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Centre of African Studies: Events


Irregular migration and the politics of security intervention in the Sahel

Irregular migration and the politics of security intervention in the Sahel
Speaker: Dr Philippe Frowd # University of York; Introduced by: Dr Maggie Dwyer # co host CeSeR (Security Network Seminar)
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Date and Time
21st Sep 2016 16:00 - 21st Sep 2016 18:00
Seminar Room 1, Chrystal Macmillan Building

Non-traditional security challenges in West Africa’s Sahel, such as irregular migration, drug trafficking, and radicalization, increasingly concern global and local policymakers and security officials. In response to these transnational issues, international cooperation and intervention around border security has intensified. This seminar focuses on the politics underlying these security practices, with particular emphasis on efforts against irregular migration in Senegal, Mauritania, and Niger. Drawing on fieldwork conducted since 2013, it advances three main arguments. First, the seminar argues that border security interventions are oriented towards the transmission of new technologies and techniques of governance in the Sahel. These aim not only to control migration at a distance, but also to create ‘harder’ states through the building of security agencies’ capacities. This is evidenced by the ongoing police cooperation between Spain and African states in the wake of the spike in irregular migration in the 2000s, and by ongoing European Union capacity-building efforts in Niger. Second, the seminar suggests that although the ‘Sahel’ is an increasingly militarized space of intervention in many ways, this is not the case across all areas of security practice. Projects by the International Organization for Migration across the region, for example, suggest that principles of civilian control and development-driven approaches retain tremendous influence. Third, the seminar argues that the emerging political economy of irregular migration in Niger shapes interventions in competing ways: while smuggling is itself a source of considerable revenue for many, so are the rents from international security cooperation to counter it. More broadly, the seminar argues for a mode of analysis that understands security and insecurity in the Sahel through connecting the granular to the global.

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