The World Policy Institute understands that policymakers and opinion leaders need creative ways to catalyze innovation and engage wider coalitions in solving some of the world’s biggest challenges. By working with artists focused on the same issues, this cross-cutting initiative seeks to build a new, collaborative model for social change.
In Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World, World Policy Institute Senior Fellow Ian Bremmer illustrates a historic shift in the international system and the world economy—and an unprecedented moment of global uncertainty.
Expertise: Migration, integration, immigrant identity formation, comparative migration policy, migration in the U.S., the U.K. and Germany, Muslim immigrant communities in the West, regional spheres of migration, displacement and statelessness, financial access in immigrant and minority communities, urban sociology, socioeconomic marginalization, the informal economy, undocumented migration, corporate social responsibility
Kavitha Rajagopalan is the author of Muslims of Metropolis: The Stories of Three Immigrant Families in the West, a narrative nonfiction examination of migration, integration and identity formation in three Muslim immigrant families – a Palestinian family from Jerusalem to London, a Kurdish family from Turkey to Berlin, a Bangladeshi family from Dhaka to New York City. Her research involved policy analysis, in-depth interviews and social immersion, and media monitoring, and took her to Germany, the U.K., the Palestinian Territories, India, Syria, and Turkey. Kavitha’s writing approaches broader migration policy and management debates through individual narrative, exploring the influence of economic and policymaking trends, as well as societal attitudes and individual experience, on the development of collective narratives of either alienation or belonging in immigrant communities. She is interested in finding meaningful policy solutions to global conflict and instability by understanding and harnessing the economic, social, political and cultural capital of migrants.
For the past four years, Kavitha has worked in the financial services industry, working in consultative capacities with international firms such as Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Frost & Sullivan. Her research into corporate social responsibility, predatory financial practices, international labor movements and issues, and financial management strategy allowed her to deepen her understanding of global corporate behavior and financial systems. As a result, she has expanded her work on migration and immigrant communities into the financial access arena, partnering with social justice and advocacy entities such as Appleseed and the Center for Social Inclusion, to research methods for expanding participation in traditionally marginalized communities in mainstream financial and economic systems.
She began her career in journalism, first for a news radio station in Berlin, Germany, and then as a city reporter for The New Indian Express and Chennaionline, in Chennai, India. There, she wrote a series of features on social services and identity in marginalized communities, ranging from municipal policies affecting migrant workers in periurban areas to public health and criminal justice practices affecting the social identities of homosexuals, transsexuals, transgendered individuals and sex workers. She covered water and land use, urban planning, and family health. She went on to intern at CNN Headline News before leaving journalism to work on communications. She has developed communications strategies for a number of national and local nonprofit organizations, as a communications associate for InterAction and in volunteer capacities with grassroots New York City food justice and community development organizations.
She was a recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship in political science, through which she studied political identity and lobby formation in Berlin’s Turkish community in 2000. In 2003, she was awarded the Foreign Language and Area Studies scholarship by the U.S. Department of Education to deepen her research on South Asian Muslim societies. In 2004, she was named a John J. McCloy Journalism Fellow with the American Council on Germany, researching Kurdish minority identity in Germany, focusing on religious subcommunities such as the Yezidi and Alevi, linguistic and regional sub-identities, and intracommunity political divergences. She received her Bachelor’s degree in international relations theory from the College of William & Mary and her Master’s of International Affairs in International Media and Communications from Columbia University’s School of International and Political Affairs.
MA, Columbia University School of International & Public Affairs
BA, College of William and Mary (International Relations Theory)
Tamil and Spanish (proficient),
- Languages of Study: Hindi and Urdu
- Participated in research study of caste, gender, and changing social structures in one diasporic Kurdish sub-minority: Heiratsverhalten unter Yeziden in Deutschland
- Co-organized and participated in a series of actions to
- commemorate the 40th anniversary of Turkish labor migration to Berlin at the Kreuzberg Museum
"Charitable Donation or Material Support for Terrorism?" PBS, August 18, 2010.
"The Border is a State of Mind," PBS, July 30, 2010.
"Anchor Babies," PBS, June 23, 2010.
Voices: My Media
Imagining Global Asia, New York, NY, October 2006
- Spoke on Muslim immigrant identity and perception of media in different Western cities. Interview presented as a short film on the IGA Web site.
- Helped develop conference format and presentation content for an audience of GS AML staffers worldwide, meeting to be debriefed on emerging issues and technologies in AML work.
Six Months After: Rebuilding, Reconstruction, Reconciliation
Columbia University, New York, NY March 2003
Organizer (Co-president, SIPA Responds)
- Planned day-long conference and organized a series of panel discussions and moderated open-mic forum through SIPA Responds.
EUROFOR Conference No. 32, Berlin, Germany, October 2000
- Attended as resident researcher at the European Migration Center, housed at the Berlin Institute for Social Research. Informally presented preliminary research findings on urban political identity.
- Organized and moderated a series of panels on different aspects of the immigrant experience in Berlin: political participation, elder care, education/school policy, cultural presence.
Bosnia & the Balkans: Reconstruction & Reconciliation
College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA 1999
Organizer, Student Presenter
- Organized conference as a culmination of a semester-long collaboration with Bosnian students from different ethnic backgrounds.
- Paper on religious reconciliation selected to be one of three student presentations.