December 2022 Monthly Digest - Twelfth digest of 2022

The Monthly Digest is a resource provided by Security in Context that provides a list of recent publications, calls, conferences and other items relevant to the critical global, security, and international political economy studies audience. In addition to new items, our digest may contain relatively recent entries, so please double check dates on any calls or conferences. All descriptions taken from their original sources unless otherwise indicated. If we’ve missed something, or you have items you’d like to contribute for future digests, please email us at:


Securitization Outside the West

West African Security Reconceptualised

By Christian Kaunert, Edwin Ezeokafor

This book analyses securitization processes outside of the West, with a focus on Africa.

The aim of the volume is to develop an original analytical framework to explain the securitization-neo-patrimonialism dynamics in West Africa, drawing upon insights from securitization theory, sociology and psychology. Among critical voices, securitization has become the gold standard for analysing emerging challenges, such as migration, terrorism, and human security. Yet, despite its broadening agenda, the framework has also been accused of bias, with a Western political context and democratic governance structure at its heart. This book aims to re-conceptualise the framework in a way that suits non-Western contexts better, notably by re-conceptualising the securitization-neopatrimonialism nexus in Africa, which gives us significant new insights into non-Western political contexts. It analyses the securitization processes among the political elites under neo-patrimonial statehood, and further stretches the conceptualisation of securitization into African statehood, which is characterized by a blurred line between the leader and the state. The volume explores the processes of securitizing threats in Liberia, Sierra Leone and wider West Africa, as well as the neo-patrimonial regimes of these states. In doing so, it explores the influence these states’ neo-patrimonial regimes have on the processes of threat securitization.

This book will be of much interest to students of critical security studies, African politics and International Relations.

The Ends of Paradise

Race, Extraction, and the Struggle for Black Life in Honduras

Christopher A. Loperena

The future of Honduras begins and ends on the white sand beaches of Tela Bay on the country's northeastern coast where Garifuna, a Black Indigenous people, have resided for over two hundred years. In The Ends of Paradise, Christopher A. Loperena examines the Garifuna struggle for life and collective autonomy, and demonstrates how this struggle challenges concerted efforts by the state and multilateral institutions, such as the World Bank, to render both their lands and their culture into fungible tourism products. Using a combination of participant observation, courtroom ethnography, and archival research, Loperena reveals how purportedly inclusive tourism projects form part of a larger neoliberal, extractivist development regime, which remakes Black and Indigenous territories into frontiers of progress for the mestizo majority. The book offers a trenchant analysis of the ways Black dispossession and displacement are carried forth through the conferral of individual rights and freedoms, a prerequisite for resource exploitation under contemporary capitalism.

By demanding to be accounted for on their terms, Garifuna anchor Blackness to Central America—a place where Black peoples are presumed to be nonnative inhabitants—and to collective land rights. Steeped in Loperena's long-term activist engagement with Garifuna land defenders, this book is a testament to their struggle and to the promise of "another world" in which Black and Indigenous peoples thrive.

Breaking Intersubjectivity

A Critical Theory of Counter-Revolutionary Trauma in Egypt

Vivienne Matthies-Boon

Trauma is commonly understood as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Yet, as this book explains, the concept of PTSD is problematic because it is rooted in a solipsist Philosophy of the Subject. Within such a philosophical perspective, it is not only impossible to account for trauma’s causality, but the traumatic ‘event’ is also prioritised over traumatic social and political structures as trauma is depoliticised as an (individual) internal cognitive object.

Rooted in Frankfurt School critical theory, this book thus urges us to rethink the concept of trauma: trauma should not be understood as impaired subjectivity but rather as broken intersubjectivity. Hence, it not only presents a critique of the notion ‘PTSD’, but – drawing on the philosophies of Jurgen Habermas, Nancy Fraser, Rahel Jaeggi and Heideggerian trauma theory in particular - it argues that trauma entails the violent imposition of traumatic status subordination. In traumatic status subordination, intersubjective parity (the counterfactual presupposition of being treated as an equal human being) is so violently betrayed that the symbolic realm of the lifeworld collapses. As the lifeworld collapses, one suffers an atomized state of speechless disorientation, wherein the potential of creative collective becoming is destroyed. In this sense, human induced trauma should thus be understood as a political tool par excellence.

