Melissa Gauthier

Melissa Gauthier
Associate Teaching Professor
Office: COR B240

PhD Concordia

Area of expertise

Economic anthropology, border studies, informal & illicit economies, cross-border trade, Mexico-U.S. Borderlands, Mexico, Yucatán

I am a cultural anthropologist who specializes in economic anthropology and border studies with particular attention to the intersections of culture and economy. My work is based primarily in Mexico and along the Mexico-United States border.

My main research focus is on informal cross-border trade, and involves analysis of state-society dynamics in a milieu marked by smuggling and corruption. As part of my interests in urban livelihoods and informal economies, I have conducted extensive fieldwork in Ciudad Juárez with Mexican cross-border traders involved in the “illegal” trade of American second-hand clothing between the United States and Mexico. The anthropology of international borders is central to my analysis of the interplay between state and society at the Mexico-U.S. border occurring via informal markets.

My ongoing research examines the role of cross-border traders in the construction and redefinition of international boundaries with a new emphasis on the Mexico-Belize border. Within this research frame, I have also been dealing with a wide range of transnational processes such as maquiladoras (and thus NAFTA), migration, human smuggling, drug trafficking, and other kinds of cross-border movements.

My teaching interests include economic anthropology, borders, migration, globalization, street economies in the Global South, consumption and Mexico.


  • Economic anthropology
  • Border studies
  • Informal and illicit economies
  • Cross-border trade
  • Mexico-U.S. Borderlands
  • Mexico
  • Yucatán


Fall 2023/Spring 2024

  • ANTH 200 Cultural and Social Anthropology
  • ANTH 260 Introduction to Anthropological Research

Selected publications

Articles and chapters

  • 2012 - Mexican Ant Traders in the El Paso/Ciudad Juarez Border Region: Tensions between Globalization, Securitization and New Mobility Regimes” in Gordon Mathews, Gustavo Lins Ribeiro and Carlos José Alba Vega (eds.), Globalization from Below: The World’s Other Economy. New York; London: Routledge.
  • 2010 - Used Clothing: 72-78, in the Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, edited by Joanne B. Eicher, Vol. 2, Latin America and the Caribbean, edited by Margot Blum Schevill. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • 2010 - Researching the Border’s Economic Underworld: The Fayuca Hormiga Trade in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands: 53-72, in Hastings Donnan and Thomas M. Wilson (eds.), Borderlands: Ethnographic Approaches to Security, Power and Identity. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
  • 2007 - The Cross-Border Trade of Used Clothing between the USA and Mexico: 95-116, in Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly (ed.), Borderlands: Comparing Border Security in North America and Europe. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press.
  • 2006 - Le Commerce Transfrontalier du Vêtement Usagé entre les États-Unis et le Mexique: Un Chapitre Sensoriel de la Biographie des Objets (Note de recherche) Anthropologie et Sociétés, vol. 30(3): 139-152.
  • 2006 - Fayuca Hormiga: The Cross-Border Trade of Used Clothing between the United States and Mexico: 305-322, in Victor Orozco (ed.), Chihuahua Hoy 2006: Visiones de su Historia, Economía, Política y Cultura,. Tomo IV. Mexico: Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez.