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School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Professor Parvati Nair, B.A., M.A., Ph.D (University of London)


Professor of Hispanic, Cultural and Migration Studies and Convenor of QMUL’s Global Policy Institute

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 8328
Room Number: ArtsOne 1.23


I write as a migrant subject on questions of human mobility, forced or otherwise.

My research interests lie on the nexus of Cultural Studies and Migration Studies, with a special focus on visual representations of migration and displacement.

My background is in Hispanic Studies, starting with my doctoral work on the concept and practices of community in Spain. Subsequently, my writing has taken a more comparative and transnational focus, considering questions of human mobility and culture in contexts of globalization and transnational connections. My work is interdisciplinary and I employ methodologies that combine critical theory with ethnography. My preferred medium as an entry point to reflecting on the complexities and challenges of migration is photography. I have published extensively on photography as a mode of engaging with many socio-political issues relating to migration, such as ethnicity, gender, urban spaces, borders, inequalities, environmental displacement, cultural memory and community. I have also published on film and music, especially flamenco. My work is committed to an ethics of social justice, dignity, and human and planetary rights through revisions in existing policies, discourses and practices.

I joined Queen Mary University of London in 2000. Since then, I have engaged in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in Modern Languages and Cultures, Film and Comparative Literature. I have also successfully supervised and co-supervised over ten doctoral dissertations.

Between 2012 and 2019, I took a secondment from Queen Mary University of London to work as Founding Director of the United Nations University Institute on Globalization, Culture and Mobility in Barcelona, Spain. Projects undertaken here focused on migration and media, statelessness and transnational connections, international women migrants, cities and migration, and migration-related crises with the aim of directing research findings to inform policymaking on international migration. Between 2014 and 2018, I represented the United Nations University (UNU) at the Global Migration Group (GMG), a forum of twenty-two agencies of the United Nations working on migration. In 2017, I acted as Working Chair of the GMG and represented UNU at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

From 2019 to 2022, I was the Head of the School of Languages, Linguistics and Film.

I currently convene QMUL’s Global Policy Institute.




Research Interests:

I am currently writing a book entitled Photopolitics and Displacement in the Mediterranean: Re-viewing migration through imagery, under contract to Routledge. This book focuses on a range of issues relating to the rise of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean region in recent years through analyses of photography from all shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

I am currently co-leading a research project funded by QMUL’s Strategic Research Priorities Fund and run via the Global Policy Institute, Migration, Pandemic and Responses from the Third Sector: Lessons from Brazil and India that examines the work of civil society organizations, faith-based organizations and migrant-led organizations to support migrants in the context of the pandemic. This project commenced in January 1st 2021 and outputs will be launched in April 2021.

I am also part of QMUL’s Resilience Futures India Initiative, collaborating with colleagues from the School of Medicine and Dentistry on a project relating to migration, health and gender.

I am currently also shaping a project on the role of photography in constructing cultural memory among ethnic minorities from South Asia in the United Kingdom.

I am the Principal Editor of the peer-reviewed journal, Crossings: Journal of Migration and Culture. I founded Crossings in 2010, to offer a space for debates on the nexus of migration and culture. The journal promotes diverse global and local perspectives by fostering cutting-edge research in this area, with a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary methodologies.

If interested in submitting an article, please visit:

I am currently writing a book entitled Migrant Sea: Displacement, Environments and Photo-Politics in the Mediterranean, under contract to Routledge. This book focuses on a range of issues relating to the rise of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean region in recent years through analyses of photography from all shores of the Mediterranean Sea.


Books (single-authored)

A Different Light: The Photography of Sebastião Salgado, 2011, Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Rumbo al norte: inmigración y movimientos culturales entre el Magreb y España, 2006, Barcelona: Edicions Bellaterra

Configuring Community: Theories, Narratives and Practices of Community Identities in Contemporary Spain, 2004, London: Modern Humanities Research Association


Books (co-edited)

Migration Across Boundaries: Linking Research to Practice and Experience (Ashgate Publishers, 2015).

