Predatory security: Reshaping the city and the state in Mozambique
Notions and practices of security colonise both state and urban contexts across Africa. Arguably, these notions and practices are also integral to wider global political formations where urban formations in Africa are often cast as pre-figuring the shape of future global cities more generally. Based on fieldworks in the Mozambican cities of Maputo and Chimoio, this paper sees security there as related to violent crime and capital accumulation in ways that undermine policy-oriented representations of security provision as solely undertaken by state police supplemented by neoliberal assemblages of security firms. Rather, and more specifically, the paper shows how security is not only subjected to a spatialized logic of race and social control but also renders violence – in all its forms – central to its exercise and cosmologies. This point will be emphasised by analysing how various forms of policing must be understood beyond the security-development nexus. These forms of policing increasingly involve a gradual emergence of what I call ‘predatory security’ that is central to violent modes of capital accumulation that shape African urban landscapes as well as define the contours of the state. The paper suggests that as a configuration of accumulative violence such predatory security has consequences for how we should approach calls for rights to the city as well as the state in urban African orders and beyond.
Bjørn Enge Bertelsen, associate professor, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Bergen, has researched issues such as state formation, violence, poverty and rural-urban connections in Mozambique since 1998. Bertelsen has published extensively internationally and is publishing the monograph Violent Becomings: State Formation, Culture and Power in Mozambique (Berghahn Books, 2016) and has co-edited the anthologies Crisis of the State: War and Social Upheaval (with Bruce Kapferer, Berghahn Books,  2012) and Navigating Colonial Orders: Norwegian Entrepreneurship in Africa and Oceania, ca. 1850 to 1950 (with Kirsten Alsaker Kjerland, Berghahn Books, 2015).
In recent years, a large number of Syrian refugees have settled in Europe. In the media, most of the debate concerning these refugees has been about how they impact their host societies. But how does this large Syrian diaspora impact politics in Syria itself?
For this IMER lunch seminar, we will be joined by Amany Selim and Espen Stokke, PhD candidates at sociology and comparative politics at UiB. They both do research projects where they explore the engagement of Syrian diaspora activists, and how these activists try to make a difference in the homeland. With their work on the Syrian case, they are hoping to contribute to the growing body of literature that attempts to bridge social movement theory and diaspora politics.
In the presentation, Selim and Stokke will give a brief overview of the field: What do we know about the activism of the Syrian diaspora? They will also present their own projects, and what they wish to add to the field.
If a LGBTI person can “stay in the closet” in the country of origin, should she then be denied asylum as a refugee? This is currently a thorny issue for several European countries, when facing asylum seekers who apply for protection on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. For this IMER seminar, Andrea Grønningsæter from the faculty of law at UiB will discuss how this is currently practiced in Norway.
Research has shown that that LGBTI people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people) often face specific legal and procedural challenges when applying for refugee status. In a number of jurisdictions, including Norway, LGBTI asylum seekers have been denied refugee status with reference to the fact that they can abstain from behavior that may result in a risk of persecution. A gay person can live as a gay within the confines of the home, for example, but not on the streets – and may thus not be granted protection. It is then concluded that the requirement in refugee law of establishing a ‘well-founded fear’ of persecution is not fulfilled, because concealment will mean that the asylum seeker is not revealed to potential persecutors.
In 2012 the Norwegian Supreme Court considered the right to refugee status based on sexual orientation (Rt. 2012 s. 494). In the court’s decision it was stated that a gay person may not be required to hide their sexual orientation in the country of origin to avoid persecution. In cases where it is concluded that the asylum seeker will choose to conceal their sexual orientation, the court established a step-by-step approach for assessing whether the asylum seeker is entitled to refugee status.
For her PhD project, Grønningsæter looks at how the approach that was established by the Supreme Court in 2012 for assessing asylum cases based on sexual orientation or gender identity is interpreted by the courts and the immigration authorities. She explores how the courts and immigration authorities establish the asylum seeker’s reason for concealment, as well as how concepts such as ‘being open’ or ‘discreet’ about sexual orientation or gender identity is understood.
A light lunch will be served. Welcome!
Andrea Grønningsæter is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law, Bergen University.
In current debates about multicultural societies, ideas about active citizenship sometimes play a part. The increase of ethnic, cultural and religious diversity in Scandinavia has led to integration and naturalization policies that focus on social cohesion and stress the need for a shared set of values, identities and commitment to active participation in society. What kind of engagement is seen as good and legitimate, and what kinds of engagement are seen as illegitimate? For this IMER lunch seminar, Noor Jdid from PRIO and SKOK will present insights from her PhD project, which explores active citizenship in Norway and Denmark, among both minority and majority populations. She draws on ethnographic fieldwork in five different neighbourhoods in Oslo (Tøyen, Holmlia, Røa) and Copenhagen (Østerbro, Sydhavn), consisting of 69 life history interviews and 13 focus group discussions with residents of these neighbourhoods, as well as expert interviews and participatory observation. The analysis shows that the intersection of place, gender, class and ethnicity often shapes citizens’ understandings of their own civic engagement. When determining what ‘counts’ as a legitimate and valuable contribution to society, the research participants drew gendered and racialized discursive boundaries between the public and the private spheres.
Noor Jdid is a Doctoral Researcher at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and Center for Women’s and Gender Research (SKOK). Her PhD is part of the larger SAMKUL-project “Active Citizenship in Religiously and Culturally Diverse Societies”.
