Department of Development Studies

Dr Paolo Novak

Key information

Department of Development Studies Senior Lecturer in Development Studies Programme Convenor, MSc Migration Mobility and Development Convenor, Migration and Development Research Cluster Centre of Contemporary Central Asia and the Caucasus Academic Staff SOAS South Asia Institute Academic Staff Centre for the Study of Pakistan Academic Staff, Centre for the Study of Pakistan
MSc, PhD (London)
Russell Square: College Buildings
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Telephone number
020 7898 4214
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Paolo has degrees in Business and International Finance (Bocconi, Milan) and Development Studies
(SOAS) and has worked for brokerage firms, investment banks, NGOs and UNHCR, before joining SOAS.

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Research interests

My research is concerned with the conceptual and contextual relation between borders and migration, and the way in which this relation articulates with the development process. I seek to understand how the global structures and intimate forces conjured up by such relation are reproduced and unsettled in fluid, contingent and place-specific ways, and the political implications of these ambiguous dynamics. I develop this research agenda along three axes. First, I study the contested geographies producing and engendered by such relation, drawing from feminist and postcolonial understandings of place, space, territory and scale. Second, I study processes of institutional change, contestation, refusal and reappropriation implicated with such relation, primarily through a critical engagement with development- and migration-related border management policies and practices. Third, I strive to establish a conversation between what are often pitched as contrasting and opposing epistemological understandings of such relation, primarily through my teaching practices and secondary research activities.                                                                     

My current research on asylum infrastructure and the humanitarian border seeks to bring these different strands in a more direct conversation with each other. Titled Buildings of Refuge, this research project aims at developing the concept of postcoloniality of asylum infrastructure to intervene in a series of debates associated with the management of EU borders and the so-called European migration crisis.              

I have  conducted field research in Peshawar (Pakistan), Macerata (Italy), Meghalaya (India), Cairo (Egypt).

PhD Supervision

Name Title
Karen Schouw Iversen Humanitarian Activist Citizens: Desplazado Protests and State Humanitarianism in Bogotá, Colombia
Dr Hassan Ould Moctar EU Border Externalisation and the Postcolonial Conditioning of Contemporary Capitalism in Mauritania
Christian Sowa The Accommodation of Migrants in Berlin: Exploring the City and Urban Transformations (Working Title)


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