SAPIENT Policy Meeting and EIRSS Summer School, 2-13 September 2013

By Isabel Rocha de Siqueira and Emma Mc Cluskey

In September 2013, the Research Centre for International Relations at King’s College London (RCIR-KCL), the SAPIENT project, coordinated by Prof. Didier Bigo (KCL), and the University of Kent, in Brussels, organised two parallel events in Brussels: a Policy Meeting on Smart Borders, sponsored by the SAPIENT project; and a Summer School on Security, Borders and Mobility, held at the University of Kent. This post on the RCIR Forum provides us with the opportunity to make podcasts and information from both events publicly available.

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Body/politic and the illumination of Human Suffering

by K.M. Fierke, University of St. Andrews

Why write a book on a topic so macabre as Political Self Sacrifice? The beginnings were simple enough. I was puzzled by the significance of two distinct words, ‘suicide’ terrorist and martyr – words with two very different meanings, yet used interchangeably to refer to human bombs. But the question of language, while interesting, is not the only one. Why put cases as different as self-immolation by fire, nonviolent martyrdom, hunger strikes and the human bomb under the same microscope, when surely these are very different phenomenon? What do, for instance, the hundreds of Tibetan monks who have set themselves on fire over the past few years, the sixty Kurdish hunger strikers in Turkey (2012) or the hundred some hunger strikers at Guantanamo, the thousands of nonviolent activists killed in the early days of the Syrian revolution or the suicide terrorist from Hamas, share, if anything, in common? Why have acts of self-destruction, whether in the form of lighting a match or putting one’s self in harm’s way, been undertaken by so many and why should we, as scholars of international relations, be interested? Continue reading

Large-scale surveillance as a transnational activity ?

By Didier Bigo

In the wake of disclosures by Edward Snowden surrounding PRISM and other US surveillance programmes (Upstream, Xkeyscore), it is important to assess large-scale surveillance practices in other parts of the world and especially those in Europe. Some EU member states have been regularly quoted : the UK, Sweden, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Continue reading

The Politics of (In)visibility: Governance-­‐Resistance of Refugees

by Leonie Ansems de Vries

Migrants and refugees are in the spotlight across the globe. To give only a snapshot of recent news coverage: Millions of people are fleeing Syria; two overcrowded boats carrying refugees capsized near Lampedusa earlier this month; the Australian government sends asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea under a new ‘offshore resettlement policy’; the UK government is under fire for its controversial ‘Go Home’ campaign, urging ‘illegal migrants’ to ‘go home or face arrest’. These events and policies bring to light the importance and urgency of responding to both the plight of refugees and the securitisation of migration in very practical ways. It also prompts the need to conceptualise these issues in ways other than through discourses of threat, (in)security and/or victimisation. I would like to throw a different light on the issue of refugees and migration by focusing on the affirmative political practices of refugees in Malaysia. What I call the politics of (in)visibility, plays out at the intersection of theory and practice as well as at the juncture of governance and resistance.

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The Politics of “Fitting” Feminist Theory in IR

by Laura Sjoberg

Feminist theorists have long made and substantiated the argument that gender “matters” in International Relations (IR) theory and practice, and that it matters in complicated and hybrid ways. Gender analysis has been used (in my view effectively) across a wide spectrum of theoretical approaches, issue areas, and contemporary political events.  I thought about this as I was reading news stories and opinion pieces expressing disappointment that Malala Yousafzai did not win the Nobel Peace Prize. There are so many gendered dimensions to her story: her activism and agency; the gendered reaction by the Pakistani Taliban; the gendered reaction to that repression around the world; the gendered narratives surrounding her candidacy for the Nobel Peach Prize; and then the gendered reactions to the Nobel committee’s choice not to select her. All of these gendered framings, reactions, and receptions went on in the context of a gendered conflict between gendered states in what I would argue is a gendered international system. Reading those stories was, to me, another example of how gender “matters” in global politics -an example which could richly inform IR theory. Continue reading