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Department of


Greg Prieto, PhD

Assistant Professor, Sociology

Greg Prieto joined the Sociology faculty at the University of San Diego in Fall 2013. He teaches primarily in the Law, Crime & Justice concentration. Professor Prieto's research interests lie at the intersection of race, racism, and legal violence. His primary focuses are Mexican immigration, police and Border Patrol, and social movements.


Professor Prieto earned his B.A. in Sociology from Whittier College in 2005, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2013.

Scholarly and Creative Work

Professor Prieto's first book project is comparative ethnographic study of two Mexican immigrant communities in California as they negotiate and collectively contest the precariousness of life lived in the shadows of detention, deportation, and dispossession. Broadly, he concluded that immigrants’ legal vulnerability prompts an “inward turn” that functions both as a protection from deportation and as a barrier to participation in social movement organization and wider civic participation. When immigrant activism does occur, local political climate shapes the tenor of immigrants’ claims and the strategies used to pursue them. This project was funded, in part, by the National Science Foundation.

Separately, he has conducted ethnographic research with Latino Border Patrol Agents and local 'gang suppression' police.
His work appears in the peer-reviewed publications The American Sociologist, Mobilization, and is forthcoming in Latino Studies. Book chapters appear in the edited volumes The Nation and Its Peoples: Citizens, Denizens, Migrants (Park and Gleenson, 2014, Routledge) and Beginning a Career in Academic: A Guide for Graduate Students of Color (Mack, Watson, Camacho, 2014, Routledge). The National Science Foundation, the UC Center for New Racial Studies, and the USD Office of Undergraduate Research have generously funded his work.

Future work includes a small scale survey of deported migrants living in 'El Bordo' or the Tijuana River Canal that runs the length of the border between Tijuana and California. Undergraduate students and the Tijuana-based NGO Fundación GAIA are key collaborators on this project.

Teaching Interests

Drawing on years of community work with various organizations in Santa Barbara, Professor Prieto is committed to linking academic inquiry to community engagement. He seeks to bring the voices and experiences of those under study into the classroom and to bring students into the community, shrinking the gap between research and the subjects from whom that research is derived. He believes that student diversity is key to enriching undergraduate education. He teaches Introduction to Sociology, Quantitative Methods, Sexualities, Criminalizing Immigration, and Law & Society.