In 2020, the Hudson Institute, together with The Hungary Initiatives Foundation (HIF), has created a Visiting Research Fellowship, a 10-month fully funded research fellowship at Hudson’s headquarters in Washington, DC. The opportunity is offered to a mid-career Hungarian policy professional with specific areas of interest in protecting religious freedom and promoting democratic sovereignty. This year we welcome Hanga Horváth-Sántha, as our first visiting research fellow.
Hanga earned her Master of Laws degree at the University of Stockholm, Sweden, including one year of master’s studies in Fribourg, Switzerland. She specialized in security policy at the Center for Asymmetric Threats and Terrorism Studies at the Swedish National Defence College and has through her professional career focused on radicalization into violent extremism and terrorism. She is currently completing her Ph.D. at the Faculty for Military Sciences and Officer Training at the National University for Public Service in Budapest, Hungary. In her research, Hanga investigates underlying causes of radicalization into Salafi Jihadism among second and third-generation immigrants in Western Europe. She has – among others – conducted interviews with former Jihadists as well as with Christian asylum-seekers fleeing from religious persecution. Her latest field research was the methodology of de-radicalizing the children of ISIS in Indonesia, including in-depth interviews with defectors.
Hanga currently lives in Ha Noi, Viet Nam, with her husband and two children, and joined the Centre for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute as a Visiting Research Fellow this September – for now, remotely. While at Hudson, the focus of her research will be the contemporary persecution of Christians with a special focus on the underlying Salafi Jihadist justification and ideology.
“The Hudson Visiting Research Fellowship is a great opportunity to contribute to the important work of a renowned research institute. It offers highly valuable knowledge, know-how and professional network to feed into a Hungarian as well as a Central Eastern European network of similar researchers.” – Hanga Horváth-Sántha
Previously, Hanga has held positions as Special Advisor at the Swedish Ministry of Justice, the Prime Minister’s Office (Crisis Management and Coordination Secretariat) as well as the Swedish National Police Board, focusing on issues related to the prevention of violent extremism.
She moved to Hungary in 2015 and worked as Senior Research Fellow at the Migration Research Institute, researching the nexus between migration in security. During the course of her work, she has conducted field research in several countries including Turkey, Greece, Northern Macedonia, Serbia, and Germany, and curated the exhibition on persecution of Christians in the Middle East at the Hungarian National Museum.
“Being on the field gives invaluable input to research. Immersion is inevitable for a deepened understanding as well as for better predictions.” – Hanga Horváth-Sántha
Hanga’s mentor at Hudson Institute is Nina Shea, Director, Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom – a well-known expert in her field. This was her first impression of Hanga:
“I am delighted that Hanga is joining us, particularly in light of her strong scholarship in Salafi jihadism and its impact on the Nineveh Christian community. After focusing on the religious genocide and its aftermath in Iraq’s Nineveh province, the Center is now concerned with the mass atrocities that are destroying and tearing apart minority communities in northern Nigeria. Hanga will bring a depth of expertise toward understanding the ideology, tactics and motives of the extremists in this expanding yet largely ignored crisis. I am confident that her study will make a significant contribution to the field of religious persecution where it intersects with violent extremism. I look forward to working with her to explore the policy implications of her research.” – Nina Shea, Director, Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom
In addition, Joel Scanlon, Hudson Institute’s Vice President for Studies expressed:
“We are delighted to partner with the Hungary Initiatives Foundation, and welcome Hanga’s expertise and contributions on these important issues.” – Joel Scanlon, Vice President for Studies
In her spare time, Hanga, a mother of two, enjoys spending time with her family above all. She never says no to a good book, theater, a good game of badminton, or to Hungarian folk dance. After the time at Hudson Institute, it is her aim to establish an internationally recognized research group in Hungary focusing on security policy, terrorism, prevention of violent radicalization, and contemporary persecution of Christians. Take a look at Hanga’s publications: