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Episode #61 - January 2024

Over the past couple of years the idea of weaponizing migration has come to the forefront, particularly as the current case of Russia enabling migrants to access the Russia Finnish border and Belarus using travel agents to bring migrants to their border with Poland in 2021. However, this "hybrid warfare tactic", as several targeted states have termed it is not something new, it is instead a well worn path used by state and nonstate actors for centuries. To get a better understanding of what weaponized migration is and is not, we spoke with Dr. Kelly Greenhill, professor at Tufts University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as author of the book "Weapons of Mass Migration: Forced Displacement, Coercion, and Foreign Policy", probing some interesting stories of people being used as political pawns to extract concessions from targeted governments. 

Throughout this conversation we covered not only the how and why of weaponized migration, but also the ways in which targeted states and communities can respond (some more palatable than others). One of the most interesting things to note in this is that this coercive tactic only works when the targeted country's population is divided over immigration debates. This means that the United States, which has not been able to agree on immigration policy changes since 1994, is very vulnerable to this and needs to prepare for various countries to utilize this tactic both very publicly and in more clandestine ways. As the Presidential Election season is upon us and the Southern Border remains a hotly debated issue, it is interesting to wonder what the sudden appearance of migrant caravans might be in service of. Are countries trying to impact our elections by creating these caravans and encouraging them to move north? What can malign regimes extract from the Biden Administration simply by threatening to release waves of people upon the US' southern border?

Join us for this engaging conversation and dive into the realities of this all too common exploitation of people looking for a better, safer, and brighter future.

Kelly M. Greenhill holds joint positions as a professor of political science and international relations at Tufts University and as a Resident Senior Research Fellow and visiting professor at MIT (CV here), where she also serves as Director of the MIT-Seminar XXI Program.  For the academic years 2020-22, she was awarded a Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professorship, hosted by SOAS (University College London, UK), where she remains a non-resident Research Associate. 

Her first book, Weapons of Mass Migration: Forced Displacement, Coercion, and Foreign Policy (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs, 2010) won the 2011 International Studies Association’s (ISA) Best Book of the Year Award and was twice a finalist for the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. A second, updated and expanded edition, is forthcoming. Weapons of Mass Migration been translated into German (2016)Italian (2017), Estonian (2021), and Hungarian (forthcoming), and article-length adaptations have appeared in the English, Spanish and Portuguese editions of Military Review (November/December 2016 [Eng.]; May/June 2017). 

Dr. Greenhill is currently revising for publication a new book, a cross-national, mixed methods study that explores the influence of rumors, conspiracy theories, propaganda, so-called "fake news" and other forms of extra-factual information (EFI) on international politics. The book is provisionally entitled Better than the Truth: Extra-factual Sources of Threat Conception and Proliferation.

She has published articles in a variety of peer-reviewed journals, including International SecuritySecurity StudiesInternational Studies Quarterly, Political Science Quarterly, Civil WarsEuropean Law Journal and International Migration.  Her research and political commentary has appeared in national and international media outlets, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times, Foreign AffairsForeign Policy, the BBC, the Washington Post and the CBC.  Her work has also been cited and employed in legal briefs in cases argued before the U.S. Supreme Court and in policy briefs and planning guidance for other civilian and military organs of the U.S. government. Dr. Greenhill was the 2018 recipient of the ISSS Emerging Scholar Awardbestowed by the International Security Studies Section of the ISA to recognize scholars under the age of 45, or within 15 years of receiving their Ph.D., judged to have made the most significant contribution to the field of security studies.

Her research has been generously supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Science Research Council, the Leverhulme Trust, the MacArthur Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Eisenhower Foundation, the Neubauer Foundation, the British Academy, the World Bank and the JFK and LBJ presidential libraries. Outside of academia, Dr. Greenhill has served as a consultant to the United Nations and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, NATO, the World Bank, and the Ford Foundation; as a defense analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense; and as an economic policy intern for then Senator John F. Kerry.

In addition to her research, teaching and advising activities outlined above, she serves as an Editor, Cornell Studies in Security Affairs book series. Previously she served as Associate Editor of the journals Security Studies (2011-15) and International Security (2015-20); as Director of International Relations at Tufts University (2017-2020; 2021-22 [pro tem]); as a Resident Research Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government (2004-2022); and as Founding Chair of the Conflict, Security and Public Policy Working Group at the Belfer Center (2010-20).  She also serves on the editorial boards of Security Studies, The HKS Misinformation Review, Open Military Studies, Sage Publications, and Peter Lang's immigration and security series.  (She previously served on the boards of the Journal of Global Security Studies and the Texas National Security Review.)

A first generation college student, Dr. Greenhill holds an SM and a PhD in Political Science from MIT, a CSS in International Management from Harvard University, and a BA (with a double major in Political Economy and Scandinavian Studies) from UC Berkeley. I have held pre- and/or post-doctoral fellowships at Stanford University’s Center for Security and Cooperation, at Harvard University’s John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies and Belfer Center, at Columbia University's Saltzman Institute for War and Peace Studies, at the University of Cambridge's (UK) Center for Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities, and at SOAS, University of London.

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