Mass Expulsion: The Politics of Forced Population Removal
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, governments have expelled over 30 million people, en masse, around the world. Yet despite its prevalence, mass expulsion is an understudied phenomenon. More attention has been paid to the most heinous atrocities like genocide and mass murder, or forced migration more generally. This book examines why and how governments expel ethnic groups en masse. What motivates them to implement this extreme eliminationist policy and how do they decide to act? The book provides the first comprehensive account of mass expulsion—when and where it occurs, who is targeted, and what regimes are most likely to carry it out. It explains the two main logics of mass expulsion—security and economic—and introduces a typology of four different motives for expulsion: counter-irredentism, counter-subversion, reprisal, and nativism. The manuscript presents a theory of mass expulsion that documents the process of government decisions to expel including the key structural, proximate, precipitating, and intervening factors that shape the context and circumstances in which expulsion does or does not occur. Evidence is drawn from archival research conducted at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the League of Nations archives in Geneva, Switzerland, as well as from other primary sources, secondary historical sources, and extant datasets.
This research contributes to the fields of international peace and security, political violence, and forced migration. Conceptually it fills a gap in the literature by systematically examining mass expulsion as a distinct eliminationist policy that intentionally removes ethnic groups. Theoretically, the argument expands existing explanations beyond war and security threats, and contestation over territory, highlighting an entire class of expulsions targeting alleged economic threats. The book also deepens our understanding of critical atrocity restraints demonstrating the importance of alliances, the “homeland” state of the target group, and international organizations. These restraints generate core policy recommendations that aim to spur a greater focus on deterring mass expulsion as a matter of priority for atrocity prevention.