Hispanic and Lusophone Women Filmmakers: Critical Discourses and Cinematic Practices, co- edited with Julian Gutiérrez-Albilla, 2013, Manchester: Manchester University Press

Gender and Spanish Cinema, co-edited with Steven Marsh, 2004, Oxford: Berg Publishers


Chapters in edited books

'Displacing the hero: masculine ambivalence in the cinema of Luis García Berlanga' in Entertaining Ideologies: 100 Years of European Cinema, ed. D. Holmes,Manchester: Manchester University Press, June 2000

'Homing the Other: the Immigrant as New European in David Planell's Bazar in Beyond Boundaries, ed. Andy Hollis, Amsterdam: Rodopi Press, December 2000

'Elusive song: flamenco as field and negotiation among the gitanos in Córdoba prison', in Constructing Identity in Twentieth Century Spain: Theoretical debates and Narrative Practices, ed. Jo Labanyi, Oxford University Press, 2002

'Vocal In-roads: Flamenco, Orality and Postmodernity in Las 3000 Viviendas: Viejo Patio (EMI, 1999)' in Music, Culture, Identity, edited by Richard Young Amsterdam: Rodopi Press, 2002

'Border-Line Men: Gender, Place and Power in Representations of Moroccans in Recent Spanish Cinema' in Gender and Spanish Cinema edited by Parvati Nair and Steven Marsh, Oxford, Berg Publishers, 2004, 103-118

'Fotografía en torno al Estrecho,' in Dos siglos de imágenes de Andalucía edited by Alberto Egea, Sevilla, Centro de Estudios Andaluces, 2006

‘Voicing Risk: Displacement and Relocation in Spanish-Moroccan Raï' in Between the Local and the Global: Popular Music and National Identity edited by Ian Biddle and Vanessa Knights, London: Ashgate, 2007, 65-80

'Europe's "Last" Wall: Contiguity, Exchange and Heterotopia in Ceuta, the Confluence of Europe and North Africa" in Border Interrogations edited by Simon Doubleday and Benita Sampedro, Oxford, Berghahn Publishers, 2008, 15-41

'Trazar frontera: inmigración y movimientos culturales en España,' chapter in Irene Blásquez and Ángel Chueca (editors), Migraciones internacionales en el Mediterráneo y UE: un reto, 2009, p.11-21

'After-Images: Trauma, History and Connection in the Photography of Alfredo Jaar,' chapter in The Eyes of Gutete Emerita, 2010, edited by Pamela Prado, Santiago de Chile: Dirac Publishers, 63-78

‘Postcolonial Theories of Migration: Historicizing Displacement, Dissonance and Difference,’ in Immanuel Ness (ed.), The Encyclopaedia of Global Human Migration (in 2012, Oxford: Wiley Blackwell)

‘Reconfiguring the Rural: Fettered Geographies, Unsettled Histories and the Abyss of Alienation in Recent Socially Engaged Cinema from Spain,’ in Julian Gutierrez-Albilla and Parvati Nair (eds)., Hispanic and Lusophone Women Filmmakers: Critical Discourses and Cinematic Practices, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013

'Travelling Song: Music, Iteration and Translation in La leyenda del tiempo (The Legend of Time, Isaki Lacuesta, 2006)', in Rob Stone and Lisa Shaw (eds.), Screening Songs 2012, Manchester: Manchester University Press

‘Undocumented, Unseen: The Making of the Everyday in the Global Metropolis of London’ in London, the Promised Land -- Revisited edited by Anne Kershen, Ashgate Publishers, London, 2015

‘Cultural and Religious Plurality in Europe: the challenges of Pluralism’, in IEMED Yearbook. 2014. Barcelona: Iemed Publications, p.328-330

‘Turbulent Roads: Imperialism, globalization and migration’, in Ness, Immanuel and Saer, Ba (eds), 2015, The Palgrave Encyclopaedia of Imperialism and Anti- Imperialism. London: Palgrave

‘Undocumented, Unseen: the making of the everyday in the global metropolis of London’ in Kershen, Anne (ed), 2015. London: the Promised Land? London: Ashgate

‘Still Photography and Moving Subjects: Migration in the Frame of Hospitality,’ in Nair, Parvati and Bloom, Tendayi (eds)., Migration Across Boundaries (2015), Ashgate

‘The Razor’s Edge: Image and Corporeality at Europe’s Borders’, in Tanya Sheehan (ed.). 2018, Photography and Migration, London: Routledge, pp. 83-99

‘At Sea: Hope as Survival and Sustenance for Refugees’ in David Farrier (ed.), Refugee Imaginaries: Contemporary Research Across the Humanities, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming in 2019.


