Documents are the main material of international politics. Yet, scant attention has been paid to how to analyze them. In an upcoming talk I will draw on my ethnographic research on the Contact group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) to argue that we should pay more attention to the practical logic of documents, that is, how they are actually produced. I revisit the main forms of document analysis and then provide a discussion of the production of the CGPCS’ main document, its so-called “communique”. I shall show how what the CGPCS does and how it works can be understood by paying close attention to this production process. The talk is part of the research seminar series of the School of Law and Politics. It takes place 13th April 2016 @ 1:00pm, 1.28, Law Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff. All welcome.
As part of my tour through the US, I will be giving two talks presenting some of the results of my ESRC funded research project on counter-piracy governance. On Wednesday, 30th of March I am giving a talk at the U.S. Naval War College. The talk is titled “Learning from the Fight against piracy: Lessons for maritime security governance” and draws on my article in Global Affairs as well as more recent results of my work with the CGPCS lessons learned project. On Friday, 1st of April I will give a presentation at McGill University’s Center for Peace and Security Studies. I will discuss the case of the High Risk Area controversy within the CGPCS, how a practice theoretical vocabulary allows to decipher this controversy, and what broader lessons for global governing the case holds.
From the 15th to 20th of March I will be attending the annual conference of the International Studies Association in Atlanta, US. As usual the ISA conference has a rich and diverse program and provides ample of opportunities to catch up with colleagues. This year I will talk about my Counter-Piracy Governance research project at two roundtables. At the roundtable titled “IR meets Anthropology (TD27, Thursday, March 17th, 4:00-5:45 PM, Pavilion 5, Hilton Atlanta) I will be talking about the relationship of practice theory and ethnography and how the experimentalist research logic provides direction for inquiry. At the second roundtable titled “IR and STS/ANT: Accounting for heterogeneities in the international” (FB26, Friday, March 18, 10:30 AM-12:15 PM, 305, Hilton Atlanta) I will be discussing how IR theory can draw upon concepts developed in Science and Technology Studies to gather a better understanding of how the assemblages of global governance are formed. I am also chairing the panel Making Central & Eastern Europe International: New Perspectives (WD74, Wednesday, March 16th, 4:00-5:45 PM, 313 Hilton Atlanta) which is organized by the journal New Perspectives and will be discussing the methodology of studying practices at the Critical Security Studies Methods Cafe (TA05, Thursday, March 17, 8:15-10:00 AM, Grand Ballroom B, Hilton Atlanta). We will also be holding an Editorial Board Meeting of the European Journal of International Security to plan for our forthcoming issues.
The University of Portsmouth is organizing a half-day conference titled “Counter-piracy and maritime security: addressing Security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea” on 9 March 2016. I will be attending and give a presentation titled “Maritime Security and the Blue Economy – understanding the link” which draws on a paper I am co-authoring with Jessica Larssen (Copenhagen). The paper explores the relation between the maritime security and blue economy agenda in the light of work on the security-development nexus. We argue for the importance of mainstreaming the maritime dimension of international security and development in a way that neither follows a “security first”, nor a “economy first” logic. The full program of the event is available here. Here is the summary of my talk: Continue reading
Practice theory is a theoretical perspective increasingly used across political science sub-disciplines. On Tuesday the 15th of December I had the pleasure to discuss with a range of colleagues how practice approaches can illuminate European diplomacy. In particular we discussed the benefits and disadvantages of the community of practice approach for the study of diplomacy as well as what methodological tools lend themselves to study diplomatic practices. The goal of the workshop was also to prepare a special issue on the theme, which will be forthcoming with the journal European Security.
On December 14th the G7 held a High Level Meeting on Maritime Security under the presidency of Germany. The meeting titled “Enhancing Maritime Security – Connecting Regions – Governing the Commons was a follow up to the Lübeck Declaration on Maritime Security of the G7 Foreign Ministers from April this year. At the one day event over 150 experts discussed four vital themes in maritime security: Maritime domain awareness and information sharing, maritime dispute settlement, illegal fishing, and the role of regional organizations in the provision of maritime security. I had the pleasure to participate in the meeting and chair the roundtable on regional organizations. The roundtable featured representatives from the International Maritime Organization, the Indian Ocean Rim Association, as well as the government of Togo which is currently organizing a major African Union summit on the theme. In the closing discussion I presented a summary of the roundtable themes. I stressed four vital points for furthering the discussion on maritime security.
The Luebeck declaration already highlighted the importance of the global oceans for economic prosperity. Further elaborating the link between maritime security and the blue economy is vital for promoting security at sea. If maritime security stands for the risks presented by the oceans, the blue economy emphasizes its opportunities. Recognizing the economic potential of the sea will enable to address the problem known as “sea blindness” and to present a convincing case to national publics, governments and states, including landlocked states, that maritime security is a priority area that needs investment and the will to cooperate.
Maritime security does not have a clear institutional home. It is an Inter-agency challenge and requires military-civil and inter-sectional cooperation. Stronger institutions at the country, regional as well as global level are required. But there is also the need to better clarify roles and responsibilities of each level. Country ownership is vital, yet, maritime security is a transnational challenge and many states will require assistance through capacity building and technology transfer from the international community. The G7 will continue to play an important role in driving the discussion on the global maritime security architecture forward and clarifying the rules and responsibilities of different national, regional and global institutions.
