Elizabeth Grasmeder

 Major- International Relations

Elizabeth M.F. Grasmeder is a third-year PhD student in the Department of Political Science at the George Washington University, focusing on International Relations and Research Methods. Her research interests include the composition and tactics of modern state forces, foreign fighters in the employ of the state, and irregular warfare. Elizabeth received an M.A. in Arab Studies from Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies in 2009, focusing on comparative politics in modern Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria. She also received a B.S. from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service in 2007, where she studied international politics and security issues in the Middle East. She is fluent in Arabic and French, and knows introductory German.


Current Research

Elizabeth’s dissertation examines states in the modern era that instituted programs to incorporate non-citizen troops—foreign legionnaires—into their national armies. Despite the conventional wisdom that modern states prefer to rely on citizen-based armies, this project examines numerous governments from the 19th to 21st centuries that have included foreigners in their armed forces, often on a sizeable scale. In investigating the factors that led states to first employ these troops and maintain them over time, this project develops a typology for governments that undertake the practice, ranging from active empires to counterinsurgencies. In so doing, this research complements existing scholarship on collaborators and foreign fighters in insurgencies and terrorist movements, while critiquing the traditional focus on citizen warfighters. The project aims to provide a fuller understanding of how considerations of material constraint, perceptions of loyalty, and nationalism influence the formation, development, and use of military power.


M.A., Arab Studies, Georgetown University
B.S., Foreign Service, Georgetown University