Dr Robtel Neajai Pailey | University of Oxford

Dr Robtel Neajai Pailey

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Oxford Department of International Development


Dr Pailey is a Liberian academic, activist and author of the forthcoming monograph Development, (Dual) Citizenship and Its Discontents in Africa: The Political Economy of Belonging to Liberia, as well as the anti-corruption children’s books Gbagba and Jaadeh!. At Oxford, she previously served as a senior researcher on the project Migrants in Countries in Crisis which examined the migration implications of crises in six countries - Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Lebanon, Libya, South Africa and Thailand. She is currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Department of International Development, where she conducts research on race, citizenship, 'South-South' migration and development cooperation in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Dr Pailey's core areas of research expertise include the political economy of development, migration, citizenship, conflict, post-war recovery, governance, all with respect to Africa. With over 15 years of combined professional and personal experiences in Africa, Europe and North America, she has worked across a broad range of fields supporting universities, governments, media institutions, as well as multilateral, regional, non-governmental and community-based organisations. She has carried out multi-sited fieldwork in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Denmark, Ghana, Liberia, Niger, Sierra Leone, Somaliland, the USA and the UK. She has expertise in qualitative research, capacity development, policy design and analysis, programme management, report and grant writing, journalism and strategic communications. 


  • Africa (generally) and West Africa (specifically)
  • Liberia
  • Corruption
  • War and conflict
  • Post-war recovery
  • Political Economy
  • Governance
  • Citizenship
  • Transnationalism
  • Migration
  • Diasporas
  • Development
  • Aid
  • Trade
  • Remittances

Media experience

Dr Pailey has provided expert commentary for radio, television, print and online media outlets around the world, including Public Radio International (PRI), The International New York Times, Newsweek, The Guardian (UK), Al Jazeera English, the Mail & Guardian (South Africa), This Is Africa, the Financial Times, the Associated Press, the BBC, Bloomberg News, USA Today, Voice of America, National Public Radio (US), ENCA Television (South Africa), Channels Television (Nigeria), Press TV, Sky News (UK) and Deutsche Welle (Germany).