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Journal Articles Mediterranean Politics Year : 2023

The elephant in the med: Postcoloniality and European security assistance practices

Abstract

This article explores an enormous elephant in the Mediterranean space: European security assistance’s impact on the continuation of a global postcolonial order. We identify three core practices of security assistance that provides for postcolonial readings: externally producing ‘the problem’ and designing ‘the solutions’ to be tackled; linking the ‘provider’ and ‘recipients’ in material dependencies; and contestation as ‘thin’ adjustments rather than ‘thick’ resistance. Contrary to claims of functionalism, what we observe in contemporary European security assistance practice is consistent with postcolonial logics that produce distinct subjectivities and reproduce patterns of inequalities. European states – whether former colonial powers or not –use security assistance to structure the world in hierarchical ways. We argue that security assistance is not primarily about strategic effects but principally about signalling superiority and reproducing dependencies and colonizing/colonised mentalities. Moreover, security assistance practices reveal the need for security assistance – i.e. European SA presence often gets entangled with insecurity, and as such, security assistance practice makes the need for security assistance visible – a self-producing evidentiality that is as taken out of the colonial playbook. The paper explores constitutive processes at work by drawing on insights from British, French, Italian and Swedish approaches to security assistance in Libya and Lebanon.
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Dates and versions

hal-04017898 , version 1 (07-03-2023)

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Simone Tholens, Chiara Ruffa. The elephant in the med: Postcoloniality and European security assistance practices. Mediterranean Politics, 2023, 24 p. ⟨10.1080/13629395.2023.2183662⟩. ⟨hal-04017898⟩
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