The Security Archipelago

Human-Security States, Sexuality Politics, and the End of Neoliberalism

The Security Archipelago

Book Pages: 328 Illustrations: 41 photographs, 5 figures Published: July 2013

Author: Paul Amar

Gender and Sexuality, Geography, Globalization and Neoliberalism

In The Security Archipelago, Paul Amar provides an alternative historical and theoretical framing of the refashioning of free-market states and the rise of humanitarian security regimes in the Global South by examining the pivotal, trendsetting cases of Brazil and Egypt. Addressing gaps in the study of neoliberalism and biopolitics, Amar describes how coercive security operations and cultural rescue campaigns confronting waves of resistance have appropriated progressive, antimarket discourses around morality, sexuality, and labor. The products of these struggles—including powerful new police practices, religious politics, sexuality identifications, and gender normativities—have traveled across an archipelago, a metaphorical island chain of what the global security industry calls "hot spots." Homing in on Cairo and Rio de Janeiro, Amar reveals the innovative resistances and unexpected alliances that have coalesced in new polities emerging from the Arab Spring and South America's Pink Tide. These have generated a shared modern governance model that he terms the "human-security state."


“Amar’s analysis of the politics and culture of the human-security state provides an alternative and declining history of neoliberalism. . . . He pushes critical security studies forward when he questions whether decisions to disregard the Global South contribute to the field’s tendency to legitimate securitization.”  — Jaime Madden, Powerlines

“Amar traces the contradictory contours of state power, more interested in its own survival than that of its citizens. Especially for scholars of the changing global status of gender and sexuality, this is a book which expands the scope of the field.” — Constance G. Anthony, New Political Science

"The book puts forth numerous ground-breaking arguments that will enable its readers to rethink the very nature of contemporary neoliberal governance, humanitarianism, and the relation between the global North and global South. It speaks very clearly to contemporary political struggles surrounding state security logics, militarism, sexuality, and human trafficking, but in ways that are entirely unanticipated."  — Omnia El Shakry, GLQ

“There is much to recommend The Security Archipelago and it makes a number of significant scholarly contributions. From the perspective of a Latin Americanist, a particularly provocative and paradigm-shifting insight is Amar's debunking of a commonly held view of the region's military and political left—or, of civil society and the state, for that matter—as antagonists…. Yet what ismost valuable about the book for scholars whatever their particular field of expertise within Global Studies is Amar's sensitivity to language in—and especially his elaboration of new terminology for ... talking about human-security governance…. Amar's is an incisive and thought-provoking account of the human costs of security in the twenty first century.” — Rebecca J. Atencio, International Feminist Journal of Politics

“Through the lenses of the intensely overlapping realms of morality and urban politics, The Security Archipelago provides a new map that refigures how rule works and how it fails to work. … Amar poses the labor of the activist as a form of theorization. Dissidents and revolutionaries are, after all, the social theorists whomthe experts must finally listen to, as Amar does so carefully and attentively in this work.” — Sherene Seikaly, Journal of Middle East Women's Studies

“[T]his is an ambitious text, and one that offers much for scholars to work with and on which they may build. Amar has articulated a generative framework for thinking about the ways in which political formations develop and spread. Furthermore, he has linked a variety of social, cultural, and economic phenomena to processes of governance and securitization in novel ways that may be productively mobilized in future scholarship.” — Claire Panetta, Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology

The Security Archipelago is a prescient interdisciplinary analysis that anticipates the Arab rebellions in Cairo and locates them in a longer history of what Amar calls ‘human security states.’ … The Security Archipelago helps us understand how both visions for the global South employ a discourse of human security.” — Alex Lubin, American Quarterly

“The book is smart, creative, and deserves to be widely read. . . . [A]dvanced students and scholars of the anthropology of policing, governmentality, sexual politics, the rising Global South, Brazil, or Egypt, will find The Security Archipelago to be a bold and intellectually provocative contribution to these fields of inquiry.” — Avram Bornstein, American Ethnologist

“[W]ide-ranging case studies ground the book’s critical security analysis in sites of struggle, making important contributions to the understanding of the spread of urban violence and progressive social policy in Brazil and the rise of left-right coalitions in Islamic urban planning and revolutionary uprisings in Egypt. … Amar’s book offers a two-pronged challenge to dominant theories of neoliberalism.” — Neel Ahuja, boundary 2

"Paul Amar’s The Security Archipelago has received (well-deserved) attention for its interventions into political science discussions of security, into queer studies discussions of sexuality, and within the general academic humanities for its arguments concerning a transition from neoliberalism to human security. What Amar’s The Security Archipelago proposes is nothing less than the thesis that neoliberal forms of governance in the Global South, which feature market legitimation and consumer subjectivity, have been overcome by forms of human security governance.  … Amar’s work gives Latin Americanists a way into discussions of sexuality and race which don’t collapse into the dreaded identity politics." — Brian Whitener, Pública Común

