skip to primary navigationskip to content

Dr José Ciro Martínez

Dr  José  Ciro Martínez

Trinity College


I grew up in  San Juan, Puerto Rico and studied Political Science at Williams College (BA, magna cum laude) after which I travelled the world on a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. I took my MPhil (2012) and PhD (2018) in Politics from the University of Cambridge (King’s College). I have held visiting research posts at the Università degli Studi di Siena and the Instituto de Estudios Sociales Avanzados in Córdoba, Spain.

I began a four-year Title A Research Fellowship (JRF) at Trinity College in October 2018.

Research Interests

I am a comparative political scientist. My primary research interests lie in the politics of food, contention and state formation in the Modern Middle East. I am presently adapting my doctoral dissertation into a monograph. Provisionally entitled ‘The Politics of Bread: Performing the State in Hashemite Jordan,’ the project wrestles with theories of performativity to dissect the ways in which welfare provision (in the form of food) works to entrench the state in everyday life. The analysis builds upon eighteen months of fieldwork, twelve of which were spent observing and working in three different bakeries in the Jordanian capital, Amman. Fieldwork was funded by the American Center of Oriental Research, the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, the Council of American Overseas Research Centers and the Fulbright Program.


I have recently collaborated on a joint research project with a colleague at the University of California, Berkeley on subsidized bread and governance during the Syrian conflict (2011-2016). I am also in the process of designing my second major research project: ‘Sovereign Haze: Hashish, Trafficking and the Illicit in the Western Mediterranean.’

In addition to my scholarly work, I occasionally write for a general audience. This work has appeared in Al Jazeera, Jacobin, Jadaliyya, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs Latinoamérica, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and the Times Literary Supplement.

Key Publications

“Site of Resistance or Apparatus of Acquiescence? Tactics at the Bakery,” Middle East Law and Governance 10:2 (August 2018): 160-184.

“Stifling Stateness: The Assad Regime's Campaign Against Rebel Governance,” Security Dialogue 49:4 (August 2018): 235-253. (Co-Written with Brent Eng).

“Leavened Apprehensions: Bread Subsidies and Moral Economies in Hashemite Jordan,” International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 50:2 (May 2018): 173-193.

“Leavening Neoliberalization’s Uneven Pathways: Bread, Governance and Political Rationalities in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” Mediterranean Politics 22:4 (October 2017): 464-483.

“Struggling to Perform the State: The Politics of Bread in the Syrian Civil War,” International Political Sociology 11:2 (June 2017): 130-147. (Co-Written with Brent Eng).

“Jordan’s Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The Production of Feeble Political Parties and the Perceived Perils of Democracy,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 44:3 (July 2017): 356-372.

“The Unintended Consequences of Emergency Food Aid: Neutrality, Sovereignty and Politics in the Syrian Civil War, 2012-2015,” International Affairs 92:1 (January 2016): 153-173. (Co-Written with Brent Eng).

“Starvation, Submission and Survival: Syria’s War through the Prism of Food,” Middle East Report 273 (2014): 28-32.

“Bread is Life: The Intersection of Welfare and Emergency Aid in Jordan,” Middle East Report 272 (2014): 30-35.