PACSA Meeting 2017 – Amsterdam

The Making of Peace, Conflict and Security
Dynamics of Inclusion and Exclusion

6th Bi-annual Peace and Conflict Studies in Anthropology meeting (PACSA)
28-30 August 2017, Amsterdam

Program

The preliminary program is now available here. The definitive program as well as detailed descriptions of all sessions, including abstracts, will be available soon.

Theme

Conflict and peace-making have fundamentally shaped and remade boundaries and relationships in the world we live in. These transformations include processes of inclusion and exclusion that accompany conflicts and the efforts to resolve, transform or secure them. Inclusion is commonly associated with peace rather than conflict, but violent means are often justified in inclusive or productive terms: the renewal of a unified people, the protection of a national economy, or the toppling of an old regime to make way for a more inclusive future. Whether it is peace-making, conflict or securitisation: boundaries, borders and relationships are frequently reified, contested or hardened through these processes. In this sense, both conflict and peace are interrelated ordering principles at the heart of which lie questions about inclusion and exclusion, relation and disconnection. As some are drawn into the centre of a violent cause, others might be ostracized, targeted or displaced as inevitable Others. Similarly, approaches to peace-making and conflict transformation – often seeking to be inclusive – might lead to unintended exclusive consequences: political settlements negotiated by elites can exclude the voices of marginal groups, or override calls for historical justice; and as peace-making tends to involve power struggles, its outcomes can lead to new grievances and renewed conflict.

In particular, security and forms of securitisation, as part of major ordering mechanisms, play a key role here. In the name of security, freedom is protected, borders are militarised and interventions justified, often in ahistorical, depoliticised ways. Metaphorically speaking, the boundaries between unpredictable outsiders and to-be-protected insiders must be guarded and reaffirmed: between nations and globalised flows of people, between security compounds and war-zones, between citizens and non-citizens and between the rich and poor. Questions about inclusion/exclusion are central to our understanding about how dynamics of peace, conflict and security interrelate. Moreover, these dynamics have an often suppressed and distorted temporal and historical dimension, as some histories are ignored and others are shaped, while long-term processes of inclusion and exclusion can become buried underneath the spectacular buzz and noise of immediate crises that claim moments of unprecedented truths.

In cooperation with the Anthropology of Security Network, SECURCIT (University of Amsterdam), the Dept. of Anthropology (VU University Amsterdam) and ‘Dynamics of Security: Forms of Securitisation in Historical Perspective.’

Panel Overview

1. Shaping Inclusive Political Settlements: Critical Approaches to International Peacebuilding
2. Ethnographic Explorations of Heterogeneity, Representation and Legitimacy in the Colombian Peace Process
3. Refugees Welcome? The politics of hospitality and care in Turkey and Europe
4. The making of war veterans: Analyzing the construction of a (post)war category
5. Security Provision and Citizenship: Privatization, Pluralization and Differentiation
6. Extra-Judicial Killings in a post-Human Rights era
7. Vigilantism and security in development
8. Public Events of Securitization; Public Events and Securitization
9. Security Assemblages in Urban Environments
10. Opposing Violence
11. Old wounds, new violence: How memory and anticipation affect boundary-making and exclusion in emerging crisis
12. Securitizing Infrastructure(s)
13. Urban policing and practices of b/ordering
14. Landscapes of Sovereignty: Everyday Life at the Margins of the State
15. Violent exchange and urban citizenship: transcending political and economic anthropology in conflict studies
16. Securitisation and the techno-politics of transition
17. South-South-Cooperation in Contemporary Peacekeeping
18. The radical – hero or frightening other?
19. Border practices of inclusion and exclusion
20. The Politics of Critical Security Research
21. Sacralizing Security: Postsecular Pathways of Religion, Violence and Protection
22. Displaced Narratives: Story-telling in studying war and displacement

Panel Abstracts

1. Shaping Inclusive Political Settlements: Critical Approaches to International Peacebuilding

Convenors: Dr. Astrid Jamar and Laura Wise, Law School, University of Edinburgh

International actors involved in peace processes and peacebuilding – such as third-party mediators, representatives of UN agencies, regional organisations or international NGOs – are increasingly seeking to encourage inclusive political settlements. Our panel aims to look critically at how these actors influence processes of inclusion, and the impact of these efforts in specific contexts. Different international actors promote diverse forms of inclusion, from the inclusion of armed groups into power-sharing institutions, to establishing spaces for women, minorities, or vulnerable groups to shape governmental agendas.

