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Rutherford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow

Neil Vallelly imageContact details


Academic qualifications

  • 2015: PhD, University of Otago
  • 2011: MA, Queen's University Belfast
  • 2012: BA (Hons), Queen's University Belfast

Research interests

Neil's research crosses the areas of political and intellectual history, critical theory, and continental philosophy. He specialises in the history of neoliberalism, critique of capitalism, and the politics of migration and borders.

His first book, Futilitarianism: Neoliberalism and the Production of Uselessness (2021), examined the historical relationship between capitalism and utilitarianism. It explored, in particular, how the neoliberal mutation of capitalism in the late twentieth century transformed the relationship between utility and the common good, trapping individuals in what he calls “the futilitarian condition,” where they are forced to maximise utility in ways that lead to the worsening of collective social and economic conditions. An Italian translation of the book, under the title Vite Rubate, was published in March 2022.

In late 2021, Neil was awarded a two-year Rutherford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship to work on a project on the historical relationship between neoliberalism and migrant incarceration in Aotearoa and beyond. He is also developing several collaborative research projects on topics relating to social reproduction and essential work during the COVID-19 pandemic, the history of migration policy in Aotearoa New Zealand, and the cultural politics of suicide in public.

Neil's research has appeared in academic journals such as Rethinking Marxism, Angelaki, and Poetics Today, he has written for media, including New Internationalist, ROAR, and New Zealand Listener, and he has appeared on several podcasts, such as A World to Win with Grace Blakeley, The Postcapitalism Podcast, and the New Books Network.

Neil is a member of the Centre for Global Migrations at Otago, a researcher for the think tank Economic and Social Research Aotearoa, and a member of the Executive Committee for the Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy.

Areas of Research Supervision

Neil welcomes research proposals on any topics related to Neoliberalism; Capitalism; Marxist and Critical Theory; Borders; Migration; Migrant Detention; Social Reproduction Theory.


Murtola, A.-M., & Vallelly, N. (2023). Who cares for wellbeing? Corporate wellness, social reproduction and the essential worker. Organization, 30(3), 510-527. doi: 10.1177/13505084221131642

Murtola, A.-M., & Vallelly, N. (2023). Visible and invisible work in the pandemic: Social reproduction and the ambivalent category of the essential worker. Journal of Gender Studies, 2219979. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/09589236.2023.2219979

Vallelly, N. (2023). Editorial: The fictitious university. Counterfutures, 14, 10-18. [Editorial].

Vallelly, N. (2022). The politics of futility. New Internationalist, (March-April), 65-71.

Vallelly, N. (2022). The World Cup should make us rethink our understanding of human rights. Jacobin, (11.21.2022). Retrieved from

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