As this monograph indicates, traumatic status subordination was a tool which the Egyptian counter-revolutionary actors (consisting of the Egyptian military, and its temporary subsidiary the Muslim Brotherhood) used unsparingly as they attempted to put the revolutionary genie back into the bottle. Importantly, the Egyptian military not only sought to destroy the object of revolutionary politics, but rather the underlying existential structures of the possibility of its very existence as such. And thus, in the violent instrumental pursuit of economic and political power, the counter-revolution inflicted multileveled status subordination. It did so through a consistent tripartite structural mechanism: the infliction of grave (deadly) violence, the procedural colonisation and repressive juridification of the public sphere, and the acceleration of neoliberal economic rationalism. This not only accumulated in Sisi’s prisonification of society and his politics of death, but rather also threw activists ever deeper into an atomized state of demoralized silence as it destroyed the very potential of revolutionary and transformative becoming.

Journal Articles / Papers

Topologies of power in China’s grid-style social management during the COVID-19 pandemic

Sabrina Habich-Sobiegalla and Franziska Plümmer

This article analyses the organization of Chinese grassroots social management during the COVID-19 pandemic. Drawing on a range of local cases researched through policy documents, media coverage and interviews, we scrutinize the appropriation of emergency measures and the utilization of grid-style social management since the outbreak of COVID-19. Grid-style social management – a new grassroots administrative division aiming to mobilize neighbourhood control and services – is a core element in China’s pursuit of economic growth without sacrificing political stability. Conceptualizing grids as confined spaces of power, we show how the Chinese party-state is able to flexibly redeploy diverse forms of power depending on the particular purpose of social management. During non-crisis times, grid-style social management primarily uses security power, casting a net over the population that remains open for population elements to contribute their share to the national economy. Once a crisis has been called, sovereign power swiftly closes the net to prevent further circulation while disciplinary power works towards a speedy return to a pre-crisis routine.

Proposals at Reykjavik to End the US-Soviet Arms Race

Shahin Berenji

Why do decision makers undertake bold conciliatory gestures? It is puzzling why leaders accommodate their rivals in such a way when smaller, less risky avenues exist to initiate conciliation. To shed light on this question, I examine Mikhail Gorbachev’s decision to present an unprecedented package of arms control proposals at the Reykjavik summit. In one stroke, he made concessions to the United States on missile defense and strategic and intermediate-range nuclear weapons. Gorbachev believed he needed to reassure the Americans, particularly President Ronald Reagan, of the Soviet Union’s benign intentions and therefore made concessions that addressed US fears and security concerns. I argue that these concessions constitute empathic signals designed to communicate Gorbachev’s sincerity in reducing nuclear weapons. In the event his offer was rebuffed, Gorbachev would reveal his proposals to mobilize public opinion against Reagan. These strategies may seem contradictory but fit Gorbachev’s overall plan to challenge the Soviet Union’s threatening image and, in doing so, either persuade or pressure Reagan into reciprocating Soviet concessions.

Uncompensated Allies: How Contracting Companies and U.S. Government Agencies Failed Third-Country Nationals in Afghanistan

Noah Coburn, Peter Gill 


This paper examines labor abuses during the war in Afghanistan, focusing on how the U.S. is denying legally-required compensation to foreign workers in war zones. The U.S. government leaned heavily on contractors to do its essential work during the war in Afghanistan. In 2020, approximately 65% of wartime contractors were citizens of Afghanistan or a third-party country, such as Nepal. This paper focuses on how the U.S. military and Department of Labor have done little to enforce the U.S. Defense Base Act (DBA), which calls for the provision of compensation to all workers, regardless of their nationality, injured under U.S. contracts, and for the provision of financial compensation to their kin in case of death.

Job Openings/ Fellowships

Call for Papers: European Centre for Palestine Studies and IAIS at University of Exeter Conference

April 3 & 4, 2023 / Exeter and hybrid

Deadline for applying: January 5, 2023.

The European Centre for Palestine Studies and the Institute for Arab and Islamic Studies at University of Exeter are organizing a conference for 3-4 April 2023 with the title “Transnational Solidarity amongst (Settler) Colonised Peoples: Palestine and beyond”.

