Isabella Alexander

Visiting Assistant Professor

Office: 111 Anthropology

Phone: 404-727-7594


Additional Contact Information


  • BA, Gallatin School of Individualized Study, New York University
  • MFA, Film, Speos Institut de la Photographie
  • MA, Social Sciences, University of Chicago
  • MA, Anthropology, Emory University
  • PhD, Anthropology, Emory University, 2016



  • Transnational Migration 
  • The Legal Construction of Citizens, Migrants & Refugees 
  • Political Economy
  • International Human Rights
  • (De)constructing Race, Class, Gender & Nationalism
  • Islam
  • Engaged Anthropology
  • Documentary Film
  • Alternative Ethnographic Research Methods
  • The European Union, Post-colonial Africa & the Maghrib

I am a cultural anthropologist, writer, and filmmaker, who studies the social and political realities of transitional migration in our world's most critical border regions. 

My most recent project centered on the other side of Europe's unfolding Migrant and Refugee Crisis. Morocco lies less than eight miles from Spain, and the colonial-era Spanish enclaves that still exist in northern Morocco make it a primary crossing point for African migrants and refugees attempting to reach European shores. I am currently revising a book manuscript, titled Burning at the E.U. Borders, in which I combine my years of ethnographic engagement with the hundreds of thousands of sub-Saharan Africans trapped in Morocco with my analysis of the E.U.'s efforts to mold Morocco into a final destination for all African migrations north. My other recent publications on this research have focused on the racial dimensions of political categorizations of inclusion and exclusion, and on the implications that Spain's current policies and practices in Morocco could have for other nations on the periphery of the E.U. This project has been supported by a multitude of grants from: the National Science Foundation, Fulbright, Fulbright-Hays, American Institute for Maghrib Studies, West African Research Association, Saharan Crossroads Fellowship, Creative Visions Foundation, and Emory’s Visual Scholarship Initiative. 

Working at the intersection of transnational migration studies and international human rights, I always aim to make my research accessible to scholars, policymakers, and popular audiences. While working on the other side of the Migrant and Refugee Crisis, I was contracted by the European Commission on Migration and Asylum to produce policy recommendations and invited by CNN to share my expertise on Mediterranean migrations as one of their regional correspondents. I continue to work in partnership with several international NGOs to fight for the improved treatment of youth born into a rapidly expanding global population of "invisibles" and organize an annual conference on "New Migrations" in partnership with the UNHCR and Morocco's national university. After publishing and speaking out extensively on the failure of both European and African nations to uphold basic human rights conventions in their treatment of migrants and refugees, my passion to engage with even broader audiences through alternative ethnographic methods has driven me to write, direct, and produce a feature-length documentary film based on my research, which will enter its production phase this winter. You can learn more about my current project at:


  • ANT 385 Special Topics - Visual Anthropology & Filmmaking as a Research Method
  • ANT 385 Special Topics - The Migrant & Refugee Crisis: Borders, Mobility & the Contested Right to Asylum
  • ANT 385 Special Topics - The Arab Spring: Islam, Media & the Making of the Bad Guys
  • ANT 280 Anthropological Perspectives - Africa
  • ANT 202 Concepts & Methods in Cultural Anthropology
  • ANT 101 Introduction to Anthropology