The Sociology of Privatized Security

Ori Swed and Thomas Crosbie, eds. Palgrave MacMillan, 2019

The first book dedicated to the sociology of privatized security, this collection studies the important global trend of shifting security from public to private hands and the associated rise of Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) and their contractors. The volume first explores the trend itself, making important historical and theoretical revisions to the existing social science of private security. These chapters discuss why rulers buy, rent and create private militaries, why mercenaries have become private patriots, and why the legitimacy of military missions is undermined by the use of contractors. The next section challenges the idea that states have a monopoly on legitimate violence and questions our legal and economic assumptions about private security. The collection concludes with a discussion of the contractors themselves, focusing on gender, race, ethnicity, and other demographic factors. Featuring a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods and a range of theoretical and methodological innovations, this book will inspire sociologists to examine, with fresh eyes, the behind-the-scenes tension between the high drama of war and conflict and the mundane realities of privatized security contractors and their everyday lives.

Above the Fray: The Red Cross and the Making of the Humanitarian NGO Sector

Shai M. Dromi University of Chicago Press, 2020

From Lake Chad to Iraq, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) provide relief around the globe, and their scope is growing every year. Policy makers and activists often assume that humanitarian aid is best provided by these organizations, which are generally seen as impartial and neutral. In Above the Fray, Shai M. Dromi investigates why the international community overwhelmingly trusts humanitarian NGOs by looking at the historical development of their culture. With a particular focus on the Red Cross, Dromi reveals that NGOs arose because of the efforts of orthodox Calvinists, demonstrating for the first time the origins of the unusual moral culture that has supported NGOs for the past 150 years. Drawing on archival research, Dromi traces the genesis of the Red Cross to a Calvinist movement working in mid-nineteenth-century Geneva. He shows how global humanitarian policies emerged from the Red Cross founding members’ faith that an international volunteer program not beholden to the state was the only ethical way to provide relief to victims of armed conflict.

Becoming Human Again

Donald E. Miller, University of California Press, 2020

Genocide involves significant death and trauma. Yet the enormous scope of genocide comes into view when one looks at the factors that lead to mass killing, the struggle for survival during genocide, and the ways survivors reconstruct their lives after the violence ends. Over a one hundred day period in 1994, the country of Rwanda saw the genocidal slaughter of at least 800,000 Tutsi at the hands of members of the Hutu majority government. This book is a powerful oral history of the tragedy and its aftermath from the perspective of its survivors. Based on in-depth interviews conducted over the course of fifteen years, the authors take a holistic approach by tracing how victims experienced the horrific events, as well as how they have coped with the aftermath as they struggled to resume their lives. The Rwanda genocide deserves study and documentation not only because of the failure of the Western world to intervene, but also because it raises profound questions about the ways survivors create a new life out of the ashes of all that was destroyed. How do they deal with the all-encompassing traumas of genocide? Is forgiveness possible? And what does the process of rebuilding teach us about genocide, trauma, and human life?

Political Invisibility and Mobilization: Women against State Violence in Argentina, Yugoslavia, and Liberia

Selina Gallo-Cruz, Routledge, 2020

Political Invisibility and Mobilization explores the unseen opportunities available to those considered irrelevant and disregarded during periods of violent repression. In a comparative study of three women’s peace movements, in Argentina, the former Yugoslavia, and Liberia, the concept of political invisibility is developed to identify the unexpected beneficial effects of marginalization in the face of regime violence and civil war. Each chapter details the unique ways these movements avoided being targeted as threats to regime power and how they utilized free spaces to mobilize for peace. Their organizing efforts among international networks are described as a form of field-shifting that gained them the authority to expand their work at home to bring an end to war and rebuild society. The robust conceptual framework developed herein offers new ways to analyze the variations and nuances of how social status interacts with opportunities for effective activism. This book presents a sophisticated theory of political invisibility with historical detail from three remarkable stories of courage in the face of atrocity. With relevance for political sociology, social movement studies, women’s studies, and peace and conflict studies, it contributes to scholarly understanding of mobilization in repressive states while also offering strategic insight to movement practitioners.

Social Life in the Movies: How Hollywood Imagines War, Schools, Romance, Aging, and Social Inequality

James J. Dowd, Routledge, 2020

Through an analysis of hundreds of Hollywood movies, this book examines some of the most contentious social issues of our time, including racism, social inequality, sexism, and gerontophobia. With studies of some of the most enduring film genres in Hollywood’s history, including romantic films such as Casablanca, war movies from World War II through the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, alienation films, including Five Easy Pieces and Lost in Translation, the school movie, from Goodbye, Mr. Chips to other films set in academia, including Dead Poets Society and Dangerous Minds, the book outlines and demonstrates the sociological approach to viewing films and highlights the socially conservative nature of much Hollywood movie production, which draws on common stereotypes and reinforces dominant cultural values - but is also capable of challenging and serving to change them.

Unconventional Combat: Intersectional Action in the Veterans’ Peace Movement

Michael A. Messner, Oxford University Press

In Unconventional Combat, Michael A. Messner traces a generational shift of the US veterans’ peace movement. Centering on life-history interviews with six veterans of color, Messner shows how their experiences of sexual and gender harassment, sexual assault, racist and homophobic abuse during their military service has shaped their political views and action. Drawing upon participant observation with the Veterans For Peace and About Face organizations and interviews with older male veterans as his backdrop, Messner shows how veterans’ military experiences form their collective “situated knowledge” of intersecting oppressions. This knowledge, Messner argues, further shapes their intersectional praxis, which promises to transform the veterans’ peace movement and potentially link their anti-militarist work with other movement groups working for change. As intersectionality has increasingly become central to the conversation on social movements, Unconventional Combat is not only a story about the US veterans’ peace movement, but it also offers broad relevance to the larger world of social justice activism.

