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Jonah Rubin


Jonah Rubin

Associate Professor of Anthropology/Sociology; Co-Chair of Peace and Justice

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999



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Associate Professor of Anthropology-Sociology; Co-Chair of Peace and Justice

Jonah RubinGeneral Interests

My research looks at how adapt globally-circulating human rights technologies and discourses to reckon with violent pasts. My writing is based on over 20-months of ethnographic research with Spain's historical memory movement, a loose network of NGOs dedicated to locating, scientifically exhuming, and honoring the over 130,000 civilians who were killed during the Spanish Civil War and ensuing Franco dictatorship. In this context, exhumations do more than just generate legal evidence about past crimes. As they situate the dead within transnational scientific and human rights discourses, memory activists enable dead persons to claim certain rights from the state and make ethical demands upon the living. In Spain, forensic medicine is a method for reconsidering the boundaries and ethics that define post-conflict citizenship.

In the classroom, I emphasize experiential learning strategies in order to instill students with the capacity to speak to real world problems. Students in my classes put readings to work by conducting ethnographies, analyzing films, and interrogating current events. Ultimately, our goal in the classroom is to develop not only the ability to understand the world we encounter, but also the capacity to change it.

Years at Knox: 2017 to present


Ph.D., Anthropology, 2016, The University of Chicago

M.A., Anthropology, 2009, The University of Chicago

B.A., Latin American Studies Program, 2006, The University of Chicago

Teaching Interests

Science and Technology Studies; Political Anthropology; Anthropology of Crime; Human Rights; Memory Studies; and Medicine and the Body.

Selected Professional Accomplishments


Honorable Mention. Science and Human Rights Student Essay Competition. The American Association for the Advancement of Science. "Spain's Laboratory of Hope and Dignity: Scientific Exhumations and the Making of Dead Citizens" (2015).

William Rainey Harper / Provost Dissertation Year Fellowship. The University of Chicago (2014).

Ignacio Martín-Baró Human Rights Essay Prize. The University of Chicago. "Transitional Justice Against the State: Implications of the Local Interpretations of Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation." (2013).

Finalist. Society for the Anthropology of Europe Graduate Student Paper Prize. "‘They Are Not Just Objects, They Are Persons': The Agency of the Dead at Spanish Mass Grave Exhumations." (2013).

National Science Foundation Doctoral Research Improvement Grant (2010).

Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. Dissertation Fieldwork Grant (2010).


How Francisco Franco Governs from Beyond the Grave: An Infrastructural Approach to Memory Politics in contemporary Spain. Under Review. American Ethnologist. n.d.

How Not to Talk About Fake News. American Anthropologist, Public Anthropologies Section. March 30, 2017.

Aproximación al concepto de desaparecido: Reflexiones sobre El Salvador y España (On the Concept of the Disappeared: Reflections from El Salvador and Spain). Alteridades 25: 9-24, 2015. 

Technologies of the Afterlife: The Agency of the Dead at Spanish Mass Grave Exhumations. Anthropological Journal of European Cultures 24, no. 1: 141-49. doi:10.3167/ajec.2015.240111, 2015. 

Transitional Justice Against the State: Lessons from Spanish Civil Society Led Forensic Exhumations. International Journal of Transitional Justice 8, no. 1: 99-120. doi:10.1093/ijtj/ijt033, 2014.

Adjudicating the Salvadoran Civil War: Expectations of Law in Romagoza. PoLAR: The Political and Legal Anthropology Review 31, no. 2: 264-285. doi: 10.1111/j.1555-2934.2008.00025.x, 2008. 


"Remembering Oblivion: International Justice and the Impossibility of Historical Experience." Conference in Honor of Rosalind Shaw. Tufts University. March 3rd 2017.

"Addressing Student Concerns: 30 Years of Student Leadership - Strategically Moving Anthropology Forward." Roundtable. Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association. Denver, CO. November 20 2015.

"They are not objects, they are persons": The Agency of the Dead in Spanish Mass Graves Exhumations, Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association. Chicago, IL. November 20th - 24th 2013.

Hacía Nuevas Perspectivas sobre la Memoria y la Identidad, (Towards New Perspectives on Memory and Identity), XXXI Curso de Verano de la UPV-EHU. Donostia (San Sebastián), Basque Country, Spain. June 27th - 29th 2012.

El Deber de la Memoria ante la tentación al olvido: tendencias recientes en el campo de justicia transicional, (The Temptation to Forget, the Duty to Remember: Recent Trends in the Field of Transitional Justice). I Encuentro Internacional. De la dictadura a la democracia: Modelos de Transición y Derechos Humanos. Seville, Spain. June 22nd - 24th 2012.

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