On this episode I speak with Dr. Eleanor Paynter about her work in Critical Refugee Studies, including a recent essay on soundwalking, as well as her role as a Migrations Postdoctoral Fellow at Cornell University. Dr. Paynter’s work focuses on testimony as a multifaceted object: a legalistic framework for migrants seeking refugee status, as well as a mode of expressing agency in creative ways. In this conversation we touch on the so-called “refugee crisis” in Europe, as well as poetry, interdisciplinarity, public scholarship, and more.
Eleanor Paynter is part of the Einaudi Center’s Migrations research team, building interdisciplinary conversations and collaborations around the study of migration. She hosts the Migrations initiative podcast, Migrations: A World on the Move.
She graduated from The Ohio State University with a doctorate in comparative studies. Her work is in the area of critical refugee studies, incorporating approaches from narrative, media, and cultural studies to consider experiences and representations of precarious and undocumented migration, asylum, and human rights. Focused on the Black Mediterranean, her research and public writing respond to anti-immigrant racism and postcolonial border dynamics.
Her dissertation received the International Studies Association’s 2021 Lynne Rienner Publishers Award for Best Dissertation in Human Rights. Her current book project examines migration from Africa to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea, drawing on migrant testimonies produced in Italy to reconsider the common framing of irregular migration as a crisis or emergency. In addition, she’s collaborating on a project about precarious mobilities and visual culture and is developing a study of European migration governance through social media analysis. Eleanor is also a poet and holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.
Here is some of Dr. Paynter’s work that we discussed in this episode:
- The soundwalking article we discuss is forthcoming with a/b: Auto/Biography Studies.
- Dr. Paynter’s podcast is Migrations: A World on the Move
- You can find more of her publications here, including many open access/public articles.
Other work mentioned in the show:
- Guide Invisibili
- Amade M’charek, Katharina Schramm and David Skinner, “Introduction: Technologies of Belonging: The Absent Presence of Race in Europe”
- The work of Igiaba Scego
- Yen Le Espiritu, Body Counts: The Vietnam War and Militarized Refugees
- Ma Vang, History on the Run Secrecy: Fugitivity, and Hmong Refugee Epistemologies