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Kelly M. Greenhill
TRUSTEES OF TUFTS COLLEGE INC (Somerville, MA 02144-2401)
Extra-Factual Sources of Threat Conception and Proliferation in International Politics

A book-length study of extra-factual information in international politics.

When uncertainty is high, and verifiable facts are inconvenient or few, how do individuals learn about what to fear and how to respond to the threats they have identified? This book focuses on the key role played by threat narratives. I argue that across time and space some distinct and oft replicated patterns have emerged, whereby invented, embellished or simply unverified sources of security-related information materially, despite being unproven, inform and influence foreign and defense policy discourse and formulation. Marrying insights from cognitive, behavioral and political science, I hypothesize that by exploiting individuals’ cognitive, psychological and biological predispositions, enterprising actors can transform vague and inchoate objective sources of anxiety into proximate, and even existentially menacing, albeit unverifiable, security threats. To test my theory, I employ a combination of survey data and cross-national historical case studies, from the 19th-21st centuries.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
History, General; International Relations; Political Theory

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$33,600 (approved)
$33,600 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2017 – 8/31/2017