Theodore Baird

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Post-doc researcher

Curriculum vitae
My research focuses on two migration industries: the clandestine business of human smuggling and the border security industrial complex. My first book, Human Smuggling in the Eastern Mediterranean, explores human smuggling through what I call a ‘contingency framework’. It argues that human smuggling arises from structures, relations, and mechanisms across multiple scales and conditions, allowing us to make connections between clandestine migration and contingent historical, geopolitical, and geoeconomic changes. 

Currently, as a member of the Human Costs of Border Control Project, I conduct research on the privatization of border security, new technologies of border surveillance, and how these have affected border control policies in Europe and the European Union. I am interested in using theories from across disciplines and working with multiple methods to explore answers to questions about migration industries and politics. Through living and working in Turkey, I also pursue research and commentaries on Turkish politics. I received my PhD in Social Science from Roskilde University and the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) in Denmark in March 2014, and a Masters in Migration Studies from the University of Kent Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS) in 2010.

Before becoming a researcher, I worked as a teacher and served as a Peace Corps volunteer.
Educational activities
I lecture for the course Human Rights and the Border and provide support to the course Human Rights and Citizenship.

Research activities
I currently conduct research in the programme “Border Policies and Sovereignty: Human Rights and the Right to Life of Irregular Migrants,” a Vici grant headed by Prof. Thomas Spijkerboer.

I am preparing various manuscripts on the influence of the border security industry on European migration policies.

Human smuggling and trafficking, undocumented and irregular migration, border security, border control, border surveillance, Turkey, European Union

Main publications

  • Commentaries at openDemocracy
  • Baird, Theodore (forthcoming) Human Smuggling in the Eastern Mediterranean. Routledge Studies in Criminal Justice, Borders and Citizenship. Abingdon and London: Routledge
  • Baird, Theodore (2016) ‘Surveillance Design Communities in Europe: A Network Analysis’, Surveillance and Society, 14 (1): 34-58.
  • Baird, Theodore & van Liempt, Ilse (2016) ‘Scrutinising the Double Disadvantage: Knowledge Production in the Messy Field of  Migrant Smuggling’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 42 (3): 400-417. DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2015.1103172
  • Baird, Theodore (2016) ‘Who Is Responsible for Harm in Immigration Detention? Models of Accountability for Private Corporations’, Global Detention Project, Working Paper No. 11, Available online.
  • Baird, Theodore (2016) ‘Defining Human Smuggling in Migration Research: An Appraisal and Critique,’ EUI Working Paper, 2016/30, European University Institute,  Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS), Migration Policy Centre
  • Roman, Emanuela, Theodore Baird, and Talia Radcliffe (2016) ‘Why Turkey is Not a ‘Safe Country’,’ Statewatch Analysis, No 3/16, February 2016, Available online at:
  • Baird, Theodore (Online first 13 October 2015) ‘The Geopolitics of Turkey’s ‘Humanitarian Diplomacy’ in Somalia: A Critique’, Review of African Political Economy, DOI: 10.1080/03056244.2015.1084913
  • Baird, Theodore (2015) ‘Functional Actorness? Border Security in the EU and Turkey’, International Journal of Public Administration, 38 (12): 849-859, Special Issue: Understanding EU Actorness Today: The Role of Crisis on the Division Between EU’s Internal and External Actions and 
  • Practices. DOI: 10.1080/01900692.2015.1015548
  • Baird, Theodore (2015) ‘L’industria del confine,’ inTrasformazione, Vol 4, N° 2.
  • Baird, Theodore (2015) ‘Nigerian entrepreneurs in Istanbul, Turkey: spatial and temporal dimensions of mixed embeddedness,’ IMI Working Paper Series, 07/2015, Volume 115, International Migration Institute (IMI), University of Oxford.
  • Baird, Theodore (2015) ‘Trafic d’êtres humains et torture au Sinaï,’ Revue Quart Monde, N°233, 2015/1, Special Issue: ‘Esclaves d’hier et d’aujourd’hui’
  • Baird, Theodore (2014) ‘Watching the Ball: Deception and Exploitation from Nigeria to Turkey’, Turkish Review, 4 (4): 370-377. Special Issue: ‘Turkey and Africa: A Voyage of (Re)discovery’
  • Baird, Theodore (2014) ‘Human Smuggling and Violence in the East Mediterranean’, International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, 10 (3): 121–133. DOI: 10.1108/IJMHSC-06-2013-0010
  • Baird, Theodore (2013) ‘Theoretical Approaches to Human Smuggling,’ DIIS Working Paper, August 2013:10.
  • Baird, Theodore (2013) ‘Understanding Human Smuggling as a Human Rights Issue,’ DIIS Policy Brief, August 2013.
  • Baird, Theodore (2013) ‘Israël et les réfugiés,’ Vivre Ensemble, February 2013.
  • Baird, Theodore (2012) ‘Le Sinaï et le trafic d’etre humains,’ Vivre Ensemble, December 2012.

All VU University Amsterdam-publications, via Metis.

Postal address
VU University Amsterdam
Faculty of Law
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam