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

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Hammerstad, Anne (2013)

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

    2. Brown, 'A Question of Agency', 1890. Africa Forward'. Similar views were presented in an EU­

    3. Kaldor, New and Old Wars. commissioned report on European funding of APSA.

    4. Vines, 'A Decade of the ASPtSrAau';s, 'Wars do End!'; See Poulton et , 1 of the African Peace Facility Welz, 'The African Union Beyond Africa'. Evaluation, 17.

    5. Klingebiel, 'Africa's New Peace and Security Architec- 7. Beswick, 'Understanding and Mitigating Risk'. See also ture'. Fisher in this volume.

    6. The weaknesses of APSA's institutions are recognised by 8. Feldman, 'Problems Plaguing'. See also Mickler and both AU actors and donors. In 2010, the former Fisher in this volume. commander of the Botswana Defence Force, L.M. Fisher, 9. Straus, 'Wars do End!' led an AU evaluation team that noted, among ot1h0e.r Ibid., 181. things, the need to improve staffing levels, the weak 11c.o- See Perera in this volume on the FDLR ordination between APSA's many components, and that 12. See Thomson in this volume anHdammerstad, 'the operationalization of the APSA has been largely 'Securitisation from Below'. 3 1 0 2 r e b m e v o N 6 0 5 2 : 3 2 t a ] d a t s r e m m a H e n n A [ y b d e d a o l n w o D

    13. Paris, 'Human Security'. Lessons of Contemporary RwandAa'.frican Affairs

    14. Suhrke, 'A Stalled Initiative'. forthcoming (Accepted August 2013).

    15. Fisher et ,al.'Moving Africa Forward', 9. Beswick, D. and H. Marquette, 2011. 'State-Building,

    16. Abrahamsen, 'A Breeding Ground for Terrorists?'. Security & Development: State-Building as a New

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