Ph.D. 2012 Columbia University (with distinction)
M.A. 2003 Columbia University
B.A. 1998 Appalachian State University
Areas of Research:
Politics and affect, sovereignty and law, psychoanalysis and history, borders and immigration, incarceration and surveillance, ethnographic methods, media theory, and fictocriticism; Honduras, Latin America, and the Philippines.
Dr. Carter is a sociocultural anthropologist interested in criminality, aesthetics, and politics, particularly in Honduras, where cartel violence and state corruption has forced tens of thousands to flee the country as refugees and undocumented migrants. While popular and scholarly analysis often point to gang communities as a singular cause of forced migration, Carter's research looks back to the mid-2000s when gangs in northern Central America -- scrambling to survive state violence and mass incarceration -- redefined popular notions of law, beauty, and violence. Carter's first book, Gothic Sovereignty: Street Gangs and Statecraft in Honduras (University of Texas Press, 2022), is an innovative ethnography that traces the evolution of gangs from small, neighborhood groups to members of hegemonic cartels. The book begins with the story of a thirteen-year-old gang member accused in the murder of an undercover DEA agent, to ask how the nation’s seductive criminal underworld has transformed the lives of young people. Carter then widens the lens to describe a history of imperialism and corruption that shaped this underworld—from Cold War counterinsurgency to the “War on Drugs” to the near-impunity of white-collar crime—as he follows local gangs who embrace new trades in the illicit economy. Gothic Sovereignty describes the gangs’ transformation from neighborhood groups to sprawling criminal societies, even in the National Penitentiary, where they have become political as much as criminal communities. The book reveals not only how the revolutionary potential of gangs was lost when they merged with powerful cartels but also how close analysis of criminal communities enables profound reflection on the economic, legal, and existential discontents of globalization in late liberal nation-states.
Carter is now finalizing a second book on ethnographic methods, composed as a handbook for teachers and students engaged in field-based research. His work has been supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Columbia University, Appalachian State University, and the Claassen Research Enhancement Award in the Appstate Department of Anthropology.
(n.d.) “Criminal Power and Impunity in Honduras” in Violence in Las Américas, ed. Victoria Sanford. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. (forthcoming)
(2021) “States of Emergency: Gangs, Walter Benjamin, and the Challenge to Modern Sovereignty.” In Routledge Handbook of Critical Gang Studies, eds. David Brotherton and Rafa Gude. New York: Routledge Press.
(2021) “The Fire Next Time: Gangs and the Apocalyptic Image in Honduras.” In Carceral Community in Latin America: Troubling Prison Worlds in 21st Century, eds. Andrés Antillano, Sacha Darke, Luís Dunno Gottberg, and Chris Garces. London: Palgrave Press.
(2020) "Fugitive Horizons and the Arts of Security in Honduras.” In Futureproof: Security Aesthetics and the Urban Imaginary, eds. Daniel Goldstein, Asher Ghertner, and Hudson McFann, 114-133. Durham: Duke University Press.
(2019) “Introduction to Monstrosity” co-authored with Christina Sornito. Journal of Historical Sociology 32, no. 1: 3-6.
(2019) "Carceral Kinship: Future Families of the Late Leviathan," in Special Issue of Journal of Historical Sociology, "Modern Monsters: Studies at the Perimeters of Humanity," eds. Jon H. Carter and Christina Verano Carter, 32(1):26-37.
(2019) "Revolution Betrayed." Hot Spots. Fieldsights, January 23. https://culanth.org/fieldsights/1638-revolution-betrayed
(2018) "Ex-Situ: (Un)Making Space Out of Place," in Capacious Journal, eds. Yoke-Sum Wong and Craig Campbell, exhibition in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, August 21.
(2017) "Neoliberal Penology and Criminal Finance in Honduras." Prison Service Journal, Volume 229.
(2017) "Mass Incarceration, Co-Governance, and Prison Reform in Honduras," in North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), Volume 49, Issue 3.
(2016) "A Community Far Afield: Black Mountain College and the Southern Estrangement of the Avant-Garde," in The Bohemian South, eds. Lindsay Freeman and Shawn Bingham. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
(2015) Review of God's Gangs in Central America, by Edward Orozco. PoLAR (Political and Legal Anthropology Review).
(2014) "Gothic Sovereignty: Gangs and Criminal Community in a Honduran Prison." South Atlantic Quarterly, Vol. 113(3).
(2014) Invited Review of Homies and Hermanos: God and Gangs in Central America, by Robert Brenneman. American Anthropologist, Vol. 116(1).
(2012) "Tears of the Damned: On the Prison Fire in Comayagua, Honduras." Anthropology News (March 24 online edition), "Media Notes."
Title: Associate Professor
Department: Department of Anthropology
Email address: Email me
Phone: (828) 262-6380
Fax: (828) 262-2982