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Department of Development Studies

Ms Robtel Neajai Pailey

BA (Howard) BA (Howard) MSc (Oxford)


Robtel Pailey
Department of Development Studies

Graduate Teaching Assistant

Centre of African Studies


Centre for Development Policy and Research (CDPR)

Research Officer

Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies


Violence, Peace and Development Research Cluster

Research Cluster Member

Migration, Mobility and Development Research Cluster

Research Cluster Member

Ms Robtel Neajai Pailey
Email address:
Thesis title:
The Love of Liberty Divided Us Here? Factors Leading to the Introduction (and Postponement) of Proposed Dual Citizenship Legislation in Liberia
Year of Study:
Year of Entry 2011
Internal Supervisors


Born in Monrovia, Liberia, Robtel Neajai Pailey has worked in and conducted research on three continents. She currently specializes in Migration, Mobility, and Development, as a Mo Ibrahim Foundation Ph.D. Scholar.

PhD Research

African governments have increasingly factored diasporas into domestic development and post-conflict reconstruction efforts. This explicit acknowledgment of diasporas as transnational communities has manifested in legal instruments such as dual citizenship. Within the last decade alone, over one third of African countries have expanded constitutional reforms to grant dual citizenship to their diasporas, with Liberia introducing its own proposed dual citizenship legislation in 2008. In their Act to Establish Dual Citizenship for Liberians by Birth and Background, four Senators of Liberia’s 52nd National Legislature proposed amendments to certain sections of the Aliens and Nationality Laws of Liberia to grant dual citizenship to Liberians by birth who have naturalised elsewhere, and those born outside of Liberia to Liberian citizen parents.

Given that the proposed dual citizenship legislation is the first comprehensive policy mechanism that the Government of Liberia has ever introduced specifically to respond to diasporic claims beyond the range of ad-hoc emergency capacity building programs, this study analyses the legislation as a symbolic manifestation of Liberia’s long-standing struggles to formalise its relationship with its diasporas. I intend to examine the political, economic, and social factors that have influenced dual citizenship legislation and the roles of diasporas in Liberia’s reconstruction by triangulating textual analysis of post-war policy documents and reports produced by the government of Liberia and its donors; as well as qualitative interviews conducted with Liberians in four ‘diaspora sites’ (Ghana, Sierra Leone, UK, and US), with policy makers in Liberia and abroad, with returnee Liberians and circular returnees, and with homeland Liberians. 

I also intend to review comparable policy-making experiences of Sierra Leone, which enacted dual citizenship legislation in 2006 and shares a similar history with Liberia.

PhD Publications

PhD Conferences

  • May 2012: 42nd St. Gallen Symposium (St. Gallen, Switzerland)
    Presentation: “The African Uprising between Social Risks and Economic Opportunities”
  • March 2012: 44th Annual Liberian Studies Association (LSA) Conference (Ithaca, New York)
    Paper Presentation: “Evaluating the Statebuliding-Nationbuilding-Dual Citizenship Nexus in Liberia”


Liberian Studies Association


I intend to evaluate the ways in which post-conflict reconstruction in Liberia must contend with the question of diasporas and dual citizenship, given that many Liberians abroad have naturalised elsewhere and, therefore, “formally” relinquished their citizenship. As such, my thesis will scrutinise the markers of citizenship, narrowly defined in Liberia’s current Aliens and Nationality Law, how citizenship is currently conceived and practiced, and the potential relationship between dual citizenship and post-conflict reconstruction.