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Eleanor Paynter

Eleanor Paynter headshot

Migrations Fellow

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.

Paynter has taught courses focused on migration, war and conflict, literature and film, Italian language, and writing and communication. At Cornell, she co-taught the new class Migrations: A Global, Interdisciplinary, Multi-Species Examination in fall 2020. Read more about Eleanor Paynter.

Additional Information



  • Postdoc
  • Einaudi Faculty Associate