As theoretical ideas and tangible practices of inclusion continue to develop, this panel invites context-driven papers which address the role played by and aims of international actors in shaping inclusive peace processes. This could include: moral and political rationales for deciding who should be included or excluded; existing relationships between international and local actors, and the effects this has on inclusion; the role of international norms in guiding particular approaches; and how existing power relations are reproduced or challenged by international peacebuilding efforts. What are the unintended consequences of promoting particular forms of inclusion, and what challenges are presented by existing practices? We welcome contributions from scholars at all career stages.

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2.    Ethnographic Explorations of Heterogeneity, Representation and Legitimacy in the Colombian Peace Process

Convenors: Gwen Burnyeat (UCL) and Dr Jonathan Newman (Sussex)

This timely panel seeks to broaden critical discussion about local experiences of the Colombian peace process, probing issues of legitimacy and representation. When does heterogeneous, ethnographic refusal (Ortner, 1995) undermine politically expedient narratives of bounded, homogenous groups and their selected delegates? Contributions will explore tensions between the needs of hostile parities for reaching an agreement, and the development of democratic legitimacy for such agreements. Degrees of inclusion and exclusion shape these tensions.

The talks built from the pedagogy and practice of other peace processes. They addressed some problems from previous Colombian negotiations too.Paffenholz (2014) observes that although the involvement of civil society in peace processes improves legitimacy and sustainability, it also makes mediation more complex. Participation and consultation has limits. In the national referendum on the Havana Accord, 63% of Colombians did not vote, and a narrow majority of remaining voters rejected the deal. Ostensibly, the Colombian process aimed at inclusion of civil society and victims, but what can ethnography reveal about what that strategy meant in practice?

Myriad perceptions and narratives of the peace process exist. The constituents of groups that promoted ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ are multi-vocal actors, presenting differences of position within the group and individually contradictory positions too. Millions of less politically organised Colombians provide greater variation. Even supposedly ‘represented groups’ such as the army or victims are multiplicities. We look for contributions that provide a voice to those less heard about during the Colombian Peace Process and their positions of inclusion and exclusion.

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3. Refugees Welcome? The politics of hospitality and care in Turkey and Europe

Convenors: Dr. Hilal Alkan (EUME Fellow, Forum Transregionale Studien/ZMO, Berlin) and Dr. H. Pınar Şenoğuz (Philipp Schwartz Fellow, Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen)
This panel aims to critically explore the welcoming responses refugees, fleeing from the violent conflicts in their own countries, receive from the members of the host societies upon immigration to Europe, including Turkey. These responses are not solely determined by government policies regarding migration, border control and inclusion; yet they are always in dialogue with them. However, it is still possible to identify grassroots efforts to smoothen the transition of refugees and provide them with vital assistance and aid as well as tensions in local communities while receiving the refugees.

These local groups often advertise an ethics of care and hospitality, and act genuinely so. However, we argue against a mutually exclusive understanding of hospitality and hostility. This approach provides tools that allow us to situate the refugees and the locals at the same level, and reveal the workings of power, inequality, indebtedness and patronage as well as care and discipline in every encounter. All these intricate and intimate aspects of welcoming refugees have unforeseeably drastic effect on the questions of inclusion and exclusion, both in the present and in the future of host countries.

We particularly welcome submissions of papers based on ethnographic research and deal with the questions of hospitality/hostility, care and compassion in the context of the refugee influx with a critical eye.

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4. The making of war veterans: Analyzing the construction of a (post)war category

Organizers: Nikkie Wiegink (Cultural Anthropology, Utrecht University) and Ralph Sprenkels (Center for Conflictstudies, Utrecht University)

In this panel we aim to analyze the processes by which the status of war veteran is constructed, negotiated and contested. Contrary to what DDR literature envisions, former combatants occupy particular socio-political positions in postwar states; they may be privileged and receive benefits (e.g. pensions, allowances), be vilified as enemies, or something in between. The creation of veterans as an identity category is relevant for shaping political hierarchies, inclusion, allegiances and (renewed) animosities. Yet little comparative and theoretical reflection exists on the ‘making’ (or unmaking) of war veterans. In this panel we explore “war veteranship” as a constructed relationship between the state (or state-like institutions) and former fighters, a relationship that is concerned with granting value to previous wartime participation and that involves (the denial of) rights and privileges as well as a process of identity construction.

