Intervention, Materiality, and Contemporary Somali Counterpiracy

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Taking seriously debates in IR about the significance of materiality and noticing the prominence of materiality in contemporary counterpiracy interventions, this article combines insights from Science and Technology Studies (STS) with insights from the poststructuralist intervention literature. Both literatures highlight the importance of “constitutive effects.” Poststructuralists do so with attention to the effects of intervention in constituting, temporarily, the meaning of sovereignty, and STS scholars do so with attention to constitutive effects that processes at the level of materiality give rise to. By combining these two literatures, this article asks: how might we think about the constitutive effects of material aspects of counterpiracy interventions? This question is explored through a focus on two donor-funded pirate prisons in Somalia. By operationalizing the STS notions of coproduction (Jasanoff 2004c) and solution/problem-framings (Beck et al. 2016), the article broadens the study of how intervention practices give rise to constitutive effects by explicitly attending to processes at the level of materiality. This approach enables the article to highlight an important tension in contemporary intervention practices: a tension between donor's desire to delimit intervention contributions and the risk that such contributions (including presumably more easily delineated material aspects) give rise to effects that challenge this faith in neatly delimited forms of intervention. This tension is not only relevant in relation to Somali counterpiracy, but also in other intervention contexts. The article thus illustrates show STS insights can help advance our appreciation of the manifold dimensions and effects of contemporary interventionism.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Global Security Studies
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)511-527
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sep 2020

ID: 232068511