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:


Poisoning the Pacific The US Military's Secret Dumping of Plutonium, Chemical Weapons, and Agent Orange

Jon Mitchell, 2020, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

“​For more than 70 years, US military operations have been contaminating the Pacific region with toxic substances including radioactive fallout, nerve agent and dioxin-tainted Agent Orange. Hundreds of thousands of service members, their families and local residents have been exposed to these poisons - but the US government has persistently tried to hide the damage and refused to help victims. Based on 12,000+ pages of documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act and interviews with military whistleblowers and survivors, this book reveals the enormous extent of contamination and the lengths the Pentagon will go to conceal it.”

Critical Reflections on China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Alan Chong and Quang Min, 2020, Palgrave MacMillan

This edited volume provides insights into China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) from Asia Pacific and the Middle East. It offers critical perspectives from various directions, not excluding historical investigations, human geography approaches and neo-Marxist inclinations.

Everyday Boundaries, Borders and Post Conflict Societies

Renata Summa, 2021, Palgrave MacMillan

“This book provides an in-depth analysis of border and boundary enactments in post-war and “deeply divided” societies. By exploring everyday places in post-conflict societies, it critically examines official narratives of how ethno-national divisions arise and are sustained. It challenges traditional accounts regarding the role that international intervention has in producing and/or weakening boundaries in such societies, while questioning clear-cut distinctions between the local and the international” - Palgrave Macmillan

Religion, war and Israel’s secular millennials: Being reasonable?

Stacey Gutkowski, 2020, Manchester University Press

“How do secular Jewish Israeli millennials feel about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, having come of age in the shadow of the Oslo peace process, when political leaders have used ethno-religious rhetoric as a dividing force? This is the first book to analyse blowback to Palestinian and Jewish-Israeli religious nationalism among this group in their own words, based on fieldwork, interviews and surveys conducted after the 2014 Gaza War.” - Manchester University Press

The Global Police State

William I Robinson, 2020, Pluto Press

“The global police state uses a variety of ingenious methods of control, including mass incarceration, police violence, US-led wars, the persecution of immigrants and refugees, and the repression of environmental activists. Movements have emerged to combat the increasing militarisation, surveillance and social cleansing; however many of them appeal to a moral sense of social justice rather than addressing its root - global capitalism.” - Pluto Press


On fortification: Military architecture, geometric power, and defensive design

Derek Denman, 2020

This article examines fortification as a technique of power in which warfare, the design of the built environment, and the organization of space are intertwined. Where research on fortification tends to emphasize the symbolic, sovereign aspirations of wall-building, the approach advanced here focuses on the spatial technologies and infrastructural projects of military architecture and engineering that remake space through martial means.

Hidden in Plain Sight: Coloniality, Capitalism and Race/ism as Far as the Eye Can See

Olivia U. Rutazibwa, 2020

This review essay is a generative reading of four monographs and one special issue to rethink the discipline of International Relations (IR) and its syllabus anti-colonially. At the centre of White Innocence by Gloria Wekker, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, by Christina Sharpe, The Colonial Lives of Property by Brenna Bhandar, Beyond Coloniality by Aaron Kamugisha and Raced Markets edited by Robbie Shilliam and Lisa Tilley are issues of race and racism, neoliberalism and capital and (the afterlives of) colonisation and slavery. This essay deploys a narrative approach of the autobiographical example to write the themes and arguments of the works onto the international everyday.

Authoritarian Neoliberalism’ and Youth Empowerment in Jordan

Beste İşleyen and Nadine Kreitmeyr

This article examines youth entrepreneurship in Jordan in the context of the country's neoliberal reforms. Drawing on Foucauldian scholarship on neoliberal governmentality and the literature on authoritarian neoliberalism, it argues that youth empowerment is part of the Jordanian regime's strategy of subject formation along neoliberal lines through the dissemination of market ideas of competitiveness, enterprise society and self-responsibility. The article highlights how the King's two initiatives display a win-win relationship for the regime and the youth alike without necessarily challenging the status

U.S. Government and Defense Contractor Funding of America's Top 50 Think Tanks

Center for International Policy, October, 2020

In an effort to move towards greater transparency of think tank funding in America, this report analyzes U.S. government and defense contractor funding at the top fifty think tanks in America. From the analysis the report found that at least $1 billion in U.S. government and defense contractor funding went to the top fifty think tanks in America. The top funders from the U.S. government were the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Air Force, the Army, the Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department, while the defense contractors contributing the most to these think tanks were Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Airbus.