We invite papers that explore the making of veterans as bureaucratic, political and historical processes. Our interests include the roles played in these processes by a broad range of (inter)national actors and the interplay between the making of war veterans and other dynamics of peacebuilding or post-war transition. We particularly invite contributions that consider: the drawing of boundaries between veterans and non-veterans, including “grey areas” (such as deserters, militias, etc.); the co-existence of multiple veteran-categories in the same context; and the contestation and changing of veteran-categories over time.

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5. Security Provision and Citizenship: Privatization, Pluralization and Differentiation

Conveners: Lior Volinz (University of Amsterdam) and Carolina Frossard (University of Amsterdam)

A plethora of private and public security actors are increasingly involved in fulfilling security roles that were once perceived as belonging to the exclusive domain of the state police and military forces. This involvement takes a number of shapes: the outsourcing of policing services to private companies; partnerships between governments and military contractors, the pluralization of security to a growing number of state actors, and the self-responsibilization of citizens turned neighbourhood watchmen, or even vigilantes. These development entail not only the formation of new relations between public and private security providers, but also new relations and interfaces between security providers and different citizens.
The panel at hand invites abstract submissions from researchers that have been grappling with non-state involvement in security provision in a range of different contexts, and scales, from particular urban locales, to global geopolitics. We are particularly interested in the following themes:

  • The relationships forged between citizens and non-state security actors
  • The reconfiguration of state authority alongside the pluralization of security
  • Reflections on the introduction and diffusion of security practices, performances and materialities among and between state and non-state security actors
  • Emerging forms of citizen differentiation, as well as mobilization, in relation to non-state, or plural, security provision

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6. Extra-Judicial Killings in a post-Human Rights era

Conveners: Naomi van Stapele, (University of Amsterdam) and Jacob Rasmussen (Roskilde University)

The last couple of years have seen an upsurge in extra-judicial killings by the state worldwide, ranging from President Duterte’s politically instigated and systematic execution of drug dealers in the Philippines to police killings of Afro-Americans in the United States. The current rise of extra-judicial killings coincides with an increased global scepticism and critique of human rights and a proliferation of authoritarian leadership. These worrying developments call for in-depth investigations of these phenomena and of their (potential) relationships.

Extra-judicial killings, and the concomitant impunity of the perpetrators, play out differently across the world and engages the state in a variety of ways. Despite these variations, however, this phenomenon lays bare the differentiated values that are attributed to differently inscribed (human) bodies in a given society. As such, the dynamics underlying extra-judicial killings give expressions to historical inequalities and structurally reproduced racial, ethnic, class, gender (etc.) relationships. Accordingly, such killings raise questions of who decides who belongs to the nation and who doesn’t, for instance by bestowing the bodies of those deemed unfitting with guilt and responsibility, and ultimately through the practice of killing them.

Furthermore, extra-judicial killings are tightly connected to issues of raw power and the will to use unconstraint force. This stands in stark contrast to the humanistic ideals of the individual right to life and responsibility to give meaning to one’s life. At the same time, popular narratives that seek to legitimise such killings are moving away from a human rights discourse, while (implicitly or explicitly) criticising its universal application in situations of an imagined threat.

The panel invites empirically founded papers that seek to engage these dilemmas, and build towards a better understanding of both the political dynamics that produce extra-judicial killings and the ways in which these connect to human rights discourse and critiques.

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7. Vigilantism and security in development

Conveners: Laurens Bakker (University of Amsterdam, l.g.h.bakker@uva.nl) and Naomi van Stapele (University of Amsterdam, n.vanstapele@uva.nl)

With the interconnectedness of development and security recognized as a multi-actor, multi-interest issue, research is increasingly focusing on the roles and impacts of vigilantism. This panel explores the (possible) interactions between vigilantism and security issues in relation to development interests, arrangements and actors.

Despite growing recognition that governance is not the preserve of governments in many post-colonial political landscapes, emphasis in security assistance programs typically remains upon institutional reform to develop the capacity of states to provide security for their citizens. Even in instances where the state is not the principle referent for security, it continues to be considered the primary ‘agent of security’. Hence, ‘what already works’ on the ground is largely ignored or related to the domains of illegality and crime. Nevertheless, the activities of unofficial security groups frequently are condoned or even supported locally.

