Private Security Contractors in Darfur: Reflecting and Reinforcing Neo-Liberal Governmentality

Anna Leander

    Research output: Working paperResearch

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    This article argues that the role of Private Security Contractors in Darfur reflects and reinforces neo-liberal governmentality in contemporary security governance. It is an argument (in line with other articles in this special issue) which is more interested in discussing how the privatization of security alters security practices (including those involving states) than in thinking about their impact on an idealised public monopoly on the use of force. To make its point, the article begins by drawing on Foucauldian work to clarify the meaning of neo-liberal governmentality in security. It underlines that governance is increasingly taking place through a set of (quasi-) markets, it is marked by entrepreneurial values, and a hands off approach to governance. We then discuss the way this overall change is reflected in and reinforced by the role of private security contractors in Darfur. Drawing on a framework of analysis inspired by Bourdieu, we show that neo-liberal governmentality is reflected in the dispositions of security actors as well as in their relative positions. The resulting security practices reinforce dispositions and positions that reproduce neo-liberal governmentality. Looking at these processes is necessary to understand the role of private security contractors in Darfur. But more than this, practices in Darfur entrench neo-liberal governmentality in security more generally. The managerial and `de-politicizing' approach to security in Darfur displaces alternative views not only in the Darfuri context. It is taken into other contexts where it bolsters neo-liberal governmentality. This spiralling neo-liberal governmentality rather than diminished state control and authority is, we argue, the most significant consequence of the presence of private security contractors in Darfur.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationKøbenhavn
    Number of pages19
    Publication statusPublished - 2006

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