Authors Amplified | Isabella Alexander-Nathani, ‘Burning at Europe’s Borders’

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Atlanta Global Studies Center (AGSC) is proud to present the “Authors Amplified” series hosted by Global Atlanta!

Authors Amplified: Isabella Alexander-Nathani
May 12, 1:30 P.M. EST
"Burning at Europe’s Borders’"

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Global Atlanta’s Authors Amplified series, sponsored by the Atlanta Gloobal Studies Center, highlighting Georgia voices continues with a virtual interview with Dr. Isabella Alexander-Nathani, anthropologist, filmmaker and author of the recently released book Burning at Europe’s Borders: An Ethnography on the African Migrant Experience in Morocco, which features an accompanying documentary The Burning by Small World Films, Dr. Alexander-Nathani’s production company.

About the Book: 

In her heart-pounding and courageous debut, Dr. Isabella Alexander-Nathani uncovers an unseen side of our global migrant and refugee crisis.

Burning at Europe’s Borders invites readers inside the lives of the world’s largest population of migrants and refugees–the hundreds of thousands who are trapped in hidden forest camps and forgotten detention centers at Europe’s southernmost borders in North Africa. “Hrig,” the Arabic term for “illegal immigration,” translates to “burning.” It signifies a migrant’s decision to burn their papers, in order to avoid identification and repatriation on their long journeys to safer shores. But it also signifies their decision to burn their past lives, sacrificing themselves in hopes of reaching a future on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea. Alexander-Nathani examines this process of “burning,” traveling thousands of miles alongside those who have fled war and extreme poverty across the African continent only to find themselves trapped in Libya, Algeria, and Morocco. This book exposes the political agreements that have led to Europe’s control over African borders and the illicit practices that continue to mold North African countries into brutal holding cells for our world’s most vulnerable.

Burning at Europe’s Borders introduces new ways of doing anthropological research in the modern era, as Alexander-Nathani skillfully weaves images and individual stories into her analysis of changing migration flows at our world’s most critical border crossings. Her creative mixed-methods approach included community filmmaking practices and over three years of ethnographic research in African smuggling rings, hidden migrant brotherhoods, and European Union-funded detention centers. This is an ideal cross-over book, promising to engage students, scholars, policymakers, and popular audiences seeking to step inside the heart of our world’s greatest humanitarian crisis.

Burning at Europe’s Borders is a volume in the series ISSUES OF GLOBALIZATION: CASE STUDIES IN CONTEMPORARY ANTHROPOLOGY, which examines the experiences of individual communities in our contemporary world. Each volume offers a brief and engaging exploration of a particular issue arising from globalization and its cultural, political, and economic effects on certain peoples or groups.

About the Author: 

Dr. Isabella Alexander-Nathani is an award-winning writer, filmmaker, educator, and human rights activist. Trained as a cultural anthropologist, her work is motivated by her belief that storytelling has the power to humanize complex political issues and bring positive social change. Her latest book, Burning at Europe’s Borders (Oxford University Press, 2020) and related documentary film The Burning (Small World Films, 2020) uncover the human sides of our global migrant and refugee crisis. She currently serves as Founder and CEO of Small World Films, a non-profit production studio, which uses grounded research and social impact storytelling to lift the voices of marginalized populations to the global stage and fight for international policy change.

Isabella’s work has been featured on BBC, CNN, NPR, PRI, and Al Jazeera, and she is a regular contributor to SAPIENS, where she writes a monthly column called “Borders.” Her recent speaking programs have brought her to stages around the world, including the United Nations General Assembly and the Parliament of the World’s Religions, where she has delivered keynote addresses on human rights to audiences of more than 10,000. In 2016, The American Anthropological Association presented her with the “Emerging Leader in Anthropology” award, and her latest projects have been supported by grants from The National Science Foundation. She is proud to serve on the Advisory Board for several non-profit organizations, including The Global Village Project, the first school designed specifically for refugee girls; Stories Found, an organization equipping African youth with filmmaking skills and technology; and SAPIENS, a digital journal focused on connecting social science research to the public.

Originally from the southern United States, Isabella has called New York, Paris, Chicago, Rabat, Atlanta, and Bamako home over the years. She earned her degrees from New York University (BA), the University of Chicago (MA), Emory University (MA, PhD), and the Spéos Institute in France (MFA), and she has held a faculty positions in the Departments of Anthropology and Film Studies at Emory University and the Department of Social Sciences at Université Mohammed V, Morocco’s National University. While her work frequently brings her to New York, Geneva, and across North Africa, she now happily calls Santa Barbara, California home, where she lives with her partner, Amit Alexander-Nathani, their son, and their two rescue dogs, Willow and Bear.

About the Authors Amplified Series
Georgia’s deep pool of international experts can be hidden in the ivory towers of academia or overshadowed by national figures. Sought-after thought leaders sometimes shine globally while being less-known in their own backyard. With Authors Amplified, a monthly series of public book talks, Global Atlanta will interview authoritative local voices in foreign affairs and global business while highlighting the state’s intellectual contributions to important global conversations.

Authors Amplified Series is sponsored by the Atlanta Global Studies Center (AGSC)


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  • Created: 04/28/2021
  • Modified By: aozkan30
  • Modified: 04/28/2021