While the potential for violence of such groups sits uneasily with the use of violence as the prerogative of the state, states may lack capacities or motivation to enact this monopoly and may even be viewed as illegitimate by the wider population. Under such circumstances, vigilante groups may take up state functions, enjoy popular legitimacy and combine formally illegal activities with community development and force of arms. This panel seeks to gain a better understanding of the global and local dynamics underlying the emergence of vigilantism and its varied manifestations in post-colonial settings and how these relate to security issues in development endeavors. We invite contributions based on original empirical research that examine the roles of vigilante groups, activities and processes in broader security arrangements and development frameworks.

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8. Public Events of Securitization; Public Events and Securitization

Convenors: Prof. Eyal Ben-Ari (The Kinneret Center on Peace, Security and Society in Memory of Dan Shomron at Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee) and Dr. Limor Samimian-Darash (Federmann School of Public Policy and Government, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

This panel seeks to explore the mutual effects between securitization and public events. The term securitization refers to a set of techniques centered on perpetual alertness and individual “preparedness,” being continually on one’s guard against the emergence of any and all possible threats. By public events we refer to relatively large scale social occasions such as ceremonies and rituals, fairs and exhibitions, media and news events, national drills and rallies, or sports contests and entertainment presentations – or amalgamations of these). By take form we are interested in the way through which such public events of security are (variously) expressed, valorized, emphasized or transformed as well as the various means and ends they involve. We argue that public events are extremely fruitful sites for the exploration of security for a number of reasons: their sheer scale of participants (both real and virtual) involves large number of people and the attention they give to themes of security; in such occasions many of the ideas and themes normally hidden from view are often brought to the forefront; the logic by which they are put together (actors and audiences, stages and staging, and narratives and plots) are means for both reproducing and transforming ideas and affects of security; such events are characterized by multiple logics or rationalities we wish to explore. Along these lines, we seek papers that examine both ethnographically and theoretically the various facets of securitization and public events.

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9. Security Assemblages in Urban Environments

Convenors: Frank Müller (f.i.mueller@uva.nl) and Patrick Weir (p.s.m.weir@uva.nl)

In the past ten years, assemblage thinking has moved firmly into the mainstream social-scientific lexicon. As a heterogeneous theoretical apparatus with its origins in the thought of Deleuze & Guattari (1988) and systematised more recently by DeLanda (2006, 2015) assemblage thought also intersects with neo- materialist political ecologies (Bennett 2010), and actor-network theory (Latour 2006), and has informed critical empirical research in urban studies (Blok & Farias 2016), environmental anthropology (Li 2007), security studies (Bachmann et al. 2015) and political geography (Painter 2010).

This session invites contributions developing assemblage theory in relation to urban security, and specifically to its reconfiguration through hybrid forms of public-private security governance, in which heterogeneous and entangled actors, human and non-human, blur the line between state and non-state spheres of rule.

Given that assemblage emphasises emergence, multiplicity, indeterminacy and “experiments with methodological and presentational practices in order to attend to a lively world of differences” (Anderson & McFarlane 2011), the session seeks inter-disciplinary contributions that speak to the notion of security assemblages as complex and open-ended socio-material constellations, encounters and events. In particular we welcome papers that make empirically informed theoretical contributions to the analysis of urban securitization at the intersection of police, criminal groups, private security firms and their entanglements with objects, technologies and various forms of materiality.

Possible topics and themes include, but are not limited to:

  • Politics and agency in urban assemblages
  • Public/Private security encounters
  • Affect, materiality and urban securitization
  • Human-Non-human security assemblages
  • Assemblages of citizenship in urban contexts
  • Bodies, technologies and objects in urban security

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10. Opposing Violence

Conveners: Tobias Kelly (Professor for Political and Legal Anthropology, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh) and Andreas Hackl (ESRC Global Challenges Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh) 
Discussant: Mathias Thaler, Chancellor’s Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Politics, Director, Global Justice Academy, University of Edinburgh

What is at stake in opposing violence? If war and peace are deeply entangled within one another, what are the meanings and implications of attempts to prevent, ameliorate and overcome violence? Violence can take on many forms, such as symbolic, physical and structural. But what stands on the other side? States, international organization, NGOs and activists can all seek to promote peace and alternatives to violence. And even in the midst of violent conflict, actors as diverse as soldiers, religious figures, traders, armed groups, and ‘civilians’ can all try to create spaces where violence is held at bay.

