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African Agency in a Changing Security Environment: Sources, Opportunities and Challenges

Hammerstad, Anne (2013) African Agency in a Changing Security Environment: Sources, Opportunities and Challenges. Conflict, Security and Development, 13 (5). pp. 1-16. ISSN 1467-8802. (doi:10.1080/14678802.2013.849470)

Abstract

This special issue contributes to the growing debate on the nature and limits of African agency. It does so by focusing on the possibilities of and constraints on agency in the security sphere. This is a sphere traditionally characterised as dominated by existential threats and the imperative of survival. Hence it is often considered to present an especially restrictive environment for agency, particularly of the transformative kind.We do not take this traditional understanding of security for granted, but adopt a constructivist viewpoint. The articles included in this special issue have in common that they all aim to critically explore the way in which security threats and appropriate responses are perceived, defined and pursued by African actors, whether multilateral institutions, states, communities or individuals. We argue in favour of an understanding of agency which is relational and contextualised, where structures and agency are continuously reproduced over time and co-constitutive, a theme reflected across the studies presented. Through this approach we aim to challenge narrow, structure-dominated and overly restrictive approaches to understanding the responses of African actors to contemporary security challenges. We define security in a broad manner. Some studies are concerned with traditional security threats to states and regions, while others focus on the human security needs of individuals to not just survive on the margins of existence but to exercise their agency to improve, or at least attempt to improve, their lives.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/14678802.2013.849470
Uncontrolled keywords: african agency, structure-agency debate, security
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations > Conflict Analysis Research Centre
Depositing User: A. Hammerstad
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2013 10:59 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 11:19 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/36255 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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