Fifth columns have appeared in countries around the world for centuries.
The term refers to groups accused of working with hostile countries to damage the population or government of their home country. These accusations create doubt about the loyalty and belonging of targeted populations, which can lead to human rights abuses, political repression and even ethnic cleansing.
A new book co-edited by Scott Radnitz, associate professor in the University of Washington Jackson School of International Studies, gathered scholars from multiple disciplines to write original papers on the roots and implications of the politics surrounding real and imagined fifth columns. Those scholars presented their papers at a workshop sponsored by the Simpson Center for the Humanities in 2019.
“Enemies Within: The Global Politics of Fifth Columns” was co-edited by Radnitz and Harris Mylonas, associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University. Both also wrote chapters.
UW News sat down with Radnitz to discuss the book, which will be available on July 15 from Oxford University Press.