However, the meanings of attempts to promote peace and oppose violence are deeply contested, ranging from absolute pacifism, to strategic non-violence, and pragmatic calls for accommodation. Moreover, the promotion of peace is frequently accused of being part of an elitist failure to address the causes of conflict, and of placing the value of non-violence ahead of other ways of combating injustice. At a practical level, attempts to oppose violence are also often met by sober outcomes: ideas brought by activists into local settings might not have their intended effects; conflict transformation approaches exclude important actors; realistic and effective means are rejected due to moral understandings or for political reasons. In this context, this panel seeks to examine the meanings and implications of attempts to promote peace and oppose violence, and their often complex relationship with violence, inequality and exclusion. We ask how and why do particular claims for peace or non-violence find resonance, amongst whom, in what ways, and with what implications? We invite papers that examine contexts that might include international conflict resolution, the norms restraint of low level-armed actors, the actions of peace or nonviolent activist, amongst many others.

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11. Old wounds, new violence: How memory and anticipation affect boundary-making and exclusion in emerging crisis

Convenors: Simon Turner (University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark) and Lidewyde Berckmoes (NSCR, Amsterdam, the Netherlands).

This panel seeks to understand how people devise strategies in times of emerging crisis. Specifically, the focus is on how memories – personal and communal – of past violence affect anticipations of new forms of violence and how that informs boundary-making and other safety-seeking strategies.

Crisis may become an established part of people’s lives and people may learn to live with on-going crisis. Yet even in situations of ‘chronic crisis’ (Vigh 2008), at times, a general sense of malaise and decline may be replaced by heightened levels of perceived danger and of radical uncertainty (Daniel 2000; cf. Berckmoes 2015): people start to imagine the escalation of crisis. In this panel, we explore how in times like these, past experiences of violence feed into anticipation of violence and subsequent action. Moving beyond explorations of how contemporary circumstances guide memory (e.g. Argenti & Schramm 2010), we draw attention to the role of potentialities and effects. We are particularly interested in how ‘anticipation’ affects how people draw boundaries between safe havens and dangerous spaces, us and them, or routes to engage or escape. Through the connections between memory, anticipation, boundaries and potentiality, the panel contributes to discussions on how lines for exclusion may be re-called or transformed in situations of heightened tensions, and on ‘how violence begets violence’.

This panel is open to paper proposals. We particularly encourage papers presenting ethnographic research that spotlights the intersection of temporal (memory, potentiality) and spatial (boundaries) aspects in unfolding crisis, serving de-escalation or triggering more violence.

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12. Securitizing Infrastructure(s)

Convenors: Prof. Dr. Andreas Langenohl, Andreas.langenohl@sowi.uni-giessen.de, Amina Nolte, Amina.nolte@gcsc.uni-giessen.de, Carola Westermeier, carola.westermeier@sowi.uni-giessen.de -Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, SFB/TRR ‘Dynamics of Security’ 

Over the recent years, scholars have initiated a much needed theoretical exploration into the ways in which the multifarious (im)material dimensions of infrastructural entities can be studied.

Infrastructure points to the central debates in the critical study of security as both a reference object of securitization and at the same time a means through which the need for securitization is produced. As such, infrastructure materializes discourses and practices of inclusion and exclusion. Further, infrastructure itself plays an agential role in constraining and enabling particular circulations. These circulations are the target of securitizing moves that pre-eminently aim at the protection of objects but ultimately aim to enable and manifest political and social hierarchies in the usage of infrastructure. Infrastructures are at the same time an important part of practices of securitization (surveillance tools etc.) that produce awareness of insecurities, which, in turn, legitimize the intervention into ongoing circulations.

Although the state is the most investing actor in forms of public infrastructure, the latter assemble all kinds of actors and agents, such as private security firms, security experts and investors (i.e. public-private partnerships). These span a constant field for security practices in which several non-state actors intervene into the making and managing of infrastructures.

The proposed panel aims at theoretically developing and empirically exploring how securitization and infrastructure are intertwined. We welcome contributions that deal with infrastructures as enabling and/or constraining circulation such as migration, financial flows, mobility infrastructure (trains, airplanes), the distribution of resources (water, oil etc.), data flows and beyond, while simultaneously producing dynamics of inclusion and exclusion.

