Shadow Soldiering

Shifting Constellations and Permeable Boundaries in “Private” Security Contracting

in Conflict and Society
View More View Less
  • 1 Danish Institute Against Torture mmc@dignityinstitute.dk
Restricted access

ABSTRACT

Contemporary warfare depends on private security contractors from countries in the Global South. In Sierra Leone, this dependency has produced emerging markets for private military and security companies (PMSCs) seeking to recruit cheap, military-experienced labor. This article explores how demobilized militia and soldiers in Sierra Leone negotiate categorical divides to make themselves employable for private security contracting in Iraq. Based on 19 months of fieldwork tracing militia soldiers as they move between shifting security constellations, the article introduces the notion of “shadow soldiering” to explain the entanglements of public-private spheres and the blurring of boundaries between the visible and invisible that characterize these constellations. While scholarly work on PMSCs has increasingly highlighted the public-private interconnectedness, the article contributes an ethnographically informed perspective on how security contractors on the ground interpret such entanglements and how global security dynamics intersects with the local, everyday practices and processes that facilitate the supply of contractors.

Contributor Notes

MAYA MYNSTER CHRISTENSEN is a postdoctoral researcher at DIGNITY (Danish Institute Against Torture). She holds a PhD in anthropology from the University of Copenhagen and has conducted long-term ethnographic research on militia mobilization and security outsourcing in Sierra Leone. Her current research focuses on urban policing and violence prevention in sub-Saharan Africa.

Conflict and Society

Advances in Research

  • Abrahamsen, Rita, and Michael C. Williams. 2009. “Security Beyond the State: Global Security Assemblages in International Politics.” International Political Sociology 3 (1): 117. doi:10.1111/j.1749–5687.2008.00060.x.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Berndtsson, Joakim. 2009. “The Privatisation of State Security and State Control of Force: Changes, Challenges, and the Case of Iraq.” PhD diss., University of Gothenburg.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Berndtsson, Joakim. 2013. “Exploring PSC-Military Relations: Swedish Officers and the Private Security Sector in Peace Operations.” Cooperation and Conflict 48 (4): 484501. doi:10.1177/0010836713482554.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Carmola, Kateri. 2010. Private Security Contractors and New Wars: Risk, Law and Ethics. Oxford: Routledge.

  • Chisholm, Amanda. 2014. “Marketing the Security Package: Colonial Histories and Neoliberal Economies of Private Security.” Security Dialogue 45 (4): 349372. doi:10.1177/0967010614535832.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chrisholm, Amanda. 2015. “From Warriors of Empire to Martial Contractors: Reimagining Gurkhas in Private Security.” In Gender in Private Security and Global Politics, ed. Maya Eichler, 95113. New York: Oxford University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chisholm, Amanda, and Saskia Stachowitsch. 2016. “Everyday Matters in Global Private Security Supply Chains: A Feminist Global Political Economy Perspective on Gurkhas in Private Security.” Globalization 13 (6): 815829. doi:10.1080/14747731.2016.1155796.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Christensen, Maya Mynster. 2013. “Shadow Soldiering: Mobilization, Militarization and the Politics of Global Security in Sierra Leone.” PhD diss., University of Copenhagen.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Christensen, Maya Mynster. 2016. “The Underbelly of Private Security: Sierra Leonean Ex-Militias in Iraq.” African Affairs 115 (458): 2343. doi:10.1093/afraf/adv055.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Christensen, Maya Mynster. Forthcoming. “Shaky Grounds: Risk, Profit and Violent Mobilization in Sierra Leone.” In Sporadically Radical: Ethnographies of Organized Violent and Militant Mobilization, ed. Henrik Vigh and Steffen Jensen. Copenhagen: Museum Tuscalanum Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Christensen, Maya Mynster, and Mats Utas. 2008. “Mercenaries of Democracy: The ‘Politricks’ of Remobilised Combatants in the 2007 General Elections, Sierra Leone.” African Affairs 107 (429): 515539. doi:10.1093/afraf/adn057.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cleaver, Gerry. 2000. “Subcontracting Military Power: The Privatization of Security in Contemporary Sub-Saharan.” Crime, Law and Social Change 33 (1): 131149.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Delanda, Manuel. 2006. A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity. London: Continuum.

  • Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • De Wall, Alex. 2002. “The Politics of Militarism” In Demilitarizing the Mind: African Agendas for Peace and Security, ed. Alex de Wall, 7392. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dimitrios, Machairas. 2014. “The Ethical Implications of the Use of Private Military Force: Regulatable or Irreconcilable.” Journal of Military Ethics 13 (1): 4969. doi:10.1080/15027570.2014.908645.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Diphoorn, Tessa. 2015. Twilight Policing: Private Security and Violence in Urban South Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Diphoorn, Tessa. 2016. “Twilight Policing: Private Security Practices in South Africa.” British Journal of Criminology 56 (2): 313331. doi:19.1093/bjc/azv057.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Eichler, Maya. 2014. “Citizenship and the Contracting Out of Military Work: From National Conscription to Globalized Recruitment.” Citizenship Studies 18 (6–7): 600614. doi:10.1080/13621025.2013.865904.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Elsea, Jennifer K., Moshe Schwartz, and Kennon H. Nakamura. 2008. Private Security Contractors in Iraq: Background, Legal Status and Other Issues. Congressional Research Service Report prepared for members and committees of Congress.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ferme, Mariane C. 2001. The Underneath of Things: Violence, History, and the Everyday in Sierra Leone. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Franke, Volker, and Marc von Boemcken. 2011. “Guns for Hire: Motivations and Attitudes of Private Security Contractors.” Armed Forces and Society 37 (4): 725742. doi:10.1177/095327X11412913.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Higate, Paul 2012a. “Cowboys and Professionals: The Politics of Identity Work in the Private and Military Security Company.” Millennium: Journal of International Studies 40 (2): 321341. 2011, doi:10.1177/0305829811425752.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Higate, Paul 2012b. “Martial Races and Enforcement Masculinities of the Global South: Weaponising Fijan, Chilean, and Salvadoran Postcoloniality in the Mercenary Sector.” Globalizations 9 (1): 3552. doi:10.1080/14747731.2012.627717.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hoffman, Danny. 2007. “The Meaning of Militia: Understanding the Civil Defence Forces of Sierra Leone.” African Affairs 106 (425): 639662. doi:10.1093/afraf/adm054.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hoffman, Danny 2011a. “Violence Just in Time: War and Work in West Africa.” Cultural Anthropology 26 (1): 3457. doi:10.1111/j.1548–1360.2010.01079.x.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hoffman, Danny. 2011b. The War Machines: Young Men and Violence in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • Joachim, Jutta, and Andrea Schneiker. 2012. “Of ‘True Professionals’ and ‘Ethical Hero Warriors’: A Gender-Discourse Analysis of Private Military and Security Companies.” Security Dialogue 43 (6): 495512. doi:10.1177/0967010612463488.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Käihkö, Ilmari. 2016. “Mystical and Modern Transformations in the Liberian Civil War.” In Transforming Warriors: The Ritual Organization of Military Force, ed. Peter Haldén and Peter Jackson, 126143. London: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Keen, David. 2005. Conflict and Collusion in Sierra Leone. New York: Palgrave.

  • Kinsey, Christopher. 2006. Corporate Soldiers and International Security: The Rise of Private Military Companies. London: Routledge.

  • Leander, Anna. 2005. “The Market Force and Public Security: The Destabilizing Consequences of Private Military Companies.” Journal of Peace Research 42 (5): 605622. doi:10.1177/0022343305056237.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lutz, Catherine. 2002. “Making War at Home in the United States: Militarization and the Current Crisis.” American Anthropologist 104 (3): 723735. doi:10.1525/aa.2002.104.3.723.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nordstrom, Carolyn. 2000. “Shadows and Sovereigns.” Theory, Culture and Society 17 (4): 3554. doi:10.1177/02632760022051301.

  • Nordstrom, Carolyn. 2004. Shadows of War: Violence, Power, and International Profiteering in the Twenty-first Century. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rosén, Frederik 2008. “Commercial Security: Conditions of Growth.” Security Dialogue 39 (1): 7797. doi:10.1177/0967010607086824.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schaub, Gary, and Volker Franke. 2009. “Contractors as Military Professionals?.” Parameters 39 (4): 88104.

  • Singer, P. W. 2003. Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

  • Solomon, Christina, and Jeremy Ginifer. 2008. Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration in Sierra Leone: A Case Study. Center for International Cooperation and Security.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Taussig-Rubbo, Mateo. 2009. “Outsourcing Sacrifice: The Labor of Private Military Contractors.” Yale Journal of Law and Humanities 2 (1): 103166.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Utas, Mats, and Maya Mynster Christensen. 2016. “The Gift of Violence: Ex-Militias and Ambiguous Debt Relations during Post-War Elections in Sierra Leone.” African Conflict and Peacebuilding Review 6 (2): 2347.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Van Velsen, J. 1967. “The Extended-Case Method and Situational Analysis.” In The Craft of Social Anthropology, ed. A. L. Epstein, 129153. London: Tavistock Publications.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vigh, Henrik. 2006. Navigating Terrains of War: Youth and Soldiering in Guinea-Bissau. New York: Berghahn Books.

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 12 12 3
Full Text Views 8 8 1
PDF Downloads 9 9 1