Articles in refereed journals

'Between Being and Becoming: an ethnographic examination of border crossings in Alma gitana (Chus Gutiérrez, 1995)', Tesserae, Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies, 5:2, December 1999, 173-188

‘Albums of No Return: Ethnicity, Displacement and Recognition in Photographs of Moroccan Immigrants in Spain', Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, 1, March 2000, 59-73

'Straddling the personal and the public: elastic boundaries or a case-study of two gitana daughters of reknowned flamencos' in Journal of the Institute of Romance Studies, Spring 2001, 49-63

'In Modernity's Wake: transculturality, deterritorialization and the question of community in Las flores de otro mundo', in Postscript, April 2002, 38-49

'Memory in Motion: Ethnicity, Hybridity and Globalization in Self-Photographs of Moroccan Immigrants in Spain', Journal of Romance Studies, Vol.3.1, 2003, 73-86

'Moor-Veiled Matters: the hijab as troubling interrogative of the relation between the West and Islam', new formations, no. 51, winter 2003-2004, 39-49

'The Regard of the Gypsy: Ramón Zabalza's gitano photographs and the visual challenge to the stereotype' in Prácticas de poder y estrategias de resistencia en la España democrática, edited by Óscar Cornago Bernal, special issue of Iberoamericana, 24.4, 2006

'Voicing Risk: migration, transgression and relocation in Spanish/Moroccan raï' in Interventions, Journal of Postcolonial Studies, Volume 8, Issue 1, Summer 2006, 67-82

'Autography from the Margins,' Hispanic Research Journal, Vol. 9, No. 2, 2008, 181-190 ‘Islamigration or the Other Within: Testing the Limits of European Democracy and Tolerance’, in Revista de Derecho Migratorio y Extranjería, Volume 21, July 2009, 11-20

‘The Body Politic of Dissent: the Paperless and the Indignant,’ Citizenship Studies,

Volume 16, Numbers 5-6, 1 August 2012 , 783-792

‘The Refuge of Photography: Perspectives on Asylum, Citizenship and Belonging in
London’ in Moving Worlds, special issue edited by David Farrier, Autumn 2012.

‘Women of the World: Gender, Migration and Remaking Home,’ Cahiers de la Méditerranée, forthcoming in 2017-18

‘Beyond Mapped Horizons: Reflections on the Model International Mobility Convention,’ Columbia Journal of International Law, No. 2, Vol. 6, 2018, 248-256



‘Beirut: City of Lines,’ Wasafiri, February 2013, Vol 28., p.10-12,

‘Homeward Bound? Questions on Promoting the Reintegration of Returning Migrants,’ UN Chronicle, No. 3, 2013, 30-33


I welcome expressions of interest for doctoral supervision in the broad areas of migration, studies, cultural memory, gender studies, and photography studies.

As an experienced PhD supervisor, I also welcome opportunities to offer collaborative supervision across many areas in the Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as the Humanities and Medicine.

Public Engagement

‘The Social Importance of Dance,’ an interview on BBC Radio Three Women’s Hour, 24 February 2010

‘Photography and Nature’s Frame,’ The Guardian, 6 August 2010

‘Photo-reportage’s Thwarted Potential,’ The Guardian, 22 August 2010

‘In Equatorial Guinea, What Would It Take for People Power to Triumph?,’ The Guardian, 20 February 2011

‘Fire Under Plastic: immigration, or the open wounds of late capitalism’

‘After-images: Trauma, History and Connection in the Work of Alfredo Jaar’

‘Why Photography Matters’, openDemocracy, 9 June 2015

‘Home-Work: Gender and Urban Immigrant Relocation’, openDemocracy, 10 June 2015.

‘On gender and migration’, openDemocracy, 11 June 2015.

‘The Mediterranean Crisis: An Open Letter to World Leaders’, MERIT Website, 8 September 2015. letter.html

‘Where to now? Governing the migration crisis in the Mediterranean’, openDemocracy, 9 September 2015. nair/where-to-now- governing-migration-crisis-in-mediterranean

‘Should Migration Have Been a Separate Goal?’, United Nations University, The Global Goals for Sustainable Development, 25 September 2015.

‘Universal,’ Tot un mon programme on TV3, mon/universal/video/5562477/

‘Sealed Lips, Sealed Borders: Contemporary Human Mobility and the Imperative of Language,’ 20 April 2016 hope/parvati-nair/sealed- lips-sealed-borders-contemporary-human-mobility-aƒbeirut

Carnegie Council video, ‘The Figure of the Immigrant and National Identity,’, September 26th 2016

‘Refugee or Migrant? Sometimes the line is blurred,’ The Conversation, June 20th 2017

‘Changing Places: between Here and There, the Local and the Global,’ February 26th 2019.

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