The 2023-2024 AnthroGuide is the last print version. Edits for graduate programs are due July 31, 2023.

Melissa Gauthier

Primary Field
Cultural Anthropology
Assistant Teaching Professor
Assistant Teaching Professor, University of Victoria, Department of Anthropology
Knowledge / Expertise
Interest/Specialty Areas 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
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Geographic Areas of Expertise International
Western Hemisphere