Global assemblages and counter-piracy: public and private in maritime policing

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There is wide agreement among scholars that the shift from government to governance in security has seen unprecedented levels of cooperation (and competition) between private security actors (PSAs) and law enforcement agencies in the policing of public spaces, and the formation of fluid, diverse policing assemblages. With the overriding goal of investigating how the politics of security governance vary across time and space, this article seeks to explore security assemblage structures in counter-piracy operations on the high seas. Specifically, it studies the assembly of coercive force between public and private actors there, and compares this to the experience of multilateral security governance in other policing environments. On the back of this, it suggests that the formation of security assemblages in maritime space involves a configuration of public and private in which private actors have great prominence in (and authority over) the distribution of legitimate coercive force in ‘public good’ or ‘civilised’ security provision. Consequently, it argues that in this space, private interests (rather than those of the nation) may be central in the assembly of ‘civilised’ security interests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-418
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Early online date11 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Private security
  • Maritime piracy
  • Global governance
  • Assemblage


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