If maritime security requires better cooperation between states, trust and confidence building mechanisms, in particular at the regional level, are the key. There is clear evidence for the importance of mechanisms which include, but are not limited to, informal governance processes, such as the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, Codes of Conduct, such as those signed in Djibouti and Yaounde, joint exercises, but also intra-regional transfer of skills and technology, through capacity building, training, education and research. These mechanisms should be strengthened to build regional maritime security communities.
The fight against piracy is not over yet. Both the Gulf of Guinea and the situation in the Gulf of Aden will require continued attention and sustained efforts of the international community. The regional maritime security architecture in both regions will need to be strengthened. The participants welcomed the financial contribution of Germany for the implementation of the Yaounde Code of Conduct and the efforts of the government of Togo in preparing the Lome Summit on maritime security and development. In particular the Lome Summit of the African Union to be held next year will be an important milestone for African maritime security and ensuring that all forms of maritime crime in the continents waters will be effectively addressed.
The participants welcomed the strong leadership of the G7. The Luebeck declaration presented an important step for the discourse on maritime security. It was, however, emphasized that if the 21st century is a maritime century, the current discussion can only be the beginning. Sustained efforts in particular on elaborating the future of the global maritime security governance architecture will be required and the dialogue among maritime security experts, including university based scholars, needs to be intensified.
From the 23rd to the 24th November I attended the Galle Dialogue 2015, held in Galle, Sri Lanka. The Galle Dialogue is a major international multilateral meeting of navies in the Indian Ocean. Organised by the Sri Lankan navy, the dialogue attracted this year 300 participants from over 37 nations. The sixth installment of the dialogue, focussed on the theme “Secure seas through greater maritime cooperation”. The conference was opened by the prime minister of Sri Lanka, and included, among others, presentations by India’s chief of naval staff, Nigeria’s chief of naval staff, the deputy chief of staff from the Pakistan Navy, the State Minister of Defense of Sri Lanka, as well as representatives of UNHCR, IOM, and UNODC. The first day focussed on the contributions of different navies to maritime security in the Indian Ocean, while on the second day the issue of migration and international corporation to tackle ocean borne crime were discussed. As the only academic presenting at the conference, I discussed in my lecture the relationship between maritime security and the blue economy, and how more cooperative ocean governance structures might be set up. I drew on the results of the lessons learned project of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia as well as my ongoing ESRC funded project on maritime security governance. Further information on the Galle Dialogue, including the full program, papers, and videos, is available here.
On the 11th of November I gave a talk in the research seminar series of the Department of Politics and International Studies of SOAS. I presented my study on the piracy high risk area and the politics of this zone. Largely focusing on the empirical side of the story, I aimed at showing what kind of politics and sovereignty the establishment of such a zone of exception entails. Details of the event are available here, and you can listen to the talk here.
How do international and regional organizations, states and non-governmental organizations cooperate and relate to each other in security governance? This was the main question of a two day conference hosted by the Center for Security Studies of the ETH Zurich. The conference, held from 6th to 7th of November 2015, featured 19 presentations and was organized in four sections: 1) Global-regional, 2) inter-regional, 3) intra-regional links and 4) critical perspectives. I contributed to section four and argued in my presentation that assemblage theory gives us a great tool to study the diverse relations of new modes of security governance. Discussing the diverse relations that the piracy high risk area entails, I argued for the appreciation of complexity and grounding analysis in practical relations. The full conference program is available here.
What is the status of expertise in conflict resolution? Which crisis situations lead to the assembling of what forms of expertise and what gets included and excluded? Those were the questions addressed at an authors workshop organized by the Center for the Resolution of International Conflicts (CRIC). The two day event (22.-23.10.2015) brought together a range of experts in different fields of conflict studies from across the globe. Participants included, among others, Pinar Bilgin, Anna Leander, Ole Waever, Tom Biersteker, Trine Villumsen Berling, Keith Krause, David Chandler, and Peter Vale.
The discussion demonstrated how diverse the field of conflict expertise is and how varied the forms of knowledge included are. The manuscripts presented will be published as an edited volume in 2016. At the workshop I presented a reflection on Somali piracy expertise and how it has changed over the life cycle of the Somali piracy crisis on the basis of my own experiences. Here is the abstract of the paper titled ‘Experts in an Adventure with Pirates. The assembling of Somali piracy expertise’:
The 2012 animated comedy “The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!” tells the story of an encounter of a pirate crew with a scientist, set to be a certain Charles Darwin. The encounter leads to an unusual alliance that results in Darwin winning the “scientist of the year” award and the Pirate Captain succeeding in the “pirate of the year” competition. This chapter tells the story of an encounter of experts with Somali pirates set roughly at the same time when the movie hit the cinemas. I recast how different constellations of Somali piracy expertise were assembled in response to the emerging problematic situations. My story is told from the inside out. I start with a range of personal reflections on how I assumed the role of a piracy expert and use a range of personal encounters with fellow experts and with the governors of counter-piracy to develop a narrative of how Somali piracy knowledge was made. The results is an incoherent narrative of how piracy knowledge has moved as the crisis unfolded and was increasingly managed. I recast a movement from experience based questions (“best practices” on how to prevent and manage a piracy attack), to questions concerning the ‘legal finish’ (how to prosecute piracy suspects?), the long-term management and prevention of piracy (what are the causes of piracy and how can we prevent the emergences of piracy?), reflexive questions (what lessons can be learned from counter-piracy?) and to the problem of exit strategies (is the piracy crisis over and can the system put in place be reversed?). Following this life-cycle of the piracy crisis allows as to understand how different problematic situations assemble distinct expertise and how the expertise that matters changes over time.