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13. Urban policing and practices of b/ordering

Convenors: Maya Mynster Christensen, Danish Institute Against Torture (DIGNITY), mmc@dignityinstitute.dk and Peter Albrecht, Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), paa@diis.dk 
This panel explores how the state police engages in practices of bordering and ordering in urban spaces around the globe. Approaching bordering and ordering as interrelated processes, the panel focuses on how urban borders are produced, maintained and transgressed by the state police, and how this shapes the enforcement of particular political, social and moral orders.

From the international to the local level, and from the state to the street level, police forces are engaged in multiple processes and practices of bordering, which trigger dynamics of inclusion and exclusion. We invite papers that investigate how police forces engage in everyday constructions and enactments of b/ordering in cities across the global North and the global South. In what ways, and against what criteria, is human mobility contained, directed and differentiated through practices of b/ordering? How do police officers perceive of and negotiate their role in processes of bordering in and bordering out through, e.g., ethno-racial and religious profiling? How does selective law enforcement shape encounters and relations between police and policed? And how does it structure and produce urban dis/orders? Papers that engage such questions theoretically, conceptually and methodologically are encouraged.

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14. Landscapes of Sovereignty: Everyday Life at the Margins of the State

Convenors: Laust Lund Elbek, Annika Pohl Harrisson, Mikel Venhovens (Aarhus University) 
In recent years, the humanities and social sciences have witnessed a growing interest in the spatial dimensions of political life. Importantly, this has led to scholarly contestation of the Westphalian conceptualisation of states as spatially homogeneous entities. Correspondingly, political anthropology has become marked by a high degree of ethnographic attention to the margins of the state, i.e. spaces in which sovereignty continually has to be re-established and re-negotiated. This has been especially, but not exclusively, evident in the proliferation of border studies driven by the insight that everyday life at the borders of nation-states is often circumscribed by alternative forms of power and socio- spatial imaginaries.

It is within this context that we wish to draw attention to territory in its broadest sense as a central component of how states exercise power and materialise their existence as well as how people make sense of themselves as social and political beings. Through a foregrounding of the often tangled and paradoxical ways in which space and sovereignty are negotiated in practice, we see a potential for spatial thought to provide the grounds for a more imaginative type of analysis that moves beyond the dualistic power-resistance dichotomy that often characterizes studies of state-population relationships. With an emphasis on ethnography, this panel wishes to discuss theoretical as well as empirical dimensions of the intersection between state spatialisation and everyday life at the margins of the state.

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15. Violent exchange and urban citizenship: transcending political and economic anthropology in conflict studies

Convenors: Steffen Jensen and

What characterizes the relationships between money and violence in urban centers? Are they part of (violent) exchange relations? If so, how do these exchange relations influence structures of inclusion and exclusion in relation to urban citizenship? For poor urban residents in different parts of the world, belonging to the city is a process of inclusion marked by violent engagements with authorities. Urban populations encounter a variety of formal and informal authorities managing access to the city through different exchanges and transactions, under a constant presence of violence, implied or realized. Mutual agreements based on payments of money or services can lead to temporary peace which, however, is easily interrupted by surges of violence when the balancing of relationships and benefits is upset. In this panel, we explore what we call ‘violent exchanges’ between urban residents and policing authorities. With this concept we aim to capture the interrelatedness of ‘violence’ and ‘corruption’, which are often considered separately, and explore how violent exchanges animate urban citizenship. In this process we combine notions of exchange, relationships and value production with questions about local authority and governance, and questions about cities and the urban. The focus on violent exchange allows us, we hope, to contribute to the emerging literature that transcends economic and political anthropology which often compartmentalize money and violence respectively.

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16. Securitisation and the techno-politics of transition

Convenors: Fabio Mattioli (New York University, Faculty Fellow, Center for European and Mediterranean Studies) and Agathe Mora (University of Edinburgh, PhD candidate, Social Anthropology). Dimitris Dalakoglou has kindly agreed to act as discussant.

Transitional spaces, such as post-war Kosovo, post-disaster Haiti or post-socialist Macedonia are generally articulated as liminal stages of state-building, destined to usher in better, democratic and inclusive state institutions. During the transition, quick-fix and other extraordinary technical solutions are often justified as pragmatic, necessary, or deemed ‘reasonable’ given the ‘transitional’ circumstances. Such practices, in areas ranging from law enforcement, private property and privatisation, the banking system, and the design of state institutions generate systems of governance that are often at odds with ideals of democracy and human rights that motivated international investments and intervention in the first place.

