Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Hicham Bou Nassif

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Private citizens engaging in foreign conflicts have garnered increasing media and scholarly attention in the past couple of decades. Conflicts around the world have drawn the attention of private citizens seeking to actively participate for many reasons. However, most academic analysis of foreign fighters or volunteers has focused explicitly on Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) or individuals joining extremist or terrorist groups. No comprehensive study has focused on the motivations and reasoning of war tourists or foreign fighters joining non-terrorist organizations. This thesis explores the under-analyzed cross-section of foreign fighters participating in war zones, mainly focusing on fighters joining organizations not designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs). It will explore the linkage between dark tourism and war tourism as well as evaluate two case studies of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict and the Syrian Civil War. It will also assess the ethical implications of war tourists and their ability to access conflict or war zones as a form of vacation or personal exploration. Finally, it will examine the difficulties in the repatriation process. Ultimately, this thesis finds that while war tourists may overlap with general foreign fighters, they have distinct motivations that can lead to an increased likelihood of becoming career foreign fighters.