Rebecca Galemba

Rebecca Galemba

Associate Professor

  • Faculty

What I do

Through research, teaching, and community-engaged work, I draw on interdisciplinary approaches to enhance the public good and contribute to studies of social inequality in Latin America and the US. I engage students directly in research inside and outside of the classroom to prepare students to become active, critical, and reflective agents of social change around the world.

Professional Biography

I am an anthropologist who studies the intersections of globalization, illicit markets, migration, security, and labor in Mexico, Central America, and the U.S.
I teach graduate and undergraduate courses on Qualitative Research Methodologies, Cultures of Development, Migration, and Illicit Markets.


  • Ph.D., Anthropology, Brown University, 2009
  • MA, Anthropology, Brown University, 2005
  • BA, Latin America, Latino, and Caribbean Studies, Dartmouth College, 2003

Professional Affiliations

  • American Anthropological Association
  • Latin American Studies Association
  • International Studies Association
  • Guatemala Scholars Network
  • Society for Applied Anthropology
  • Society for Economic Anthropology


My first book, Contraband Corridor: Making a Living at the Mexico-Guatemala Border (Stanford Press 2017) examines how free trade and border security policies constrain and criminalize local livelihoods, as well as how ordinary people transform relations between borders, the state, and transnational commerce.
My second book, Laboring for Justice: The Fight Against Wage Theft in an American City (Stanford Press 2023) depicts an ongoing community-engaged project to document and address wage theft and advance immigrant and workers' rights through research, policy advocacy, and activism alongside workers, students, and community partners. Nearly 100 students have worked on the project since 2013. You can learn about the project and students' collaborations on the DU Just Wages site:
For my work on the DU Just Wages project, I received the 2018 Public Good Faculty of the Year award from the University of Denver and the 2022 Setha M. Low Award for Engaged Anthropology from the American Anthropological Association.

At DU, I also co-direct the new Center for Immigration Policy & Research,

Areas of Research



Galemba, R., Dingeman, K., & Devries, K. (2018). Migrant Contingency Politics at the Mexico-Guatemala Border. American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting. San Jose, CA: American Anthropological Association.
Galemba, R. (2016). "He used to be a pollero': Smugglers and the Securitization of Migration at the Mexico-Guatemala Border. Critical Approaches Irregular Migration Facilitation: Dismantling the Human Smuggler Narrative. Florence, Italy.
Galemba, R., & Kuhn, R. (2018). A New Approach to Street-Corner Surveys of Day Laborers in Denver, Colorado. . Population Association of America. Denver, CO: PAA.
Galemba, R. (2016). 'Phantom Commerce': Smuggling Economies, Regional Development, and (In)Security at the Mexico- Guatemala Border. American Political Science Association. Philadelphia, PA.
Galemba, R. (2019). Crimmigration as Assemblage when Everyone is a Priority. Society for Applied Anthropology Meetings. Portland, Oregon: Society for Applied Anthropology.


  • Public Good Faculty of the Year Award, CCESL and Pioneer Awards
  • Best Dissertation Prize, New England Council of Latin American Studies
  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Fellowship, Brown University and NICHD