These democratic shortcomings are even more pronounced given the turn to securitisation in international development over the past fifteen years. As these quick-fix practices become engrained, the transitional moment is perpetuated, justifying in turn the continuation, or introduction of new, illiberal measures. How are transitional systems of governance reshaped by the worldwide growing concerns around security? What is the impact of the current climate of ‘crisis’ (economic, security, migration) on those quick fixes?

This panel seeks ethnographically grounded papers that chart the tensions between the professed liberal values of investments in transitional settings and the illiberal outcomes that are produced by these settings in times of ‘crisis’.
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17. South-South-Cooperation in Contemporary Peacekeeping

Andrea Steinke, Freie Universität Berlin (andrea.steinke@fu-berlin.de)
Frank Müller, University of Amsterdam (f.i.mueller@uva.nl)

While the UN Security Council is dominated by states of the Global North, African, Asian and Latin American countries predominantly provide the troops for today’s sites of UN peacekeeping interventions. The vast majority of the 16 UN missions currently deployed are located in those regions, too. Brazil for example is in charge of the troops of the UN stabilization mission to Haiti, MINUSTAH.

This panel invites to inquire the contribution of troop providing countries from the Global South to the Global South. The conveners are particularly interested in anthropological case studies that assess the following aspects of South-South cooperation in peacekeeping:

  • The manifold political and economic motivations of troop contributing countries from the Global South;
  • the ways in which an assumed “Global South identity” in both sending and receiving countries affects the legitimacy and the efficiency of UN peacekeeping missions;
  • the dynamics of in- and exclusion at UN executive level, within the different parts of peacekeeping missions (civil, police and military from different national backgrounds), and in relation to the populations they serve;
  • the increasing entanglements of humanitarian and military strategies and practices in governing populations and territories as part of “armed social work” (Kilcullen 2010) and the role anthropology plays in this nexus.

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18. The radical – hero or frightening other?

Convenor: Nerina Weiss

Given multiple understandings and enactments of radicalization as well as their changing nature in time and space (Sedgwick 2010) we are highly critical to the common use of radicalization as an analytical approach to violent extremism and terrorism. We argue that notion of the radical is not only employed in the terrorism/democracy dichotomy, but is equally framed in terms of politics, resistance, justice and victimhood, and as inherently democratic. Understandings of radicalization and the radical have not only evolved historically, but are heavily influenced by geopolitical events and partly constituted by transnational discourses.

In this panel we therefore ask, how the figure of the radical is perceived by different actors, in different contexts and at different times. How are these different, often contradicting notions of that figure enacted in everyday encounters, policy documents and social/political norms? We are especially interested in keeping this panel open to exploring different forms of radicalization. We therefore invite contributions that explore the figure of the radical in different geographical and temporal contexts and from different analytical angles. When and how is the radical perceived as the frightening other, and when the person’s violent intentions are considered far less as a threat to the national collective, how the term is appropriated or rejected by those labelled with it, and not least how the radical is currently employed as the ‘frightening others’ by media, front-line practitioners and policy makers.

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19. Border practices of inclusion and exclusion

Convenors: Perle Møhl, (University of Copenhagen) and Monika Weissensteiner (University of Hamburg & Utrecht University)

Borders and the practices through which they are erected and maintained, facilitate the crossing of certain people, goods and capital while hindering that of others. Border practices are thus central for understanding processes of inclusion and exclusion. Indeed, as outlined in the conference theme, “the boundaries between unpredictable outsiders and to-be-protected insiders must be guarded and reaffirmed” when security becomes an ordering principle.
In this panel we wish to address 1) processes of inclusion and exclusion as they unfold through border practices and the (inter)action of particular actors, technologies and forms of knowledge; 2) the sorts of broader conflicts that produce and are incorporated into increased calls for, and practices of, border security, and 3) the dilemmas, (mis)understandings, negotiations, solutions, and conflicts that emerge out of such “filtering” practices and that aim to both facilitate (include) and contrast (exclude).
We welcome papers grounded in ethnographic research that focus on a variety of different aspects and actors involved in securing Europe’s internal and external borders – both physical borders as well as more conceptual, localized, mobile and ephemeral borders – , for example, security professionals, police and military border guards, crime investigation teams, immigration officers, NGOs, humanitarian workers, lawyers, as well as a wide variety of technologies, policies and legislative material involved in border work.
Considering the shift in critical border and security studies towards an increased focus of practices, we aim to reflect upon what an anthropological analysis may contribute to the growing and interdisciplinary field of border and security studies, and what are the methodological and epistemological issues to consider. As such, the panel aims to bring together researchers working on different aspects of border- and security practices and to create a shared and interactive space with the aim to stimulate further collaborations.