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Strader, E., & Smith, C. M. (2022). Some Parents Survive and Some Don't: The Army and the Family as “Greedy Institutions”. Public Administration Review.

Youssef, M. (2021). Unlikely Feminist Coalitions: Islamist and Secularist Women’s Organizing in Tunisia. Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society.

Swed, O. (2021). Implausible sovereigns and their organizational logic: violent non-state actors’ response to COVID-19. Small Wars & Insurgencies, 1-30.

Swed, O., & Materne, A. (2021). No Accounting for Bad Contracting: Private Military and Security Contracts and Ineffective Regulation in Conflict Areas. Studies in Comparative International Development, 1-27.

Swed, O., & Davis, A. P. (2021). The Domestic Terrorist Profile. In Terrorism inside American Borders. 27-36

Acosta, L. (2021). Victimhood dissociation and conflict resolution: evidence from the Colombian peace plebiscite. Theory and Society, 1-36.

Zahar, A. (2021). "From Recognition to Redistribution? Protest Movements in Iraq in the Age of ‘New Civil Society" Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding

Gosnell, C. L., Kelly, D. R., Ender, M. G., & Matthews, M. D. (2020). Character strengths and performance outcomes among military brat and non-brat cadets. Military Psychology, 32(2), 186-197.

De Angelis, K. K., Kelty, R., Ender, M. G., Rohall, D. E., & Matthews, M. D. (2020). Ubiquity with a Dark Side: Civil-Military Gaps in Social Media Usage. In Social Media and the Armed Forces (pp. 15-30). Springer, Cham.

Luft, A. (2020). How Do you Repair a Broken World? Conflict (ing) Archives after the Holocaust. Qualitative Sociology, 43(3), 317-343.

Savelsberg, J. J. (2020). Writing biography in the face of cultural trauma: Nazi descent and the management of spoiled identities. American Journal of Cultural Sociology, 1-31.

Bloom, J. (2020). The Dynamics of Repression and Insurgent Practice in the Black Liberation Struggle. American Journal of Sociology, 126(2), 195-259.

Chavez K., & Swed, O. (2020). "The proliferation of drones to violent nonstate actors". Defence Studies.

Chavez K., & Swed, O. (2020). "Off the Shelf: The violent nonstate actor drone threat". Air & Space Power Journal. 34, 1.

Golubović, Jelena. (2019). “‘One Day I Will Tell This to My Daughter’: Serb Women, Silence, and the Politics of Victimhood in Sarajevo.” Anthropological Quarterly 92 (4): 1173-1199.

Kamenou, N. (2020). “When one doesn't even exist': Europeanization, trans* subjectivities, and agency in Cyprus.” Sexualities, forthcoming.

Kamenou, N. (2020). “Difficult Intersections: Nation (alism) and the LGBTIQ Movement in Cyprus.” Pp. 162-82 in E. Evans & E. Le pinard, eds, Intersectionality in Feminist and Queer Movements: Confronting Privileges. London & New York: Routledge.

Kamenou, N. (2019). “Feminism in Cyprus: women’s agency, gender, and peace in the shadow of nationalism.” International Feminist Journal of Politics. DOI: 10.1080/14616742.2019.1687000

Kamenou, N. (2019). “Sexuality, gender and the (re) making of modernity and nationhood in Cyprus.” Women's Studies International Forum, 74.

Kamenou, N. (2019). “The LGBTI Movement in Cyprus: Activism, Law, and Change Across the Divide” (with E. Ethemer, C. Gavrielides & O. Bullici). Published in English, Greek, Turkish & German. Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, 2019. ISBN: 9789963202164

Krase, Jerome and Judith N. DeSena (Eds.) (2020). Gentrification around the World, Volume 1: Gentrifiers and the Displaced, Palgrave-Macmillan.

Krase, Jerome and Judith N. DeSena (Eds.) (2020). Gentrification around the World, Volume 2: Innovative Approaches, Palgrave-Macmillan.

Swed, O., Kwon, J., Feldscher, B., & Crosbie, T. (2020). The corporate war dead: New perspectives on the demographics of American and British Contractors. Armed Forces & Society, 46(1), 3-24.

Swed, O., & Burland, D. (2020). Contractors in Iraq: Exploited Class or Exclusive Club?. Armed Forces & Society, 0095327X20927471.

Swed, O; & Burland, D. (2020). “The Global Expansion of PMSCs: Trends, Opportunities, and Risks” Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination.

Swed, O., Sheehan, C. M., & Butler, J. S. (2020). The Digital Divide and Veterans’ Health: Differences in Self-Reported Health by Internet Usage. Armed Forces & Society, 46(2), 238-258.

Swed, O; & Burland, D. (2020). "Outsourcing War and Security". Oxford Encyclopedia of the Military in Politics. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637.013.ORE_POL-01925.R1

Swed, O. The path to outsourcing security in Southeast Asia. (2020). NYU SPS CGA Working Paper No. 2/2020.

Swed, O. (2020). Breaking the Order: The Intended and Unintended Consequences of Countersurveillance on the West Bank. Surveillance & Society, 18(1), 48-60.

Swed, O. (2020). When Ideology Replaces the Market: Gentrification in East Jerusalem. In Gentrification around the World, Volume I (pp. 265-290). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Swed, O., & Stubblefield, S. F. (2020). 9 Resisting or appropriating. in Limited Statehood and Informal Governance in the Middle East and Africa.

Tubi, O. (2020). "Kill me a mosquito and I will build a state: political economy and the socio-technicalities of Jewish colonization in Palestine, 1922–1940." Theory and Society: 1-28.