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Gema Santamaria

Ph.D. candidate in sociology and historical studies, New School for Social Research

Residency: September 2014 – June 2015

Research Project: Lynching Violence in Twentieth-Century Mexico: State Formation, Vigilantism and Local Communities in Puebla

Research Interests: political sociology, sociology of crime, state formation in post-revolutionary Mexico, vigilantism and self-help justice, violence and citizen security in Latin America

Public Talk: “Lynching Violence in Twentieth-Century Mexico: State Formation, Vigilantism and Local Communities in Puebla” on April 29, 2015


Gema Santamaria is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology and historical studies at the New School for Social Research, specializing in violence, crime and vigilantism in Mexico and Central America. She served as the main advisor for the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report for Latin America 2013 - 2014, “Citizen Security with a Human Face: Evidence and proposals for Latin America.”

Santamaria received her bachelor’s degree in international relations from the Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM), and holds a master’s degree in gender and social policy from the London School of Economics as well as a M.A. in sociology from the New School. She has been a Chevening Scholar, a Fulbright Scholar and a recipient of various research fellowships including the Janey Fellowship, the New School Dissertation Fellowship and a CONACYT fellowship.

Santamaria has carried out ethnographic work on gangs in Mexico and Central America, and archival research on vigilantism in 20th century Mexico. Her thesis deals with the history of lynching and extrajudicial violence in 20th century Mexico, and her work has been published in journals and magazines such as Migration Studies, ReVista (Harvard Review of Latin America), Americas Quarterly and Foreign Affairs en Latinoamerica.


USMEX hosts top human rights activist from Mexico for two-day conference
Jan. 22, 2015, GPS News features USMEX fellow Gema Santamaria
(Related link: UC San Diego News)

UCSD Hosts Security and Human Rights Conference
Jan. 19, 2015, The UC San Diego Guardian features USMEX fellows Carlos Vilalta and Gema Santamaria

Rechazan elecciones en Guerrero
Jan. 16, 2015, Tijuana Press features USMEX fellow Gema Santamaria (Spanish)

Recognizing Refugees from Mexico and Central America
Dec. 10 - 12, 2014, USD Trans-Border Institute hosts USMEX fellows Ana Isabel Garcia and Gema Santamaria
(Related link: PDF agenda)

IX Seminario de Reforma del Estado - Mesa ‘Amenazas a la gobernabilidad’
Nov. 28, 2014, Escuela de Gobierno PUCP features USMEX fellow Gema Santamaria (Spanish, video)

‘Ayotzinapa nos pone frente al espejo’
Nov. 26, 2014, Confidencial (Nicaragua) interviews USMEX fellow Gema Santamaria (Spanish)

Linchamientos y sus genealogias en el nuevo conflicto social: entrevista a Gema Santamaria
Nov. 26, 2014, Lobo Suelto interviews USMEX fellow Gema Santamaria (Spanish)

Mexico despierta: antes y despues de Ayotzinapa
Nov. 24, 2014, Confidencial (Nicaragua) publishes article by USMEX fellow Gema Santamaria (Spanish)

43 deaths and a cry to kill corruption
Nov. 22, 2014, UT-San Diego cites USMEX fellows Alfonso Hernandez-Valdez and Gema Santamaria

Mexico must fight war against corruption
Nov. 14, 2014, UT-San Diego publishes op-ed by USMEX fellows Carlos Vilalta, Victor Remigio Martinez Cantu and Gema Santamaria

A passion for supporting cutting-edge research
Sept. 12, 2014, GPS News cites USMEX fellow Gema Santamaria