Headshot of Tony Payan

Tony Payan

Françoise and Edward Djerejian Fellow for Mexico Studies | Director, Center for the U.S. and Mexico


Tony Payan, Ph.D., is the Françoise and Edward Djerejian Fellow for Mexico Studies and director of the Center for the U.S. and Mexico at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. He is also a professor of social sciences at the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico. Between 2001 and 2015, Payan was a professor of political science at The University of Texas at El Paso.

Payan’s research focuses primarily on border studies, particularly the U.S.-Mexico border. His work centers largely on issues of borderlands as areas of habitation, including the various conditions that affect life in liminal spaces. This includes cross-border flows, both legal and illegal, of people and contraband, as well as border governance. He also researches problems affecting the U.S.-Mexico relationship. Payan has authored two books, “Cops, Soldiers and Diplomats: Understanding Agency Behavior in the War on Drugs” (2006) and “The Three U.S.-Mexico Border Wars: Drugs, Immigration and Homeland Security” (2016). He has also co-authored a book tentatively titled “Una Guerra Improvisada: Historias Personales y Política Pública en la Guerra contra las Drogas bajo la Administración de Felipe Calderón” (“An Improvised War: Personal Stories and Public Policy in the War on Drugs during the Felipe Calderón Administration”) (forthcoming). Additionally, he has co-edited the following books: 1) “Gobernabilidad e Ingobernabilidad en la Región Paso del Norte”(“Governance and Ungovernability in the North Paso Region,” 2004); 2) “Human Rights Along the U.S.-Mexico Border: Gendered Violence and Insecurity” (2009); 3) “De Soldaderas a Activistas: La mujer chihuahuense en los albores del Siglo XXI” (“From Soldaderas to Activist: The Chihuahuense Woman at the dawn of the XXI Century,” 2011); 4) “A War that Can’t Be Won: Binational Perspectives on the War on Drugs” (2013); 5) “Undecided Nation: Political Gridlock and the Immigration Crisis” (2014); 6) "Reforma Energética y Estado de Derecho en México,” (“The Rule of Law and Mexico’s Energy Reform,” 2016); 7) “The Future of U.S.-Mexico Relations: Strategic Foresight” (2020); and 8) “Binational Commons: Institutional Development and Governance on the U.S.-Mexico Border” (2020). He is currently working on another volume tentatively titled “El Estado de los partidos políticos y el futuro de la democracia en México” (“The State of Political Parties and the Future of Democracy in Mexico”) (forthcoming). In addition, he has authored numerous book chapters, monographies and journal articles.

Payan has served on several boards, including the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority in El Paso, Texas, and the Plan Estratégico de Juárez in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico. He is a member of the Greater Houston Partnerships Immigration Task Force and the Mexico Energy Task Force. He previously served as president of the Association of Borderlands Studies between 2009 and 2010.

Payan earned a B.A. in philosophy and classical languages from the University of Dallas and an MBA from the University of Dallas Graduate School of Management. He received a doctorate degree in international relations from Georgetown University in 2001.

Contact at tony.payan@rice.edu or 713-348-3762.