About

Nisrin Elamin

Assistant Professor, Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia University

Fellow, SOF/Heyman, Columbia University (2019–2020)

Nisrin Elamin (she/her/hers) received her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Stanford University in 2019 and her B.A. in sociopolitical development studies from Harvard University in 2000. Her work explores the relationship between land, belonging, migration and geopolitics in postsecession Sudan and the broader Sahel region. Her current project examines the ways landless and landholding communities are negotiating and contesting changes in land ownership prompted by a recent wave of Gulf Arab corporate investments in Sudanese land. It situates contemporary, state-driven ‘land grabs’ in the agricultural Gezira region of central Sudan, within a layered history of enclosures and unequal landed relations shaped by legacies of enslavement and colonial rule. Methodologically, it combines a multi-sited ethnographic study of land dispossession in rural and peri-urban communities with a historical analysis of the ways the Gezira has been imagined as the answer to various colonial and post-colonial development visions.

Her research has received support from the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council and the Wenner-Gren Foundation. Nisrin’s writing on current affairs in Sudan and the broader Sahel region, has appeared in Al Jazeera, the "Monkey Cage" blog of the Washington Post, OkayAfrica, and the Egypt Independent. Prior to pursuing an academic career, Nisrin worked for more than 13 years as an educator, organizer, and advocate for various community-based organizations, schools and international agencies in the U.S., Chile, Brazil, and Tanzania. Before joining Bryn Mawr College, she spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow at the Society of Fellows, Columbia University, in New York City.