Refugee urbanism: seeing asylum “like a city”

Jonathan Darling, 2020

This paper explores how asylum might be understood from an urban perspective. The paper focuses on a range of conceptual interventions mobilized around the notion of ‘seeing like a city’, which foreground the pragmatic and compositional nature of urban politics. These debates are placed in conversation with discussions over the changing nature of relations of power, to examine the dispersal of asylum seekers in the UK, arguing that current research on dispersal has tended to focus too exclusively on the regulatory and sovereign aspects of this policy. In doing so, such research has overlooked the urban manifestation of dispersal as a process that has created new knowledges and forms of expertise, whilst being sustained through spatially complex relations of present authority and distant accountability. In exploring these relations, the paper argues that a focus on ‘refugee urbanism’ may open productive new avenues for critically exploring urban asylum.

Protest and State–Society Relations in the Middle East and North Africa

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), 2020

This SIPRI Policy Paper examines the impact of protest movements in the MENA region over the past decade and the policies of external actors (the European Union), or their absence of, to facilitate the demands of these protests on the state. The paper argues that “the EU should adopt an approach to regional security and stability that takes the needs of the populations of each country as the starting point for an understanding of security and stability that is more adapted to local circumstances.”

Understanding Egyptian Military Expenditure

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), 2020

Egypt has one of the largest military forces and inventories of major weapons in the Middle East and North Africa. However, based on the official figures provided by the govern­ment, Egypt’s military expenditure averaged a comparatively moderate, by regional stand­ards, US$3.8 billion annually over the past decade. Egypt thus appears to have one of the lowest levels of military spend­ing in MENA. This background paper provides an in-depth explor­ation of the official military spending figures for Egypt. Through analysis of primary and secondary sources, it high­lights gaps and shortcomings in the data reported by the Egyptian Government. By mapping and examining a comprehensive list of Egypt’s arms procurement deals between 2000 and 2019, it also shows that the growing number of arms acquisitions apparently had no impact on the level of military spending officially reported by Egypt over the most recent decade.

Special issue on Quantizing international relations

Security Dialogue, Volume 51, Issue 5, October 2020

James Der Derian and Alexander Wendt, 2020

This special issue is conceived out of the proposition that recent developments in quantum theory as well as innovations in quantum technology have profound implications for international relations, especially in the field of international security. As new scientific discoveries and technological applications suggest large-scale quantum phenomena, near-simultaneous interconnectivity creates global entanglements, and ubiquitous media produce profound observer-effects, we wish to make of quantum theory a human science. With the arrival of quantum computing, communications and artificial intelligence, we can also expect to see significant transformations in the nature, production and distribution of power and knowledge. This special issue introduces quantum approaches that can help us better understand, anticipate and perhaps even ameliorate the most pressing global issues facing us today and in the near future.

Introduction: Public Health and the Promise of Palestine 

Danya Qato, Volume 49, Issue 4, Journal of Palestine Studies, 2020

This introductory essay contextualizes the special collection of papers on the pandemic and seeks to map the terrain of extant public health research on Palestine and the Palestinians. In addition, it is a contribution in Palestine studies to a nascent yet propulsive conversation that has been accelerated by Covid-19 on the erasure of structures of violence, including those of settler colonialism and racial capitalism, within the discipline of epidemiology

Israel’s Annexation Plan: One State Based on Equality and Justice Is the Only Solution

Samera Ayyad, European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed), 2020

This piece makes the case that one state, based on equality and justice, is the only solution for Palestinians and Israelis. The Palestinian question needs to be centered on people, not land. 

