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New article: ‘Variegated Neo-liberalization, Human Development and Resistance: Iraq in Global Context’’

My article with this title appeared in the International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies at the end of  2011. You can read it here. The abstract is as follows:

Critics of the concept of human development argue that it has for the most part been easily absorbed into neo-liberalizing frameworks that neglect national, material development and that fail to prioritize the poor and insecure. While those criticisms have some force, more attention needs to be paid to the opportunities for resistance afforded by the fact that neo-liberalization is permeated by self-undermining contradictions and must articulate in hybrid and diverse fashion with existing social forces. When Iraq’s human development report, national development plan and poverty reduction strategy are examined, we can see in them elements of resistance to neo-liberalization and evidence of the assertion of development – national and human, material and non-material – as a right. However, in assessing poverty in Iraq as ‘very shallow’, Iraq’s poverty reduction team demonstrated that resistance to neo-liberalization and the neglect of the poor will require struggles with Iraqi as well as global actors.

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New article: ‘‘Critical Realism and Historical Materialism as Resources for Critical Terrorism Studies’

My article with Doug Stokes on this topic appeared in early 2011 in Critical Studies on Terrorism. You can read it here.  The abstract summarises it as follows:

Critical Terrorism Studies can be strengthened by scholarship that draws on a combination of critical realism (CR) and historical materialism (HM). CR relates epistemological relativism (we can know the social only indirectly through our interpretation of it) to ontological realism (there is a powerfully influential social reality that includes but is much more than our knowledge claims about it) through judgemental rationalism (knowledge claims can be tested against social reality, although always in an indirect, interpreted and fallible way). We illustrate CR-informed HM’s value in relation to analysing capitalism’s constant remaking of the world, terrorism as an instrument of capitalist class rule and the reified thinking involved in the use of terrorism that it is inherently anti-emancipatory.

What do I mean by ‘critical’?

When I say I have a ‘critical’ perspective on security studies and world politics, I am referring to a number of related claims:
* Western states often engage in acts which serve elite and ruling class interests rather than those of ordinary people. My approach is grounded in historical materialist as opposed to liberal, classical realist or neo-realist theories of world politics.
* Security scholars and practitioners tend to exaggerate threats, rely too heavily on military means and frame things as security issues that should be treated as policing, political or social issues.
* Scholars should try to uncover the politics and ethics obscured by liberal, classical realist and neo-realist perspectives and to defend human welfare against the many things that undermine it, including policies that are supposedly for the benefit of populations.
* None of this involves denying that there can be security threats. Instead, the argument is that traditional appraches to security often make matters worse and are part of the problem.
* While threat analysis is important, it is also important to analyse securitisation (how things become framed as security issues) and explore the potential value, pitfalls and limits to the importance of desecuritisation (ceasing to frame things as security issues).
* On the one hand, there is a powerfully influential social reality that includes but is much more than our knowledge claims about it. On the other, we can know the social only indirectly through our interpretation of it.  As a result, knowledge claims can be tested against social reality, although always in an indirect, interpreted and fallible way. This approach is known as critical realism: it contrasts with post-structuralism, social constructivism and positivism.
* Overall, I work with historical materialism as my historically-specific substantive theory of world politics, while treating critical realism as a theoretical and methodological underlying set of assumptions. That said, other theories and methodologies have a great deal to contribute and a plurality of perspectives is desirable.

Welcome

Welcome to my website. Its aim is to increase access to my scholarly writings and related work. These are mainly in the field of Critical Security Studies (CSS) but also on world politics more generally. My main empirical focus is Iraq and world politics (sanctions, occupation and post-occupation).