Yale University, Jackson School of Global Affairs

Postdoctoral Fellowships with the Leitner Program on Effective Democratic Governance at Yale, 2023-24

Yale University’s Leitner Program on Effective Democratic Governance housed at the Jackson School of Global Affairs is seeking applications for a Postdoctoral Associate with strong training in political economy and quantitative methods. We are interested in candidates who study the effects of regime type, electoral systems, and the rule of law on the economy with particular attention to economic growth, regulation, social protection, and the performance of financial markets. The Postdoctoral Associate will work with a Yale group led by Professor Ian Shapiro.

This is a full-time position.The Postdoctoral Associate will spend fifty percent of their time working collaboratively on this project and the other fifty percent pursuing their own research.

The appointment period will run for twelve months, starting in July 2023.  Fellows will be expected to be in full-time residence at Yale for the duration of their appointment.

Nazareth College - Rochester, History, Politics and Law

Assistant Professor - International, Comparative, or Global Politics

The History, Politics, and Law Department at Nazareth College invites applications for a full-time tenure-track appointment in International, Comparative, or Global Politics to begin in August 2023.

The successful applicant will teach international relations, global studies, and comparative politics courses and direct the International and Global Studies Program. Area of expertise is open, but preference will be given to candidates with a background in the Global South or international law. In addition, preference will be given to candidates with the ability to contribute to our programs in Legal Studies, Women and Gender Studies, Global Sustainability, and other interdisciplinary programs focused on global issues and cultures. The standard teaching load is four courses per semester.

Ph.D. in political science is expected at the time of employment. However, ABD candidates may be considered if they anticipate a successful defense of their dissertation by May 2023.

Review of applications begins January 9, 2023.


The Landscapes of Insecurity 

The inaugural Security in Context conference titled Landscapes of Insecurity that was held September 16th & 17th at the University of Oklahoma Norman in collaboration with the Center for Peace and Development.

Matteo Capasso - War, Waste, and the Destruction of Libya

In this video, Matteo Cappasso presents his research in Libya as part of the "Financialization and War Economies" session. Matteo Capasso is a Marie Curie Global Fellow between Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy, and Columbia University in the City of New York, US. He was previously a Max Weber Research Fellow at the European University Institute and Visiting Fellow at the University of Turin. Capasso is the author of the upcoming monograph, "Everyday Politics in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya," which reconstructs the last two decades of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, leading up to the 2011 events that sanctioned its fall. His current project focuses on the study of US-led imperialism through the Libyan microcosm. Capasso's research interests include political history, everyday politics, and international political economy, with a focus on the modern Middle East and North Africa and the Global South at large.

Min Ye - The US-China Rivalry From TPP to BRI and FOIP

In this video, Min Ye presents about the rivalry between the United States and China in the context of the Trans Pacific Partnership, Belt and Road Initiative, and Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy. Ye's presentation is part of the "Multipolarity Research Track" session. Min Ye is Associate Professor of International Relations at the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University. Her research focuses. on domestic and global politics within security and economics. Ye's research includes a focus on China, India, and global relations, particularly focused on topics such as Chinese political economy, China and India comparison, and East Asian international relations. She has published a myriad of books and journalistic articles about her research, as well as policy briefs on China’s BRI, nationalism, economic planning, Asian regionalism, and China-India comparison.

Daniel Mains - Developmental Industrialization and Labor in Urban Ethiopia

Daniel Mains' presentation about the development of industrialization in urban Ethiopia and its impact on labor in the country, in the session on "Cross-Regional Experiences with Insecurity". Daniel Mains is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and African Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Mains’ research and writing explores the intersection between culture and economics in urban Africa. His specific interests include Ethiopia, urban infrastructure, youth cultures, capitalism, and international development. He is the author of "Hope is Cut: Youth, Unemployment, and the Future in Urban Ethiopia" (2012). "Hope is Cut" examines how young men in urban Ethiopia negotiate the gap between their desires for the future and economic realities. His second book, "Under Construction: Technologies of Development in Urban Ethiopia" (2019), examines the relationship between development and governance through an exploration of conflicts surrounding the construction of roads, hydroelectric dams, and other forms of infrastructure.

Article or Event Link
Jan 3, 2023



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