Assembling Security Assistance: Knowledge, Networks and Materiality of a Global Practice

Guest Lecture Series
4 maggio 2021
4 May 2021

Where: Zoom Platform, h. 14.15


This talk tackles the pervasive role of Security Assistance in Global Security. In redefining the Global War on Terror, it explores how Security Assistance has risen as the dominant form of shaping Global Security. Old and new players seek to maximise influence and limit risk and responsibility by directing training, arms and equipment to selected military and security forces in contested, fragile and conflict areas. Whether to counter ISIS in Syria, to tip the military balance in Libya, or in support of the marginalised central state in Mali, Security Assistance is the preferred means through which Western and non-Western powers remain influential without deploying large-scale boots on the ground and assuming sovereign responsibilities. However, Security Assistance is often an ill-defined practice, and treated either as a form of proxy war or as a continuation of the statebuilding logic of yesteryears. Neither of these lenses are entirely helpful, this book argues, and proposes an alternative framework based on Assemblage approaches that captures the fragmented, non-linear and ad hoc character of SA, while bringing everyday practices and relationality to the fore by scrutinising the knowledge production, networks and materiality that form the core of “Working with, by and through local partners”. Finding that this largely unscripted practice is evolving into a ‘paradigm’ in Global Security, the talk highlights the invasive and deeply political implications of interventions based on ‘technical’ assistance and training. Concluding, Assembling Security Assistance: Knowledge, Networks and Materiality of a Global Practice warns that further intensification of Security Assistance as an indirect, remote or ‘shadowy’ practice will reshape the global order and allow the global battlefield to mutate into ever more fragmented and shifting fault lines.


Simone Tholens, Cardiff University (UK)
Simone Tholens is Senior Lecturer in International Relations, and the co-director of the Centre for Conflict, Security and Societies. Her main research interests within International Relations are post-liberal Interventions, security assistance, bordering processes, and materiality of global war practices, as well as theories of contestation. She has extensive fieldwork experience from conflict spaces, notably Lebanon, Kosovo, Cambodia and Aceh, and also from the workings of international security actors, specifically NATO, the EU and the UN. She has recently published an edited volume with University of Michigan Press, entitled "Resisting Europe: Practices of Contestation in the Mediterranean Middle East" (2020, w/ R. Del Sarto). Her current project and monograph (in progress), supported by the Leverhulme Trust Fellowship, is called "Knowledge, networks and practices of Security Assistance in the Middle East".


To register please fill in the application form within 3 May, 23.59