of Arizona Press, (R. Reineke)

2017: Temporal Patterns of Mexican Migrant Genetic Ancestry: Implications for Identification. American Anthropologist, 119: 193–208. (Hughes, C. E., Algee-Hewitt, B. F. B., Reineke, R., Clausing, E. and Anderson, B. E.,)

2016: Naming the Dead: Identification and Ambiguity Along the U.S.-Mexico Border. ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global - ProQuest (Dissertation). The University of Chicago. (R. Reineke)

2016: Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains at the United States–Mexico Border. In Fatal Journeys 2: Identification and Tracing of Dead and Missing Migrants. International Organization for Migration (IOM).  (R. Reineke)

2016: Los Desaparecidos de la frontera: The missing of the border. In: R Rubio-Goldsmith, C Fernández, J Finch, and A Masterson-Algar (eds) Migrant Deaths in the Arizona Desert: La vida no vale nada. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. (R. Reineke)

2014: “Migrant deaths in the Americas.” In Fatal Journeys: Tracking Lives Lost During Migration edited by the International Organization for Migration. (R. Reineke and D. Martinez)

2014: “Structural Violence and Migrant Deaths in Southern Arizona: Data from the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, 1990-2013.” Journal of Migration and Human Security. JMHS Volume 2 Number 4 (2014): 257-286. (D. Martinez and R. Reineke)

2013: A Continued Humanitarian Crisis at the Border: Undocumented Border Crosser Deaths Recorded by the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, 1990 – 2012. Report Published by the Binational Migration Institute, June. (Martinez, Daniel, Robin Reineke, Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith, Bruce E. Anderson, Gregory L. Hess, Bruce O. Parks,)

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Contact Information

Robin Reineke
Assistant Research Social Scientist
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

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