About Isabella

“Listen, read, watch, and learn as Isabella teaches us that defending human rights must be at the core of everything we do.”

– Former President Jimmy Carter

DR. ISABELLA ALEXANDER-NATHANI is an award-winning writer, documentary filmmaker, and human rights activist. She is motivated by her belief that storytelling has the power to humanize complex political issues and establish common ground across difference. Her latest book (Burning at Europe’s Borders: Migration in the Age of Border Externalization, Oxford University Press, January 2020) and documentary film (The Burning: The Untold Story of Africa’s Migrant Crisis, Joe Berlinger Films, Summer 2020) uncover the human side of our global migrant and refugee crisis. Isabella’s work has been featured on BBC, CNN, and VICE, and she is a regular contributor to NPRPRI, and SAPIENS, where she writes a monthly column called “Borders.” Her speaking programs have brought her to stages across three continents, including the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly and the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions, where she delivered keynote addresses on international human rights and peace-building in crisis zones.

Isabella teaches in the Departments of Anthropology and Film Studies at Emory University and serves as the Executive Director of Small World Films, an independent production studio focused on social impact storytelling. She combines grounded social science research and creative multimedia to lift the voices of marginalized populations, raise public awareness about human rights, design cross-cultural educational programs, and advocate for policy change. She is proud to serve on the Advisory Board for multiple non-profit organizations, including The Global Village Project, the first school designed specifically for refugee girls; SAPIENS, a digital journal focused on connecting social science research to the public; and Stories Found, an organization bringing film education to communities in Africa.

Originally from the southern United States, Isabella has called New York, Paris, Chicago, Rabat, Atlanta, and Bamako home in recent years. She earned her degrees from New York University (BA), the University of Chicago (MA), Emory University (MA, PhD), and the Spéos Institute in France (MFA), and previously held a faculty position in the Department of Social Sciences at Université Mohammed V, Morocco’s National University. She now splits her time between Atlanta, New York, LA, and North Africa, along with her partner, Amit, and their rescue pup, Willow.

“A true freedom fighter. Isabella knows that change does not come without struggle and sacrifice. She’s paving the way for a new generation of human rights leaders.”

– Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson


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