Beth Elise Whitaker is professor of political science and executive director of the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her research focuses on migration and security issues, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. She has done extensive work on African migration, exploring how political dynamics influence attitudes toward immigration, comparative refugee policy, and diaspora engagement in homeland politics. As a Fulbright Scholar in Kenya in 2005-2006, she conducted research on U.S.-African counter-terrorism cooperation. More recently, with a grant from the Minerva Initiative of the U.S. Department of Defense, Whitaker and colleagues launched the Resources and Conflict Project to examine how rebel groups’ illicit funding strategies influence conflict dynamics. Whitaker has conducted field research in Tanzania (1996-1998, 2003), Kenya (2005-2006, 2015, 2016), and Botswana (2005).
Whitaker is co-author with John F. Clark of Africa’s International Relations: Balancing Domestic and Global Interests (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2018) and her articles have appeared or are forthcoming in the Journal of Politics, Political Research Quarterly, African Affairs, Journal of Conflict Resolution, European Journal of International Relations, Journal of Peace Research, African Studies Review, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, International Migration Review, Third World Quarterly, and Journal of Refugee Studies, among others.
Whitaker is past chair of the African Politics Conference Group, a network of political scientists who study Africa, and was co-leader of the American Political Science Association (APSA) 2015 Africa Workshop on conflict and political violence. She worked previously at the Brookings Institution and the American Council on Education and has consulted for the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Defense, Social Science Research Council, United Nations Foundation, and Save the Children Fund. She received her Ph.D. in 1999 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.