‘Crimmigration’ has become a critical “catch all” concept for legal scholars, criminologists, and sociologists alike. The concept describes the way two previously separate state control spheres – border control and crime control – influence each other and are part of the same control mechanism experiences and developments. This concept, for example, helps understand Trump’s effort to legitimize the tightening of immigration policy. It refers to both the protection of American economy and jobs and the explicit intent to protect American citizens from terrorists, rapists, and gang members. For this IMER lunch seminar, Synnøve Jahnsen from Rokkansenteret will talk about the usefulness of crimmigration as a concept in other settings. She will draw on empirical examples from her research on prostitution and human trafficking, Norwegian labour market crime policies, and the policing of outlaw motorcycle clubs and youth gangs in Australia and Europe. She will also use the opportunity to promote her new co-edited book “Criminal Justice in the Era of Mass Mobility” and highlight some of the methodological challenges faced by researchers in her field.
A light lunch will be served. All welcome!
The question of migration is a multifaceted one. It impacts upon individual and social life long before a person’s departure or the crossing of borders. Tuning in with pre- and post-departure perspectives from the African-European border zone, this seminar will argue that migration cannot be understood if addressed as a series of events or movements in the here and now. On the contrary, it must be seen in relation to the experiences and ideas that predate and at the same time reach beyond the temporal settings in which they unfold. For this IMER seminar, Knut Graw from the Institute for Anthropological Research in Africa at the Kathlieke Universiteit Leuven will elaborate on this argument in relation to Senegal as a case study.
Knut Graw (PhD) works at the Institute for Anthropological Research in Africa (IARA) and the Interculturalism, Minorities and Migration Research Centre (IMMRC) of the University of Leuven and, as associated researcher, at Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO), Berlin. His current research focuses on the situation of Senegalese migrants in Southern Europe and the cultural dynamics and transfers in the African-European borderzone.
Since the refugee reception crisis in 2015, asylum seekers and refugees have often been at the centre of public and scholarly debate. However, the focus has frequently been on the problems they bring about for host countries. Less attention has been placed on asylum seekers’ aspirations, dreams and plans after arrival. Yet these are meaningful to study given that aspirations can have a significant impact on people’s future trajectories and hence, the ways they incorporate into their new homes. Furthermore, desire, despite having a strong agentic nature, is deeply entangled in the social structures and discourses that newcomers are surrounded by.
In this seminar, Zubia Willmann, will be presenting her article in which she explores how the aspirations of women who came to Norway as asylum seekers change over time, the elements that may be involved in such changes as well as how these women go about pursuing their aspirations. She draws on intermittent fieldwork for one and a half years (2017-2019) in which she followed women seeking asylum in Norway, from the stages in which they lived in asylum centres to the early stages of settlement in a Norwegian municipality.
A light lunch will be served! All welcome.
Zubia Willmann is a currently a PhD candidate at VID Specialized University, Stavanger with a project exploring how women seeking asylum in Norway go about starting their life in their new home. She has an interdisciplinary background, her main fields of interest being migration studies but also gender and religion studies among others. She has been recently a visiting scholar at the Migration and Diversity Centre at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. Zubia is also a member of the IMER Junior Scholars Network.
Jordan has enacted some of the world’s strongest lockdown and quarantine measures. These measures have been received quite well domestically, but their impact on the country’s most vulnerable refugees is only beginning to be understood.
The majority of Syrian refugees in Jordan live in urban areas in addition to a significant number also residing in camps. As living conditions are linked to the effectiveness of prevention measures, different populations may experience different outcomes.
In this webinar, Sarah Tobin will explore the situation of the Syrian refugees in Jordan, while also examining the political consequences of the pandemic response in the country.
Sarah Tobin is a senior researcher at Chr. Michelsen Institute. Her latest research projects examine questions of religious and economic life and identity construction with Syrian refugees in Jordanian camps of Za’atari, Azraq, and Cyber City.
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There is a deep-rooted cultural belief that encounters between strangers in local settings can bring about social change. Mette Strømsø, a researcher at the Sociology Department UiB, brings this aspect to the forefront in her study of local community initiatives established in the wake of the refugee influx in 2015. Mette will present her co-authored article with Susanne Bygnes whereby they strive to unpack the promise, inherent contradictions and transformative potential of the facilitated encounters in local communities where newcomers settled. The reference to Karen Blixen’s short story Babette’s feast indicate the cultural resonance of the promise in the facilitated encounters between newcomers and permanent residents.
Mette Strømsø is a researcher for IMEX at the department of Sociology, UiB. She holds a PhD in Human. Her research interests fall at the intersection of political geography and social and cultural geography, with a focus on everyday nationhood and especially the reconciliation between nation and diversity.
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In Norway, there is an institutionalized emphasis on the importance of outdoor life and play. This is embedded in public provision for children and in dominant understandings of how families should use leisure time and how children should play. In this seminar, Raquel Herrero-Arias, PhD candidate at the department of Health Promotion, UiB, will discuss her co-authored article (currently under review) on the experiences of Southern European migrant parents with professional advice on family leisure and outdoor play. It focuses on how migrant parents respond to associate discourses of risks in their encounters with kindergarten professionals and community health nurses. Raquel will discuss how migrant parents navigated risk discourse in these encounters in many ways either by contesting, accepting professional intervention, or falsifying compliance.
Raquel Herrero-Arias is a PhD candidate at the department of Health Promotion, UiB. She holds a Master’s Degree in Gender Studies, and an Erasmus Mundus Master in Social Work with Families and Children. Her doctoral project explores the experiences of parenting among Southern European migrant parents in Norway.
Meeting ID: 641 6856 7153