SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Arming the War in Yemen

Professor. Anna Stavriankis

Date: 25 November 2020Time: 3:00 PM

Finishes: 25 November 2020Time: 4:30 PM


Type of Event: 0


This talk focuses on UK arms export policy as a way into thinking about the insecurity generated by the war in Yemen. First, I will outline a recently finished project (published in International Political Sociology) that examines the ways in which the UK state mobilises the practice of risk assessment to facilitate arms exports despite their potential for harm, through systematic not-knowing about international humanitarian law violations, claims of unintentional harm and practices of reputation management, and future proofing the inherent temporality of risk. I argue that this does not suggest a failure of risk as a governance strategy or a contradiction in its operation, however. Rather, it illustrates the generative character of risk as a regulatory technology in contexts marked by asymmetrical power dynamics. If the potential for domination is built into the operation of risk, we must search for alternative grounds of repoliticization that can generate more adequate modes of regulation and accountability. The second part of the talk will outline the ways I hope to develop this project and identify these alternative grounds, by examining the historical precursors of the practices in today’s war in Yemen; the transformatory combination of destruction through war and reconstruction through humanitarian and development aid; and the curious absence of the war in Yemen in scholarship on UK foreign policy.  

Bio: Anna researches and teaches on war, violence and insecurity at the University of Sussex, where she is Professor of International Relations. For the past few years her work has mostly focused on UK arms exports and the war in Yemen - she has published articles on this in International Political Sociology, Review of International Studies, Global Policy, and The Political Quarterly. More generally, she works on the international arms trade, arms transfer control, militarism and (in)security. She is also an editor at Security Dialogue. 

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