In the context of voice as a form of power, Dr Robtel Neajai Pailey joining the academic community at the London School of Economics today would be considered great news for global academia in general and for Africa too. The cosmopolitan surge notwithstanding, there is a cause for joy with an extra voice from Africa operating in a global site of knowledge production as the London School of Economics and Political Science.
This is more so with the footsteps of Dr. Pailey who obtained her PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies, (SOAS), University of London and then a stint at Oxford as an Early Career researcher before her arrival at LSE now. In one particular seminar at the University College London in March 2015, she manifested the stuff she is made of when she spoke on a topic along with Oxford University’s Professor Peter Singer, the global authority on what students of global ethic call “assigning responsibility for global poverty”.
She is not a big name yet but her trajectory so far is in that direction, going by the official announcement on her Facebook a few hours ago and which is reproduced below, followed by an insight from blog. First, the Facebook announcement of her joining the LSE:
IT’S OFFICIAL: I’m thrilled to be joining the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) today as Assistant Professor in International Social and Public Policy! I definitely couldn’t have done it without my amazing ecosystem of love and support, including God, family, friends, mentors, funders, etc.
When I rang one of my closest sistah-friends, Amy Niang, in mid-March 2020 to tell her that the head of the Department of Social Policy had called to personally congratulate me on being selected, she shrieked in excitement “WE DID IT!” INDEED…
My mother and father, Ethel Neajai Johnson Pailey and Abraham Robert Pailey, did it with their sacrifices, prayers and libations. Mom kept reminding me that the long limbo between PhD completion and finding the right permanent academic job was God’s way of teaching me humility, patience and perseverance. Dad said our ancestors were moving mountains and straightening crooked paths to sprinkle my destiny with fairy dust.
Professors Laura Hammond, JoAnn McGregor and Patricia Daley did it by writing stellar references, never once complaining that I was making too many demands on their time. And when I didn’t get the jobs I thought were ‘perfect’ for me, they encouraged me to keep reaching for the stars.
Other sistah-friends like Simidele Dosekun, Bukola Kpotie, Yen Pham and Gaby Balbuena did it by offering guidance during and long before the road to LSE recruitment—on everything from polishing my cover letter and CV to interviewing to negotiating salary and benefits.
Funders like the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and Leverhulme Trust did it by gifting me a scholarly ‘room of my own’ to think, write and publish.
Amy was right, WE did it! Now I intend to use this incredible privilege to pry open doors for others.
And this is what you find in her blog:
A scholar working at the intersection of Critical Development Studies and Critical African Studies, Robtel centres 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. She has conducted multi-sited fieldwork across three continents, including in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Denmark, Ghana, Liberia, Niger, Sierra Leone, Somaliland, the UK and US. Her core areas of expertise include the political economy of development, migration, race, citizenship, conflict, post-war recovery and governance, all with respect to Africa. Robtel’s current project, Africa’s ‘Negro’ Republics, examines race, citizenship, ‘South-South’ migration and development cooperation in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
She is author of the forthcoming monograph Development, (Dual) Citizenship and Its Discontents in Africa: The Political Economy of Belonging to Liberia (Cambridge University Press, 2021). Robtel has also published in scholarly journals including Development and Change, African Affairs, Democratization, Migration Studies, Citizenship Studies, Review of African Political Economy, Liberian Studies Journal (LSJ), Humanitas; and edited book volumes including Oxford Encyclopedia of African Politics (2020), The New Humanitarians in International Practice: Emerging Actors and Contested Principles (2016), Leadership in Post-Colonial Africa: Trends Transformed by Independence (2014), Tales, Tellers and Talemaking: Critical Studies on Literary Stylistics and Narrative Styles in Contemporary African Literature (2010), From the Slave Trade to ‘Free’ Trade: How Trade Undermines Democracy and Justice in Africa (2007). She gives presentations at universities across the globe and engages increasingly with policy makers and practitioners through consulting and invited talks.