1st Edition

Transnational Companies and Security Governance Hybrid Practices in a Postcolonial World

By Jana Hönke Copyright 2013
    248 Pages
    by Routledge

    248 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book investigates governance practiced by non-state actors. It analyses how multinational mining companies protect their sites in fragile contexts and what that tells us about political ordering 'beyond' the state. 

    Based on extensive primary research in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Europe and North America, the book compares companies' political role in the 19th and 21st centuries. It demonstrates that despite a number of disturbing parallels, many contemporary practices are not a reversion to the past but unique to the present. The book discloses hybrid security practices with highly ambiguous effects around the sites of contemporary companies that have committed to norms of corporate social and security responsibility. Companies invest in local communities, and offer human rights training to security forces alongside coercive techniques of fortress protection, and stability-oriented clientele practice and arrangements of indirect rule. The book traces this hybridity back to contradictory collective meaning systems that cross borders and structure the perceptions and choices of company managers, private security officers, NGO collaborators and others practitioners. The book argues that hybrid security practices are not the result of an encounter between a supposed ‘local’ with the liberal ‘global’. Instead, this hybridity is inherent in the transnational and part and parcel of liberal transnational governance. Therefore, more critical reflection of global governance in practice is required.

    These issues are sharply pertinent to liberal peacebuilding as well as global governance more broadly. The book will be of interest to anyone interested in business, politics and human rights; critical security studies; peacebuilding and statebuilding; African politics; and ethnographic and sociological approaches to global governance and international relations more generally.

    1. Introduction  2. Engaging Hybrid Security Governance  3. Transnationalised Business Spaces in a Postcolonial World  4. Practicing Hybrid Security: Multinational Companies and Hybrid Security Practices, post-1995 5. Understanding Hybrid Security Practices: Transnational Meaning Systems, post-1995 6. Companies, Security Governance and Change: Practicing Transnational Meaning Systems, 1890s-1920s 7. Conclusion


    Jana Hönke is a Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Edinburgh. She is also a senior research associate with the Collaborative Research Centre SFB 700 at Freie Universität Berlin.

    "The unique strength of Hönke’s argument lies, perhaps paradoxically, in refusing to attribute to multinational corporations a straightforward role in local security governance in contexts of weak statehood. Showing how local security managers combine different globally circulating security discourses and translate them into hybrid local security strategies renders corporations more ‘real’ (one could say more ‘human’) than studies that grant seemingly unified global discourses unlimited power over local practices. This means that her nuanced analysis of the security practices of mining companies helps to dispel many prevailing myths, and is therefore a must-read for scholars who wish to understand the complexity of the role of multinational corporations in contemporary sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, the careful interdisciplinary heuristic analytical framework that Hönke applies to her case studies makes this book more generally of interest to anyone concerned with studying contemporary governance beyond the state in terms of the interrelations between global discourses and local practices." - Peer Schouten. School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg