Our Students

  • Manasa Bollempalli
  • Title: Ph.D. Candidate, Global Affairs, Rutgers University, Newark
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The RCI student support fund enabled me to present my doctoral research at the 16th Biennial Meeting of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), 10-14 July 2023, Barcelona, Spain. The theme of the conference, “Authoritarianism & Genocide: Narratives of Exclusion,” was an ideal meeting ground of scholars working on the historical and future implications of mass atrocities and genocide. In this context, the environment and climate change have massive ramifications for mass atrocity events, acting as a stressor for displacement, conflict, genocide, ethnic cleansing and competition. In my dissertation, I examined inclusive and exclusionary policy outcomes for climate displaced populations through four case studies. At IAGS, I presented findings from my paper (based on my US case study), (In)security and Climate Change: Displacement at the Door.

In my paper, I examine how among the 100 million refugees and displaced persons in 2022, the category of “climate refugees” has become more salient, yet countries still don’t know how to handle it. I specifically focused on “climate refugees” increasingly visible among Latino/Hispanic peoples from Mexico and Central America (Specifically, the Northern Triangle countries - Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala) fleeing multi-year drought conditions to the US Southwest border. In response, the entire asylum cycle was dehumanized with tiered regulatory measures and framed Latino immigration as a threat to American National Security. Here climate refugees are clubbed with economic migrants and face similar violations of their human rights, the principle of non-refoulment, and other obligations of the Geneva Convention. During the conference, I presented my findings on how US climate- and migration-security legislation conceptualize climate refugees at the southwest border, and how their different conceptual categories spills over into policymaking. Using computational network analysis and interviews with experts and practitioners, I demonstrated the variation in rationales and strategies to address Latin American climate displacement at the US Southwest border.

Attending conferences and engaging with experts in my field is a key aspect of academic life. Not only did presenting at IAGS introduce me to a variety of critical perspectives, but it also broadened the audience for my own scholarship and led to enriching collaborations. These opportunities are particularly critical for early-stage researchers such as myself. As a citizen of the global south, attending a conference in Barcelona meant navigating the stringent and long-winded immigration regimes in the US and in the EU, which are also fiscally exorbitant. The RCI student support fund helped ease some of this burden, and for that I am very thankful.

Manasa Bollempalli presents at the 16th Biennial Meeting of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), 10-14 July 2023, Barcelona, SpainPhoto: Manasa Bollempalli presents at the 16th Biennial Meeting of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), 10-14 July 2023, Barcelona, Spain