Nathalie Peutz

cultural anthropologist

Abu Dhabi, AE


Nathalie Peutz is a cultural anthropologist who has conducted wide-ranging, ethnographic research in Yemen, Djibouti, and Somaliland. She is the author of Islands of Heritage: Conservation and Transformation in Yemen (Stanford University Press, 2018) and co-editor of The Deportation Regime: Sovereignty, Space, and the Freedom of Movement (with Nicholas De Genova, Duke University Press, 2010).

Peutz’ research explores shifting forms of sovereignty and governance in the Western Indian Ocean region. She is interested in the effects of international regulatory regimes (migration regimes, environmental governance) on the marginalized communities they intend to protect, including refugees, migrants, and ethnic or linguistic minorities. As her research demonstrates, insights into the lived experience of deportation or the constraints of development and humanitarian aid in this strategically vital region contributes to a better understanding of how these regimes produce new forms of mobility and immobility globally.

Peutz’ latest book, Islands of Heritage: Conservation and Transformation in Yemen, examines the impact of environmental conservation, development, and heritage projects in prewar Yemen by tracing their intersections in Soqotra, the largest island of Yemen’s Soqotra Archipelago and one of the most biologically diverse places in the world. In 2019, Islands of Heritage was awarded the Middle East Section Book Award, conferred biennially by the Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association. It also received an honorable mention for the 2019 AGAPS Biennial Book Award, sponsored by the Association for Gulf and Arabian Studies.

A Berthold Leibinger ("Berlin Prize") Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin in Spring 2021, Nathalie Peutz is currently writing a book on Yemeni refugees and Ethiopian migrants in the Horn of Africa. Tentatively titled, Gate of Tears: Migration and Impasse in Yemen and the Horn of Africa, this work evaluates the impact of the UNHCR’s new Global Compact on Refugees in Djibouti, one of the pilot countries for the UN’s Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework.

She is also the PI for a collaborative, interdisciplinary project on "Climate Change, Political Economy and Connectivity in the Red Sea Region" funded by the Social Science Research Council's Transregional Collaboratory on the Indian Ocean Planning Grant.

Her research has won support from the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Bellagio Center of the Rockefeller Foundation, the Council of Middle East Studies at Yale University, Fulbright-Hays, the Social Science Research Council, the Andrew F. Mellon Foundation, and the American Institute for Yemeni Studies.

Peutz studied at Haverford College, the University of Leiden, the University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton University. Before joining NYUAD, she taught at Wayne State University, Middlebury College, and Yale University. She earned her BA in history from the University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in anthropology from Princeton University.