Samuel Martinez


Samuel Martínez is a Cuban-born cultural anthropologist. In 2016, he was awarded the American Anthropological Association’s (AAA) President’s Award for outstanding service to the Association. He has served as Program Chair for the 2016 AAA Annual Meeting, been a member of the board of the American Ethnological Society (AES, 2010-2014), and organized the AES’ 2014 Spring Meeting in collaboration with the Society for Visual Anthropology. He has also served as Chair (2003-04) of the American Anthropological Association’s Committee for Human Rights.

At UConn, Martínez is director of El Instituto: Institute for Latina/o, Caribbean and Latin American Studies, and from 2013 to 2018 he served as director of undergraduate programs for the Human Rights Institute. He has held a joint appointment with El Instituto since 2012.

His main area of research expertise is the migrant and minority rights mobilizations of undocumented Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent. Martínez contributed an extensive expert affidavit in support of the landmark case of Yean and Bosico v. Dominican Republic presented before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2005. He is the author of two ethnographic monographs and several peer-reviewed articles on the migration and labor and minority rights of Haitian nationals and people of Haitian ancestry in the Dominican Republic. He is also editor of a contributory volume, International Migration and Human Rights (U California Press, 2009) and co-editor of three journal special issues.

In his current research and writing, he brings critical scrutiny to the writings of northern human rights monitors, journalists and social scientists about Haitian-ancestry people in the Dominican Republic. He is also writing a book on the discourse and visual culture of antislavery in the late 20th & early 21st centuries.

Area focus

The Caribbean, African diaspora, migration, human rights, modern slavery


(undergraduate) Anthropology through film, Human rights in Latin America, the Caribbean, Migration
(graduate) Globalization and transnational anthropology, Human Rights in a diverse world

Short Intensive Course:

2017    “Human Rights: Activism and Site-Specific Research.” Amsterdam Institute for Social Scientific Research, University of Amsterdam, 18-20 September.

Research Documents

With support from UConn’s Research Excellence Program and with co-PI Thomas Craemer (UConn Public Policy), Martínez is carrying out a content analysis of Dominican journalistic coverage of Haiti and Haitian immigration.

The research code book and databases of Dominican newspaper articles from the years 2013 through 2015 are publicly available.

Selected publications

Books and edited volumes:

2016 (with Cathy Schlund-Vials) Interrogating the Perpetrator: Violation, Culpability, and Human Rights. New York: Routledge (expanded version of a special issue of International Journal of Human Rights 19[5, 2015]).

2009 International Migration and Human Rights: The Global Repercussions of U.S. Policy. Berkeley: University of California Press, Global, Area, and International Archive, 11. (This book is also accessible as a free of charge Web download – 1st time users will be prompted to set up a free account and respond to a confirmation email)

2007 Decency and Excess: Global Aspirations and Material Deprivation on a Caribbean Sugar Plantation. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers.

1995 Peripheral Migrants: Haitians and Dominican Republic Sugar Plantations. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press.

Edited Journal Special Issues:
2015 (with Cathy Schlund-Vials) “Special Issue: Perpetratorhood.” International Journal of Human Rights 19(5).

2011 (with Kathryn Libal) “The Gender of Humanitarian Narrative.” Humanity 2(2).

2006 (with Charles V Carnegie) “Crossing Borders of Language and Culture.” Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism 19.

Recent Articles:

2018 “Upstreaming or Streamlining? Translating Social Movement Agenda into Legal Claims in Nepal and the Dominican Republic.” In Human Rights Transformation in an Unequal World. Tine Destrooper and Sally Engle Merry, editors. Pp.128-156. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

2017 (with Bridget Wooding) “El antihaitianismo en la República Dominicana ¿un giro biopolítico? (Anti-Haitianism in the Dominican Republic: A Biopolitical Turn?”) Migración y Desarrollo vol.15, no.28: 87-115 (

2017 “Peripheral Migrants: Haiti-Dominican Republic Mobilities in Caribbean Context.” In Global Latin(o) Americanos: Transoceanic Diasporas and Regional Migrations. Mark Overmyer-Velázquez and Enrique Sepúlveda, editors. Pp.71-94. New York: Oxford University Press.

2016 “A Postcolonial Indemnity? New Premises for International Solidarity with Haitian-Dominican Rights.” Iberoamericana. Nordic Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies 44(102): 173-93.

2015 “From Commoditizing to Commodifying Human Rights: Research on Forced Labor in Dominican Sugar Production.” Humanity 6(3): 387-409.

2014 “The Price of Confrontation: International Retributive Justice and the Struggle for Haitian-Dominican Rights.” In The Uses and Misuses of Human Rights: A Critical Approach to Advocacy. Pp.89-115. George Andreopoulos and Zehra Arat, editors. New York: Palgrave.

2013 “An Anthropologist among Human Rights Experts in Haiti and the Dominican Republic: Para-ethnographic Perspectives on Culture and Rights.” Australian Journal of Human Rights 19(1): 11-29.

2012 “Allegations Lost and Found: The Afterlife of Dominican Sugar Slavery.” Third World Quarterly 33(10): 1855-1870.

2011 “’Taking Better Account’: Contemporary Slavery, Gendered Narratives and the Feminization of Struggle.” Humanity 2(2): 277-303.

2011 “The Onion of Oppression: Haitians in the Dominican Republic.” In Geographies of the Haitian Diaspora. Regine O. Jackson, editor. Pp.51-70. New York: Routledge.

2010 “Excess: The Struggle for Expenditure on a Caribbean Sugar Plantation.” Current Anthropology 51(5): 609-28.

2009 “Toward an Anthropology of Excess: Wanting More (while Getting Less) On a Caribbean Global Periphery.” In Empirical Futures: Anthropologists and Historians Engage the Work of Sidney W. Mintz. George Baca, Aisha Khan and Stephan Palmié, editors. Pp.196-225. Durham: University of North Carolina Press.

Peer-Reviewed Reference Work:

2017    (with Catherine Buerger)        “Human Rights.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Anthropology. (Updated edition of an entry first published as sole author in 2013.) John L. Jackson, Jr., editor. New York: Oxford University Press,

Expert Affidavit:
2005 “Declaración pericial … en apoyo a … los peticionarios originales en Yean y Bosico v. República Dominicana.” (fully-referenced, 27 page report, prepared at invitation of Boalt Hall School of Law International Human Rights Law Clinic, presenting historical/social background testimony to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in support of the citizenship petition of the girls Dilcia Yean and Violeta Bosico versus the State of the Dominican Republic).