Second Century Initiative (2CI) fellow Kristian Warpinski is studying the processes by which children become involved in terrorist organizations.
Warpinski is working with Georgia State University’s Transcultural Conflict and Violence Initiative (TCV), to map the mobilization of children into terrorist organizations, and is currently looking at terrorist organizations Boko Haram in Nigeria, and Al-Shabaab in Somalia. The Principal Investigator of the research, funded by the Minerva Research Initiative and the Office of Naval Research, is Dr. Mia Bloom in the Communications Department.
She hopes to know more about how children come to belong to the organizations – including those who have not been forced to join — and how they can disengage the children from these groups and reintegrate them into society.
“My research is interesting because there is often a forced component with children joining these organizations, especially with Boko Haram,” she said. “You have a lot of children that have been kidnapped and forced to fight but as other researchers have highlighted, children are capable of having their own preferences and they can join groups of their own grievances and ideological underpinnings. So, we’re looking at how that pushes children to become involved with these groups too”
Although the ages of the children Warpinski has identified range from 8 – 17, she said that there have also been cases of babies that grow up within the organization since their parents are members.
Warpinski said her interest in her research stems from her interest in terror organizations and her passion for child advocacy.
“My research is a blend of my personal passions in the sense that I really aspire to fight for children. I want to give children a voice and I want them to not be subjected to violence,” she said. “I did a lot of research on child soldiering before my PhD program, and terrorist organizations have been a big focus of mine throughout all of my research. So, when I started researching children in terrorist organizations, I really got into understanding the roles children can play in these organizations. It’s a tragic situation.”
Warpinski, from Clarksville, Tenn., began her college career at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, where she received her bachelor’s degree in political science. Upon graduating from undergraduate college, she attended the Brussels School of International Studies, the University of Kent in Belgium where she received her master’s degree in international conflict and security.
She is currently a doctoral student studying political science with concentrations in international relations and research methods at Georgia State University. She came to Atlanta after the relocation of her husband but ultimately credits her decision to attend Georgia State for her Ph.D. because of the university’s stellar faculty and wonderful research initiatives.
“When my husband got relocated to Atlanta, I didn’t want to leave my previous doctoral program. However, I also knew I would be incredibly happy at Georgia State,” she said. “The university has amazing faculty and wonderful research initiatives.
Warpinski said the 2CI fellowship has assisted her in the development of her research abilities by allowing her to collaborate with already established and talented researchers in her field.
“Not only has it funded me, which is really important for any doctoral student, but 2CI has given me the opportunity to enhance my skillset and widen my knowledge of multiple fields, too” she said. “The collaborative nature has exposed me to multiple disciplines and given me a wide array of tools to answer questions both inside and outside of my areas of interest.”
– Kiana Colquitt, Graduate Administrative Assistant, Office of the Provost