Conferences/Calls for Papers or Abstracts

Call for Applications - Al Salon/10 Years of Movements


Deadline: November 1, 2020

Al Salon is a series of five discussion circles to be held in Berlin between November 2020 and February 2021 where scholars and activists, along with two guest speakers for each circle, will have the space to reflect critically and collectively on ten years of revolutions in the Arab region. 

Call for Papers: Empire in the Middle East and the Maghreb: The Shaping of Hopes and Perspectives

The Maghreb Review and Maghreb Studies Association Conference

Date:  September 13, 2021 to September 14, 2021

The aim of this conference is to examine how European colonialism and great power rivalry in the Middle East and North Africa have shaped the perspectives of the peoples in these countries and their hopes for their future. Besides the European powers that established their colonial hegemony in these countries, the conference will also deal with the influence of countries, such as the United States of America and Germany, which extended their influence through diplomacy, financial and military aid, and education.

Call for Papers for a Special Issue of The International Journal of Press/Politics: “Protest and the Press”

The International Journal of Press/Politics

Paper submissions: 15 September 2021

This special issue of The International Journal of Press/Politics aims to provide new research perspectives on how news media’s coverage of police and protests contributes to the legitimization of some movements and the delegitimization of others, with the goal of fleshing out the hierarchies of social struggle created by the press (Kilgo & Harlow, 2019) and the effects of that hierarchy on the public.

CALL FOR PAPERS: Rethinking Narratives of China and the Middle East

University of Pennsylvania

21 January 2020

The Center for East Asian Studies is cosponsoring an upcoming conference with the Middle East Center at University of Pennsylvania. The conference, to be held in Spring 2021, will be on the theme: Rethinking Narratives of China and the Middle East: The Silk Roads and Beyond

 The aim of the conference is to foster a creative dialogue — which we believe is long overdue — between scholars of modern and contemporary China/Middle East relations and those working on earlier periods, with the goal of questioning and complicating the conventional narratives frequently heard around these issues.


Call for Participation: Workshops on research ethics in MENA

Middle East Studies Association

November 9th, 2020.

Launching a Special Commission on Ethics and Social Science Research in the Middle East and North Africa. This project, led by Lisa Anderson (Dean Emerita, Columbia University) and Saloua Zerhouni (Professor, Mohammed V University and President of the Rabat Social Studies Institute), is dedicated to mobilizing an interdisciplinary network of academics, researchers and practitioners to assess the landscape of social science research conducted in the Arab world and develop guidelines for the conduct of responsible, ethical and constructive social inquiry. Learn more about this project here:


Capital and Conflict Panel Discussion, SOAS

October 22, 2020

This panel considers how the process of globalisation affects the Global South and what are the exclusionary practices of capital that increase the gap between the rich and the poor? Expert Panelists look at specific examples of states and their participation in the global political economy. What are the global systems of production that determine international relations and how do politicians and policy makers mediate conflict? To what extent is the crisis of capital in the Global North connected to histories of colonialism, war and nationalism? How can we mediate the flow of knowledge through a Global South perspective when it comes to labor-capital conflicts?

Professor Steve Tsang, SOAS University of London

Dr Gilbert Achcar, SOAS University of London

Geeta Patel, University of Virginia

Terry Cannon, Institute of Development Studies

Encounters and Border Crossings: Towards a Post-Lockdown Anthropology

October 22, 2020

Faced with conversations about reduced social proximity, this experimental panel seeks to explore the multiple affective and political registers of encounters. Through a succession of ten-minute presentations, each relying on a single image, the panellists consider encounters over dinner, sports, ritual, heritage, time and borders. Extending their analyses from specific situations, these short talks invite the audience to unpack the notions of proximity and distance through ethnography. The second half of the panel is a conversation with the attendees about encounters, borders and knowledge towards potential post-lockdown perspectives.

The Marginalization of Third World Feminists in Academia and Politics- Webinar

October 30, 2020

This webinar brings world-leading experts in academia, politics, and history together to address the contemporary historical, political, cultural, and economic roots of the biases, prejudices, obstacles, and the challenges third world feminists face in academia and politics in today's world.

