On behalf of the Security in Context (SiC) team, we are delighted to present the inaugural issue of Insecurity Monitor. SiC was launched in October 2020 with the explicit aim of examining and challenging the politics and practices of militarism and securitization from a critical, social justice oriented, and Global South perspective. We seek to connect the struggles against militarism and securitization with those against environmental injustice and various forms of inequalities and deprivations worldwide.
Each edition of Insecurity Monitor will feature the most important research outputs of SiC from across our four primary research tracks.
Currently, these tracks are:
Redefining (In)Security, which examines how traditional security practices and policies have increased insecurity for global populations and proposes alternative social jus- tice-oriented ways to measure security.
Global Capitalism and Transnational War Economies, which analyzes how shifts in global capitalism such as financialization, interact with, facilitate, and are transformed by transnational war economies and military industrial complexes.
Class, Race, Gender, and (In)security, which aims to highlight not only the different ways in which class, race, and gender intersect with securitization, but also the de-securitizing agendas that impact the marginalized poor and working class, racialized and gendered groups.
Multipolarity, Great Power Competition and the Glob- al South, which examines how multipolarity and Great Power competition are both shaping and being shaped by Global South dynamics.
The Insecurity Monitor’s title reflects the core of SiC’s approach, which explicitly overturns the logic of security that typically drives policy and even academic discussions of global affairs. In this first issue, the editors have interviewed some of the key people involved with SiC so they could introduce how their research engagements reframe debates about security and militarism, and also set a new agenda for future research.
Overview of the Articles
The issue begins with a trio of think pieces that embody the SiC’s different approaches to rethinking security. Omar Dahi explains the missing perspectives that led to the founding and unique mission of SiC. Rabie Nasser elaborates on the evolution of thinking that has led the Syrian Center for Policy Research to collaborate with SiC to create a “participatory security index, ” a key research initiative within the Redefining and Measuring (In) Security Research Track within SiC. Kasia Paprocki demonstrates how narratives about “climate migration” and “climate refugees,” are, at best, misleading and empirically incorrect and, at worst, increasing injustice and dispossession. Rather than spurring meaningful action to address climate justice, such narratives are in fact fueling securitized and militarized responses in Europe and North America and enabling land grabs for cash crops, ‘depeasantization’ or displacement of traditional agricultural producers, and elite capture in the Global South.
Looking at the same questions on a different scale, Van Jackson offers an essential intervention for US progressives by illustrating three pathways for what a left grand strategy for US foreign policy might look like in “Security is Beyond the National Interest: Grand
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Strategy and Progressive Worldmaking.” The three pathways— Progressive pragmatism, Anti-hegemonism, and Peacemaking— embody elements of longstanding progressive and even radical traditions and policy alternatives in US history, but have stopped short of mapping out clear visions for the role of the US in the world. In this final piece of the section, Sami Hermez explains the emergence of the Beirut School of Critical Security Studies, a partner in, and one of the most important inspirations for, the creation of Security in Context
The next section includes in-depth interviews with Shana Marshall and Pete Moore, who lead different working groups within the Global Capitalism and Transnational War Economies research track. The interviews with Marshall and Moore shed light on how SiC’s approach is distinct from mainstream discussions on war economies that either ignore their relationship with global capitalism, or see them distinct from social, cultural, and political dynamics. Marshall and Moore’s working groups have produced a number of working papers already published on the SiC website. In this edition of Insecurity Monitor, we include one example of this research track. One of these working papers is by Adem Yavuz Elveren, summarizing work (with Pelin Akçagün) to develop a theoretical model that borrows from Marxian and Keynesian theory and used it to empirically explore the connections between the rise of financial flows and increasing military spending in the United States between 1949-2019. Crucially, Elveren and Akçagün argued that the United States in the 1980s increasingly relied on the financial sector along with persistent military spending as the two main stimuli to deal with sluggish growth and declining profitability in the productive sectors of the economy.
Catherine Sameh’s inspiring yet sober reflections on the feminist movement in Iran opens the pages dedicated to exploring the research track dedicated to Class, Race, Gender and (In)Security. Maria Hadjipavlou’s ethnographic analysis of Cypriot women shows how a feminist historical analysis and a feminist approach to security can make a meaningful difference to peacebuilding in Cyprus. The work of bicommunal and interethnic feminist initiatives such as Unite Cyprus Now or Hands Across the Divide with which Hadjipavlou was personally involved offer a glimpse into more hopeful futures.
Roosbelinda Cárdenas’ “The Cuban Dilemma” examines the complicated politics of antiracism and international solidarity involved in protest movements in Cuba. On the one hand, the long history and contemporary reality of US imperialism in Cuba necessitates attention to the damage inflicted by the United States on the island. However, as Cárdenas points out, anti-imperialist voices, particularly those engaging with the struggle for racial justice in the US such as the Black Lives Matter movement, should not ignore the rich history of black Cuban protest and organizing.
Elaine Lowaty & Yara Ahmed use a controversial film as the foundation for their analysis of the increasingly ‘hostile geographies,’ which include both state surveillance and repression as well as societal moral panics directed against women and queer bodies in Egypt.
Robert Vitalis’ aforementioned essay traces the rise of the notion of the ‘common heritage of mankind’ as increasingly deployed in international negotiations and international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to the Global North’s attempts to “socialize their losses from decolonization” as pointed out by a relatively unknown Algerian jurist Mohammed Bedjaoui. Vitalis links Global North fears of scarcity (particularly in the United States) to the dynamics of North-South relations, the emergence of the third world movement, and the assertive economic nationalism of developing countries and the NIEO (New Economic World Order).
Within SiC’s Multipolarity, Great Power Competition, and the Global South research track Mouin Rabbani examines the landscape of the Middle East North Africa region in the aftermath of US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Russian war on Ukraine, arguing that US client states have pursued a policy of multi-alignment, which eschews Cold War era subservience to the US, or non-alignment.
In “Could Geopolitical Competition Over Development Financing Benefit the Global South?” Lee Jones argues against the common wisdom in Western policy circles that the Chinese Belt & Road is a geopolitical initiative and grand strategy, noting how it is actually “bottom-up” driven. Nevertheless, this expansion of Chinese capital and potential influence has geopolitical consequences. Jones shows how Great Power Competition between the US and China has its risks, but may also have a positive effect for smaller developing countries by soliciting development financing support and increasing their room for maneuver vis-a-vis the big powers. Finally, Kevin Young explains the origins of the SiC international organizations database, which he invites Insecurity Monitor’s readers to explore so you may further your own research on and theories about the networks of leaders who make the world’s most consequential decisions.
We hope you enjoy this first issue of Insecurity Monitor. We welcome your feedback and suggestions for our next issue. Write to us at email@example.com