Robtel Neajai Pailey

Robtel Neajai Pailey is a Liberian scholar-activist with more than 20 years of combined personal and professional experiences in Africa, Europe and North America. Her core areas of research expertise include the political economy of development, migration, conflict, post-war recovery, governance and race. She has conducted multi-sited fieldwork in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Denmark, Ghana, India, Lebanon, Liberia, Niger, Sierra Leone, Somaliland, the United Kingdom and United States.

Robtel is author of the monograph Development, (Dual) Citizenship and Its Discontents in Africa: The Political Economy of Belonging to Liberia (Cambridge University Press, 2021), which won both the 2022 African Politics Conference Group (APCG) Best Book Award and the 2023 African Studies Association of Africa (ASAA) Pius Adesanmi Memorial Award for Excellence in African Writing as well as contributed to the passage of Liberia’s dual citizenship law. Her research has also been published in scholarly journals including African Affairs, Review of African Political Economy, Development and Change, Third World Quarterly, Democratization, Migration Studies and Citizenship Studies; as well as in edited volumes such as The Essential Guide to Critical Development Studies (2021), Oxford Encyclopedia of African Politics (2020), Leadership in Post-colonial Africa: Trends Transformed by Independence (2014) and From the Slave Trade to ‘Free’ Trade: How Trade Undermines Democracy and Justice in Africa (2007), amongst others. An increasingly sought-after thought leader and public scholar, she has provided expert commentary for radio, print, television and online news media across the globe.

Robtel obtained BA degrees in African Studies and English Literature from Howard University in 2004, an MSc in African Studies from the University of Oxford in 2007 and a PhD in Development Studies from SOAS, University of London, in 2014. Previously an Ibrahim Leadership Fellow at the African Development Bank Group and Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Oxford, she currently serves as Assistant Professor in International Social and Public Policy at The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).