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Nicholas De Genova

Nicholas De Genova

Professor and Chair
Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Chicago

Tel. 713-743-0728
Old Science Building, Suite 230

Biographical Summary

Professor De Genova joined the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies as Chair in Fall 2018. 

Beginning in 2020, following the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Professor De Genova was appointed to chair a Special Committee on Race and Social Justice in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Houston.

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, sociolegal studies, urban studies, postcolonial studies, American studies, Latin American studies, and European studies.  As a scholar of critical race and ethnic studies, Professor De Genova has been most prominently located in Latino/a/x studies, but his work has also made contributions to African American studies, Asian American studies, Native American studies, and Arab American studies, and in the European context, also to Roma studies. He is also a social and political theorist and critic.

Professor De Genova was included on Stanford University’s 2022 list of the Top 2% most influential academic researchers in all fields (including the natural sciences, engineering, and medicine), based on a comprehensive ranking of the citations of published work.  Dr. De Genova was also recognized with a 2022 Distinguished Faculty Award by the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at UH.  This award honors senior faculty who have “achieved preeminence in their field for a nationally and internationally renowned, innovative, and transformative body of scholarship, coupled with the strong promise of continuing excellence.”

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).
  • co-editor of Roma Migrants in the European Union: Un/Free Mobility (with Can Yildiz; Routledge, 2019 )
  • co-editor of Europa / Crisis: Nuevas Palabras Claves de la Crisisen y de Europa” (with Martina Tazzioli; Los Libros de la Catarata [Madrid, Spain], 2021)

In addition, he is the author of more than 100 scholarly articles and book chapters.

Professor De Genova is currently writing two new books: The Migrant Metropolis  — AND — Whiteness: A Matter of Life and Death.

Professor De Genova has also co-edited a new book:​ The Borders of America: Migration, Control, and Resistance across Latin America and the Caribbean, (co-edited with Soledad Álvarez Velasco, Gustavo Dias, and Eduardo Domenech), which is currently under review.  Another new edited book project, Border Abolitionism:  Migrant Struggles and the Law, co-edited with Daniel Morales of the UH Law Center, is also currently under review.

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 10 languages: Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Slovenian, Spanish, and Turkish. Interviews with Professor De Genova have appeared in English, Czech, Danish, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish.

Professor De Genova has professional academic experience in four countries. He previously held appointments in Geography at King's College London (2013-16), where he was the Director of the Cities Research Group and then the Director of a research group on Spatial Politics; and in Anthropology at Goldsmiths/ University of London (2011-13), Columbia University (2000-09) and Stanford University (1997-99). Between 2009 and 2011, De Genova was the Swiss Chair in Mobility Studies as a visiting Professor in the Institute of Social Anthropology at the University of Bern (Switzerland); Visiting Research Professor in the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies at the University of Amsterdam; and a visiting scholar in the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at the University of Chicago. In 2007-08, he was awarded a Marie Curie International Research Fellowship 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, migrant “illegality,” 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, his work also came to engage with 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 Race” with 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 Crisis’ in 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”).

With Martina Tazzioli, De Genova has also coordinated and co-edited a third iteration of the New Keywords project: "Minor Keywords of Political Theory: Migration as a Critical Standpoint,” which was published in the journal Environment & Planning C: Politics and Space.  This project is 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. This network involved 23 co-authors from 13 countries, working collaboratively on 11 topics.

Professor De Genova was also the Project Advisor and a participant in a new collaborative international network involving more than 70 researchers in more than 24 countries, initiated and coordinated by Soledad Álvarez Velasco, on: COVID-19 and (Im)Mobility in the Americas / COVID-19 e (In)Movilidad en las Américas.

Nicholas De Genova was also the Host of the first four episodes of the podcast, Metropolis Rising (launched in February 2021).

Research and Teaching Interests

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


  • Foundations of Anthropological Theory
  • Issues and Debates in Social and Cultural Theory
  • Migration/ Borders/ Citizenship
  • Race, Racialization, and the Politics of Culture