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Nicholas De Genova

Nicholas De Genova

Professor and Chair
PhD, University of Chicago

Tel. 713-743-0728

Biographical Summary

Born and raised in Chicago, Professor De Genova is a scholar of migration, borders, race, citizenship, and labor.  His academic work has contributed to multiple disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, geography, and political science, as well as contributing to the interdisciplinary fields of cultural studies, migration studies, border studies, citizenship studies, legal studies, American studies, ethnic studies, Latino/a/x studies, African American studies, Asian American studies, Native American studies, Arab American studies, postcolonial studies, and European studies. He is also a social and political theorist and critic. He joined the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies as Chair in Fall 2018.

Professor De Genova is the author of:

  • Working the Boundaries: Race, Space, and "Illegality" in Mexican Chicago  (Duke University Press, 2005)
  • co-author of Latino Crossings: Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and the Politics of Race and Citizenship (with Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas; Routledge, 2003)
  • editor of Racial Transformations: Latinos and Asians Remaking the United States (Duke University Press, 2006)
  • co-editor of  The Deportation Regime: Sovereignty, Space, and the Freedom of Movement  (with Nathalie Peutz; Duke University Press, 2010)
  • editor of The Borders of "Europe": Autonomy of Migration, Tactics of Bordering (Duke University Press, 2017). 

In addition, he is the author of numerous scholarly articles and book chapters.

Professor De Genova is currently completing two new books:  one on The Migrant Metropolis, and another on The "European" Question: Migration, Race, and Postcoloniality

Professor De Genova's scholarship has garnered international attention. De Genova has been invited to speak to diverse academic audiences in more than 35 countries, on 7 continents.  His scholarship has been published  in translation in Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Slovenian, Spanish, and Turkish.  Interviews with Professor De Genova have been published in English, Danish, Italian, Spanish, and Swedish, and another video interview was broadcast on Czech television.

Professor De Genova has professional academic experience in four countries. He most recently held a permanent appointment as Reader in Urban Geography, where he was the Director of the Cities Research Group and then the Director of a research group on Spatial Politics, in the Department of Geography at King's College London (2013-16).  Previously, he was Reader in Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London (2011-13).  During the 2010-11 academic year, De Genova was a visiting scholar in the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at the University of Chicago.  During the spring and summer of 2010, De Genova was a Visiting Research Professor in the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies at the University of Amsterdam.  In the Fall semester of 2009, he held the Swiss Chair in Mobility Studies as a visiting Professor in the Institute of Social Anthropology at the University of Bern (Switzerland)Earlier in his career, De Genova was a professor of sociocultural, political, and legal Anthropology, Latino and comparative Ethnic Studies, "American" (U.S.) studies, and migration studies at Columbia University (2000-09) and Stanford University (1997-99).  In 2007-08, he was a Marie Curie International Research Fellow at the University of Warwick (UK).

Professor De Genova conducted extensive ethnographic research among transnational Mexican/ migrant factory workers in Chicago during the 1990s.  His research concerned the conjunctures of racialization, labor subordination, and the politics of immigration and citizenship in the United States.  His subsequent research concerned the politics of immigration, race, and citizenship in the United States in the aftermath of the so-called War on Terror, as well as the securitization of human mobility and the diverse experiences of migrant labor and borders on a global scale.  During several years based in Europe, he has also become interested in the intersections of migration, racialization, border struggles, and the production of urban space in the European context.

In collaboration with Sandro Mezzadra, political theorist at the University of Bologna, De Genova initiated a multi-disciplinary research network on The ‘European’ Question: Postcolonial Perspectives on Migration, Nation, and Racewith migration scholars from the UK, Italy, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Latvia, and the Czech Republic, as well as Ecuador, Iran, Turkey, and the United States.   The first publication to emerge from this network appeared in the journal Cultural Studies (2015):  New Keywords:  Migration and Borders  (a collective writing project involving 17 co-authors, co-edited and introduced by Nicholas De Genova, Sandro Mezzadra, and John Pickles). The second publication of the New Keywords project:  Europe / Crisis:  New Keywords of the Crisisin and of “Europe” (a collective writing project involving 15 co-authors; coordinated, co-edited and introduced by Nicholas De Genova and Martina Tazzioli) was published in February 2016 at Near Futures Online, the online companion to the Zone Books series Near Futures”).  Currently, with Martina Tazzioli, Professor De Genova has initiated a third iteration of the New Keywords project:  "Minor Keywords of Political Theory: Migration as a Critical Standpoint,” focused on concepts, categories, and other notions that are often widely used in both political theory and the migration and refugee studies literatures, but which remain remarkably under-theorized, and which hitherto have lacked any extensive political and historical genealogy. 

Professor De Genova also served as an Expert Witness for Tribunal 12 (Stockholm, May 2012), dedicated to a critical public examination of systematic abuses in the context of migration and asylum-seeking in Europe.

Research and Teaching Interests

migration, borders, race citizenship, labor, nationalism, the state, the United States, Latin America, Europe, urban studies, social theory, political philosophy


  • Migration/ Borders/ Citizenship
  • Race, Racialization, and the Politics of Culture