Eleanor Paynter

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Italian Studies and at the Cogut Institute for the Humanities


Eleanor Paynter is Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Italian Studies and at the Cogut Institute for the Humanities, working on Africa-Europe mobilities, transnational Italy, and literatures and politics of migration. Her research bridges critical refugee and postcolonial studies and examines questions of race, asylum, and belonging in Italy and the Black Mediterranean through narrative and ethnographic methods, including life narrative and documentary forms, as well as oral history. Research at migrant reception centers, camps, and worksites in Italy informs her forthcoming book, Emergency in Transit, which engages a range of testimonies to counter notions of migration as a "crisis." Her current project, Up/Rooted, situates contemporary issues of migrant, racial, and climate justice within a longer cultural history of the figure of the farmworker in modern Italy.  

Eleanor is committed to collaborative public humanities projects in the form of podcasts, translations, and writing for broad publics, practices she also brings into the classroom. She was recently Postdoctoral Associate in Migrations at Cornell University. She holds a PhD in Comparative Studies (Ohio State University) and an MFA in poetry (Sarah Lawrence College) and is a member of the Action Research and Rights Collective. In 2023-24 she will teach Borders, Belonging, and Memory in the Black Mediterranean (Fall) and Ethnography, Oral History, and Storytelling: Theories and Methods of Narrating Italy (Spring).