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.
From 8–9 October 2015 I attended a workshop in Duisburg titled “Translations in World Politics”. The workshop brought together a crowd from IR, policy studies, and Science and Technology Studies to re-think how the concept of translation can made fruitful for the study of politics. The papers presented the different ways of using the concept. Some used it to refer to linguistic translation, while other drew on the extensive meaning as shifting situations and inscriptions. In the workshop I presented a first draft of my paper in which I theorize the High Risk Area controversy in the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. Starting out from assemblage theory and an understanding of translation as territorialization and de-territorialization, I argued that the best practice manual (BMP4) and the map of the High Risk Area present inscriptions of the entire counter-piracy assemblage.
That Anthropology and International Relations (IR) share a range of common interests is increasingly becoming more obvious. In consequence there is a thriving debate about concepts, methods and empirical observations between both disciplines. A growing number of researchers adopts the ethnographic spectrum of methods to study internationalized politics, ranging from bureucracies such as the police, to development work or international organizations and global governance. On June 10-12th I attended a workshop hosted by the University of Bremen and held at the Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg in Delmenhorst in which a range of forthcoming studies at the intersection of anthropology and IR were discussed. The organizers phrased the rationale for the workshop well, when they argued that “The promise of an anthropology of internationalized politics then is that the enlarged empirical basis and an enlarged theoretical language would allow for new theoretical growth. It would be based on an enlarged empirical experience (Erfahrung) and not just derived from conceptual discussion alone or from theoretical deduction that are then checked against a mass of numerical data. Such a research approach would start out with an enlarged understanding of what empirical data is, and it would try to interpret it with an enlarged theoretical vocabulary.”