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Thomas Ward

Associate Professor (Teaching) of Anthropology

Contact Information
Phone: (213) 740-8222
Office: GFS 120

Curriculum Vitae


Ph.D. Anthropology (Psycho-cultural Studies), University of California - Los Angeles, 1987

Postdoctoral Training

Post-doctoral Fellow, Department of Medical Anthropology, University of California, San Francisco , 1987-1988   

Academic Appointment, Affiliation, and Employment History

Non-Tenure Track Appointments

Associate Professor (Teaching) , University of Southern California, 2013-2014   

Other Employment

Court Certified Expert Witness on Gangs, Criminal & Immigration Courts, US, 09/16/1999-  

Description of Research

Summary Statement of Research Interests

Street gangs, with a particular focus on Central American immigrant youth, conducted research since 1993. Also interested in Tibetan Bön Buddhism and Dzögchen (meditation), conducted research since 1995. Participated in a dark retreat (50 days) in June-July, 2009. Taught meditation class at a gang prevention/intervention program in Pico-Union district (Summer, 2013).

Research Keywords

Street Gangs, Urban Youth Gangs, Transnational Gangs, Central American Gangs, MS-13 Gang, Mara 18, Tibetan Buddhism, Bön, Dzögchen, meditation.

Research Specialties

Street gangs, transnational gangs, Tibetan Bön Buddhism.

Conferences and Other Presentations

Other Presentations

"Introduction to Meditation", Gang Prevention and Intervention Program, , Aztecs Rising, Leonard Rivas, Program Director , Los Angeles, CA, 2013-2014   
"Street Gangs and Communities", Anthropology Lecture Series, Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Saddleback College, Mission Viejo, California, 2012-2013   
"Central American Gang Members", Colloquium Series of the Princeton Center for Migration and Development, Department of Sociology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, Spring 2013   
"Gangs and Juvenile Justice", USC Law Class, Professor Heidi Rummel, University of Southern California, USC Law School, USC LAW SCHOOL, Spring 2013   
"Gangs in Los Angeles", Trojan League of Los Angeles, Trojan League, Faculty Club, University of Southern California, Spring 2013   
"Wisdom and Compassion", What Matters to Me & Why, Office of Religious Life, USC, USC, Ground Zero, 2009-2010   
"Refleciones sobre ethnografia con mareros", Workshop on Anti-gang policies, University of Utrecht, San Salvador, El Salvador, 2008-2009   

Other Research

Conducted a 50-day dark retreat (meditation in solitary confinement) in Crestone, Colorado, June-July, 2009., 2008-2009   
Consultant, Study of MS-13 gang in US and El Salvador, conducted by Cheryl Maxson, Dept. of Criminology, Law & Society, UC Irvine., 03/27/2006-03/27/2007  



Ward, T. W. (2012). Gangsters Without Borders: An Ethnography of a Salvadoran Street Gang. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Service to the University

Media, Alumni, and Community Relations

Guest lecture and book signing, Saddleback College, Spring 2013   
Guest lecture, Pasadena Senior Citizen Center, Pasadena, Spring 2013   
Guest speaker, Colloquium Series of the Princeton Center for Migration and Development, Princeton University, Spring 2013   
Guest, Inside Story Americas, Gang Truce in Honduras, Al Jazeera TV, Spring 2013   
Guest speaker, Panelist, "Security in Central America: Outlook and Options," (Vecinos Lecture Series), Americas Society/Council of the Americas and the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, Rice University, Houston, TX, Fall 2012   
Public Talk- What Matters to Me and Why? Trojan Ground Zero, USC, 2009-2010   
"Building a home in LA, City of Angels and AK-47s," The Age (Australia), April 19., 2007-2008   

Other Service to the University

"Gangs and Juvenile Justice," guest lecture, USC Law Class, Professor Heidi Rummel, Spring 2013   
Guest Speaker, USC Trojan League, lecture on Gangsters without Borders, Spring 2013   

Service to the Profession

Review Panels

The Advancement Project, Anti-gang Initiative, 2007-2008   

Media, Alumni, and Community Relations

"Bill Aims to Stop Gang Violence," Callie Schweitzer, Daily Trojan, February 5., 2007-2008   
"Cross-Cultural Uses of Urine," MANswers, Spike TV, November 11., 2007-2008   
"Female Juvenile Offenders," Fox Television News, October 12., 2007-2008   
"On Culture," Anthropology Series, Coast Telecourse Systems, March 10., 2007-2008   
"Race-Based Gang Violence," Rogelio Mora, Telemundo, March 6., 2007-2008   
"Summit on Transnational Gangs," Annenberg TV News, March 5., 2007-2008   
"Transnational Gangs," Frank Stoltze, KPCC Radio, August 3., 2007-2008   
Guest Speaker, "Gang Violence Awareness Panel," Occidental College, April 21., 2007-2008   
Sponsor, Media Training for Gang Prevention/Intervention Workers, U.S.C., July 22., 2007-2008   

Other Service to the Profession

Served as an expert witness in three asylum cases involving youth who were fearing persecution from gang members in Central America. , 2008-2009   
Participant, The Eurogang Conference, IX, Prof. Malcolm Klein, Organizer, University of Southern California, L.A., May 18-21., 2007-2008   
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