SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Territory, Expertise, Authority: Ocean Governance and the Counter-Piracy Assemblage

Dr Christian Bueger

Date: 11 November 2015Time: 3:00 PM

Finishes: 11 November 2015Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 4426

Type of Event: Seminar

Chair: Dr Matthew Eagleton-Pierce

How can we draw on assemblage theory to study governance? This paper presents an empirical study to draw out core elements of an assemblage theory of global governance. Since 2008 the international community is fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia. This fight is not only very successful, with the last reported piracy incident taking place in 2012, it is also often seen as a “miracle”, since the success can be explained by the close cooperation of all actors involved. A crucial element in the fight is a “zone of exception” which provides the spatial reference of that cooperation. The paper reconstructs the making of the so-called High Risk Area (HRA) and how it became the core space of counter-piracy. The HRA is defined in a booklet called “Best Management Practices” (BMP). The BMP, I argue, should be understood as the core artefacts of translations in the counter-piracy assemblage. Since 2012 the BMP are increasingly contested, the assemblage erodes, it deterritorializes, and at the heart of this debate is the negotiation over space, the HRA. I end with a summary of the virtues of an assemblage theory of global governance.


Christian Bueger is Reader in International Relations in the Department of Politics and International Relations, Cardiff University. He joined Cardiff as a Lecturer in 2012. He obtained his PhD in Political and Social Sciences from the European University Institute, Florence, Italy (2010).

His fields of research are Security Studies, International Political Sociology, International Organizations, and Sociology of Science and Expertise. His current research is on maritime security and global governance in the frame of the project "Counter-Piracy Governance - A Praxiographic Analysis" funded by a Future Research Leader grant of the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council [ES/K008358/1]. He is also one of the lead investigators of the Lessons Learned Consortium of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. He is an associate editor of the forthcoming European Journal of International Security (Cambridge UP, 2016) and a co-editor of – The Research Portal for Maritime Security. His research has featured in different media, including, among others, ITV, The Guardian, Africa Renewal, Veja or The New Internationalist.

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