Edward Francis Small Lecture Series Presents Dr. Robtel Neajai Pailey

Title: Development, (Dual) Citizenship and Its Discontents in Africa

Abstract: Does dual citizenship reproduce inequalities? Dr. Robtel Neajai Pailey grapples with this question and more in her engaging monograph Development, (Dual) Citizenship and Its Discontents in Africa: The Political Economy of Belonging to Liberia (Cambridge University Press, 2021). Hers is the first book to evaluate domestic and diasporic constructions and practices of Liberian citizenship across space and time and their myriad implications for development. In this presentation drawing on rich life histories from over two hundred in-depthinterviews in West Africa, Europe, and North America, Pailey uses a contested dual citizenship bill, introduced in Liberia in 2008 but never passed, as an entry point to ask for broader questions about how citizenship is differentiated by class, gender, race, ethnicity, etc., and whether dual citizenship actually reproduces inequalities. She develops a new model for conceptualizing citizenship within the context of ‘crisis’-affected states while offering a compelling critique of the neoliberal framing of diasporas and donors as the panacea to post-war reconstruction.

Bio: Dr. Robtel Neajai Pailey is an Assistant Professor in International Social and Public Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. A Liberian scholar-activist working at the intersection of Critical Development Studies, Critical African Studies, and Critical Race Studies, she centers her research on how structural transformation is conceived and contested by local, national, and transnational actors from ‘crisis’-affected regions of the so-called Global South. Pailey’s current book project, Africa’s ‘Negro’ Republics, examines how slavery, colonialism, and neoliberalism in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, respectively, have shaped the adoption and maintenance of clauses barring non-blacks from obtaining citizenship in Liberia and Sierra Leone. She completed BA degrees in African Studies and English Literature at Howard University, an MSc in African Studies at the University of Oxford, and a Ph.D. in Development Studies at SOAS, University of London.