Webinar: Stories from feminist peace archives and how to find them

LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security

November 4, 2020

This event is suitable for anyone interested in finding out more about feminist peace archives, and perhaps those interested in researching these topics further and undertaking archival research. This event is co-hosted by the LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security as part of the AHRC project Feminist International Law of Peace and Security, and LSE library.

1. Feminist peace archives: the government perspective

2. Dora Russell and the Women’s Peace Caravan

3. Anti-nuclear campaigners

China Straddling the Persian Gulf

SOAS Middle East Institute and SOAS China Institute

November 3, 5:30 PM UTC – 7 PM UTC

In this talk, Jonathan Fulton argues that what looks like Chinese neutrality is actually a response to the US constructed regional security architecture.  A closer examination of China’s regional interests indicate that China has preferences for Gulf order that actually favors the monarchies over Iran.  In developing their relations with China the GCC states have often relied upon economic opportunities to build leverage against Iran, and this has had a profound influence on China’s regional interests. While Beijing keeps a foot planted on either side of the Gulf, its footprint on the Arab side is much deeper.

Job Openings

Application for Postdoctoral Research Associate

Princeton University

Friday December 18, 2020

The Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at Princeton University invites applications for postdoctoral research associate positions in the relevant fields of Iran and the Persian Gulf studies in the 19th - 21st century. 

Research Scientist: Political Science-MIT Governance Lab (MIT GOV/LAB)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT GOV/LAB is a group of political scientists focusing on innovation in citizen engagement and government responsiveness.  Will lead one or more collaborative research studies with practitioner organizations, established scholars and leaders, and global partners of MIT GOV/LAB and work with these partners to define evidence-based frameworks that are practical and specific to the governance and accountability fields, ultimately delivering impact and value. 

Postdoctoral researcher ERC Start Grant project "REEL BORDERS"

Vrije Universiteit of Brussels

Deadline: November 23, 2020

The ERC Starting Grant project “REEL BORDERS” will be forming a team of researchers to study imaginations of borders through fiction film. The main questions to be addressed are: (1) What are the cultural imaginations of borders and its insider and outsiders found in fiction film? and (2) How do different societal actors use fiction film to construct, contest, or experience territorial borders? 

Programme Communications Manager, MENA Programme

Deadline: November 30, 2020

Chatham House is looking for a Programme Communications Manager to join the team on a two-year fixed term contract. The successful candidate will be committed to the programmes communications as well as project-specific communication. A key focus of the role is creating and publishing posts and audiovisual content for digital and social media in Arabic and English, and managing the programme’s soon-to-be-launched bilingual microsite.

Podcasts and Platforms

New Books Network: Interview with Alan Chong

An interview with Alan Chong about his latest co-edited volume: Critical Reflections on China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Peace journalism platform introduced in Yemen

The Peace Journalism Platform is an urgent initiative to stop the war that began plaguing Yemen five years ago. Peace journalism represents the voice of truth and gives peace initiatives the priority in issuing news and tries to bring the views of the warring parties closer to negotiations to get out of this crisis. PJ leads a trend towards development, reconstruction, and investment.

SI Podcast: How Big Oil Weaponized Our Judicial System Against Him and the Indigenous People He Represented

Robert Sheer speaks with Steve Donziger about his battle to get Chevron to pay a $9.5 billion judgment for its “mass industrial poisoning” of Indigenous Amazonian tribes in Ecuador and his subsequent house arrest for 13 months, $32 million in legal fees, a lien on his home, and no way to make a living. The judgment has not yet been paid.

Latitude Adjustment: 70: The Terrorism Discourse

For all of the movies, books, and policy debates on the topic, and given that the largest, most expensive, and longest hot war in US history is being waged in its name, why isn’t there a coherent and consistent definition for Terrorism? 

Hutchins Center: Ibram X. Kendi, 'On Antiracist Research: Its Approach, Its History, Its Impact'

The Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, sits with  Ibram X. Kendi for the topic of: 'On Antiracist Research: Its Approach, Its History, Its Impact' as part of the Hutchins Center W.E.B. Du Bois virtual lecture series.

Article or Event Link
Nov 1, 2020



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