“This book identifies a transition in governance language articulated in the global South, triggering deployment of new practices of repression as well as political resistance, largely interpolated in function of their gender and sexuality. Sexuality becomes a central axis fundamental for constituting these forms of humanitarian rescue through what Amar identifies as its ‘parahuman’ subjects. In this way sexuality animates the essential logic of securitized domination. Amar insists that the constellations that define the archipelago of security are not traces of pre-modern, decadent, or traditional subjects persisting in the global South. Instead, they are the laboratories of the future, the emergent face of new modalities of governance and new modernities.” (translated from the Portuguese) — Osmundo Pinho, Revista Brasileira de Ciências Sociais

"In focusing on a new kind of politics emerging in the Global South, [Amar] advances the transnational turn in area studies and offers specialists in Brazilian studies a novel way of thinking about their shifting object of study in the world today." — John Tofik Karam, Luso-Brazilian Review

"The Security Archipelago accomplishes several theoretical and methodological feats through his combination of archival, ethnographic, and fieldwork research.... The Security Archipelago is a necessary read for anthropologists interested in the Middle East, South America, transnational anthropology, urban studies, securitization studies, studies of the state, and, finally, feminist and queer theory." — Maya Mikdashi, American Anthropologist

"This book is overwhelming in the best way possible, combining ethnography with theoretical finesse. His chapters draw upon and speak within and between the fields of political anthropology, comparative political studies, critical security studies, queer studies, urban development, political economy, peace studies, and feminist International Relations." — Meghana Nayak, International Studies Review

"An extraordinary book that revolutionizes the way to think about security, undermines conventional wisdom, and offers us a wonderfully lucid study of an obscure subject-matter, including detailed inquiry into state/society relations in Egypt and Brazil. Among many contributions is the brilliant depiction of the evolving interface between state security (its visible and invisible apparatus) and people subject to its control, including a fascinating account of the sexualization of politics as an emergent dimension of both oppression and resistance. A must read!" — Richard Falk, coauthor of The Path to Zero: Dialogues on Nuclear Dangers

"Paul Amar is a totally unique scholar. He works in English, Arabic, and Portuguese and he studies security regimes in a comparative framework that encompasses the Middle East, North and South America, and Europe. For this reason, it is not surprising that The Security Archipelago is a one of a kind book. Combining the research that he has done in Brazil and Egypt on the emergence of new forms of security and new grammars of protest politics with the unfolding stories of an economic boom in Brazil and political change in Egypt, Amar has written an up to the moment account of the 'human-security state' and its opponents. Anyone who seeks to understand emergent orders of security alongside the political movements challenging them around the world must read this book." — Jack Halberstam, author of The Queer Art of Failure

"Paul Amar's Security Archipelago deploys a striking metaphor to upset the smooth and complacent assumptions that characterize the discourse and thinking of 'security experts'. Working from the streets, and indeed from the activist networks that actually drive world politics, he demonstrates how misconceived it is to imagine that our security starts with the nation-state - its 'secure' borders and its 'security' forces. The real action is elsewhere: in the moralizing rescue projects promoted through world religions and non-governmental organizations, and the private/public nexus through which military, police and commercial weaponry fuel more-or-less armed conflicts. This book has the whiff of street politics on every page, and in that way it explains just why we see such supposedly puzzling - and certainly frightening - events in the visual media that make the news."  — Terrell Carver

"A game changer. A meeting of political theory and queer studies that thoroughly transforms each." — Jasbir Puar

“The ever-creative Paul Amar is a wonderfully engaging speaker and brilliant writer.”  — Derek Gregory


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Paul Amar is Associate Professor of Global Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. A political scientist and anthropologist, he has worked as a journalist in Egypt, a police reformer in Brazil, and a United Nations conflict resolution and economic development specialist.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction. The Archipelago of New Security-State Uprisings 1

1. Mooring a New Global Order between Cairo and Rio de Janeiro: World Summits and Human-Security Laboratories 39

2. Policing the Perversions of Globalization in Rio de Janeiro and Cairo: Emerging Parastatal Security Regimes Confront Queer Globalisms 65

3. Muhammad Atta's Urbanism: Rescuing Islam, Saving Humanity, and Securing Gender's Proper Place in Cairo 99

4. Saving the Cradle of Samba in Rio de Janeiro: Shadow-State Uprisings, Urban Infranationalisms, and the Racial Politics of Human Security 139

5. Operation Princess in Rio de Janeiro: Rescuing Sex Slaves, Challenging the Labor-Evangelical Alliance, and Defining the Sexuality Politics of an Emerging Human-Security Superpower 172

6. Feminist Insurrections and the Egyptian Revolution: Harassing Police, Recognizing Classphobias, and Everting the Logics of the Human-Security State in Tahrir Square 200

Conclusion. The End of Neoliberalism? 235

Notes 253

References 261

Index 297
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5398-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5384-3
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