Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Paul Higate -- Enforcement Masculinities and Men from the Global South: Complex Complicities and Contradictions in the Private Military Security Company

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

12 p.m. – 2 p.m.

McKinney Conference Room

“Enforcement Masculinities and Men from the Global South: Complex Complicities and Contradictions in the Private Military Security Company”

Critical scholars of gender and race have yet to turn their attention to the sphere of the Private Military Security Company (PMSC) that has burgeoned in recent times, due in-part to its increasing reliance on former military and police men from the global South. Given the paucity of gendered and racialized analyses of an industry with growing importance to the contemporary development wars, this article seeks to develop the concept of enforcement masculinities with a substantive focus on Fijian and Latin American security contractors. Its main argument is that these men hold particular appeal for industry recruiters as they are framed as two divergent groups within a broader martial race category. Fijians might be seen as embodying a form of ‘warriorhood’ suited to particular kinds of security work, whilst those originating from Latin America could be associated with their expertise in ‘politically repressive techniques’ valuable for the ‘war on terror’. In summary however, the article notes that whilst these men are constructed, harnessed and deployed through neo-colonial and gendered processes, they have necessarily to strike a liberal-ethnic bargain with their employers. In this way, it may be necessary for them to play-to dominant gendered and racialised scripts, that whilst generative of an income, do nonetheless preserve a broader material and discursive global gender hierarchy, of which they remain at the lowest reaches in respect of their subaltern masculinities.

Paul Higate's main research interests are in militarised masculinities from the context of ex-soldiers sleeping rough on the streets of Britain, through United Nation peacekeeping troops involved in the sexual exploitation and abuse of minors in post-conflict settings, onto most recently, the masculinised context of Private Militarised Security Companies (PMSC). He is currently a Fellow of the Global Uncertainties Programme funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and Arts and Humanities Research Council (ESRC/AHRC) in the UK and is planning fieldwork in Kabul in the summers of 2010 and 2011 focusing on PMSC's and their contractor workforce. He has authored/edited a number of books and articles including Military Masculinities: Identity and the State (Greenwood Praeger, 2003) and most recently with Marsha Henry Insecure Spaces: Peacekeeping, Power and Performance in Kosovo, Haiti and Liberia (Zed Press, 2009). 

Location: McKinney Conference Room, Watson Institute, 111 Thayer Street.