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20. The Politics of Critical Security Research

Convenors: Ana Ivasiuc, Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany, ana.ivasiuc@sowi.uni-giessen.de

Security discourses naturalise and legitimise the status quo through the construction of outsiders as threats to established political, economical, social and moral orders. Researching ‘security’ in our days of growing insecurity is thus far from being ethically light. The making of ‘security’ rests upon processes of identity construction and dynamics of inclusion and exclusion which demand relentless reflection and vigilant rigour on the analytic frames and concepts academics appropriate in their research, in order to avoid the uncritical reproduction of exclusionary security talk and its naturalised frames. One must carefully ponder the analytical, but also political risks of utilising in research establishment-sanctioned categories such as ‘terrorism’, ‘refugee crisis’, ‘illegal immigrant’, so pervasive in contemporary securitarian discourses. One crucial aspect in this intellectual vigilance is a lucid analysis of the power to define threats, and of the power of definitions to exclude people labeled as potential threats.
The panel is aimed at gathering for a future publication contributions from a multidisciplinary perspective. Researchers from a broad range of disciplines are invited to reflect on the politics in which they engage when conducting research on people or phenomena labeled as threats. What reflections lie behind the choice of concepts and frames in security studies? In this time of increasing insecurities, what political and intellectual roles can the researchers think through for themselves and their writings? (How) Can researchers engage in meaningful ways and mitigate public insecurities through their work? What would a politics of security research have to entail in multidisciplinary contexts?

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21. Sacralizing Security: Postsecular Pathways of Religion, Violence and Protection

Convener: Martijn Oosterbaan (Utrecht University)

Studies about religion and security generally focus on religious terrorism and religious fundamentalism and center on the questions if and under what circumstances orthodoxy engenders violent action or can lead to peaceful initiatives and reconciliation. While these are important questions, we encounter a host of other conjunctions between religion and security that remain somewhat underexplored. In many places around the world, state and non-state security organizations and individuals regularly make use of or are identified by religious doctrines, practices and imageries. Vigilante groups, criminalized gangs and militias frequently cultivate relations between their daily practices and transcendental forces that sustain their status, community and power and are thought to protect them from harm. Likewise, state security forces may not be regarded as ‘religious’ by the outside world – for instance in presumed secular contexts – but nevertheless engage in sacralizing activities that seek to enhance divine protection or demonize adversaries. This panel aims to discuss the intersecting pathways between religion, violence and protection with a postsecular perspective in mind, going beyond approaches that picture the relation between religion and security as causal or dichotomous. The panel invites contributions from scholars whose work may explore explicit conjunctions between religion and security – for example focusing on self-identified religious actors that play a role in contemporary conflicts – and it also invites those whose work explores other, unexplored convergences between religion and security in global contexts.
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22. Displaced Narratives: Story-telling in studying war and displacement

Convenors: Katarzyna Grabska, Senior Research Fellow, The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, katarzyna.grabska@graduateinstitute.ch, & Cindy Horst, Research Professor and Research Director, Peace Research Institute Oslo, cindy@prio.org.

There is increasing attention to the power of individual and collective stories in academia and beyond. Stories inform the actions of human beings and impact where they are moving, individually and as a society. Individuals – including researchers and their informants – activate new stories that transport others to new points of view and can change meaning, action and thus the future. As bell hooks argues, theorizing about personal experience not only posits the personal as critical to understanding socio-political social boundaries; but makes it possible to consider how the personal provides room to create alternative narratives. To what extend can storytelling be used as a method to study war, peace and displacement? In this panel, we take four different story-telling methods to unravel the complexities of inclusion and exclusion that accompany the trajectories of refugees and displaced people. Our contributors look at innovative use of graphic design, literature and poetry, film and therapeutic performance, and the traditional life history method, as tools to research and analyse refugee and displaced populations’ own experiences of inclusion and exclusion during war and exile. In what ways do these methods reveal different understandings of the temporal and spatial aspects of displacement? What are the challenges in designing such research, and what type of insights can we develop as researchers? What are the limits in using a story-telling approach? How is this approach a way of excavating both hidden agency and power hierarchies in displacement?
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