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The constitutive dimension of corporate agency can be left untheorized, resulting in a particular spatial ontology of nation-states as units and actors. What is the significance of this for security studies? First, methodological nationalism has the effect of structuring the field of security studies in particular ways, from how war itself is defined to how quantitative datasets, such as The Correlates of War Project COW , are produced.


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Contemporary drone warfare, for example, leads to the complete physical separation of the combatant from the battlefield, the battlefield from a war, and the combatant from civil society Wilcox The spatial dimensions of civil wars in states such as Kosovo, Sri Lanka, and Turkey have all shifted over time, with external actors, such as diaspora populations in Europe or North America, playing a more or less significant role in providing resources and support for the conflicts Brun and Van Hear ; Koinova Nation-states are historical constructions that bring together national identities and practices of violence in territorialized socio-spatial configurations.

Yet, advanced conditions of globalization are creating new spaces in which identity and security come together in ways that still have not been fully theorized. Space is as much a construct as it is a physical entity. Geographers, such as Lefebvre [] , Harvey , , , and Soja , have distinguished between the spaces of capitalism, especially as they emerge in urban contexts, and other conceptualizations of space, such as religious spaces infused with sacred meanings see Hassner , Massey extends these notions by examining the ways in which contemporary spaces are sites of multiple and interlinking power relations that operate at many levels, from the micro-level of the physical body to the local, national, and global levels.

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These levels can be thought of as scales and scalar processes and are helpful for mapping out the complexities of spatial arrangements in ways that are more sophisticated than a simple levels-of-analysis approach Sjoberg Space is always defined and co-constituted by a multiplicity of heterogeneous relations and interactions, including practices of violence. Theorizing the socio-spatial dimensions of particular practices has been usefully employed as a means of gaining greater analytical leverage across a number of other issue areas in international politics.

Spaces of confinement, such as the refugee camp, separate out victim populations, while aid workers congregate in the lobbies of international hotels and drive around in white sports utility vehicles SUVs. Seen in aggregate, such spaces of confinement and detention collectively constitute a distinctive type of space and form of securitization of populations that is widespread across the globe Khalili ; Lundby Spaces of humanitarian crises and tourism have come together in physical locales such as the Italian island of Lampedusa or the Greek islands of Kos and Lesbos, as desperate migrants inhabit the same space as European holidaymakers.

Such incidents suggest the need to expand our view of how we think about where security practices take place, how security relates to different types of spaces, what the political implications of this are, and how it relates to the future of global security.

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If the particular spatial configuration of the nation-state epitomized modernity, global cities may epitomize the era of advanced globalization. Global cities have caught the attention of geographers, sociologists, and scholars of migration as important drivers of globalization processes and markers of a new global landscape Friedmann and Wolff ; Chase-Dunn , ; Friedmann ; Castells ; Acuto The concept of the global city, associated with the work of Saskia Sassen , was an attempt to rethink the geography of contemporary globalization by examining the consequences of the simultaneous dispersion and concentration of global economic activities in urban metropoles.

As the world population becomes increasingly urbanized, the combination of dispersion and concentration means that global cities can be viewed as microcosms of broader global power relations, bringing together—in close proximity—powerful global elites and large underclasses in concentrated spaces. Cities are also sites of institutional density and concentrated resources in the form of government offices, cultural institutions, media outlets, transnational corporations, international organizations IOs , and international nongovernmental organizations INGOs.

Major global institutions, for example, are not free-floating but are rather embedded in particular geographic spaces. These are largely urban and metropolitan, meaning that the institutional geography of world politics is also a topography of urban spaces. They attract flows of global capital and labor in the form of both international finance and international migration. By attracting both capital and labor, cities perform roles as nodes in networks of global capital, and act as nodes in international migration networks and global diaspora politics.

The urban geography of the city thus reflects and replicates many of the broader structural inequalities and power relations found in the international system as a whole, but in a concentrated and condensed space Harvey , , ; Lefebvre [] ; Sassen ; Massey As sites of power in the global economy, they are spaces that allow for access to global institutions, resources, and media. Major cities act as nodes that connect dispersed activists in globally coordinated protests or campaigns.

Mega cities are important spaces for global agenda setting and the formation of global public opinion due to the presence of global media. All things being equal, events that take place in London, Paris, New York, Cairo, or Istanbul are more likely to receive media coverage and shape global public discourse than events that occur in more peripheral regions of the global economy. At the same time, and for similar reasons, cities are also becoming important objects of security policy.

Cities are increasingly characterized by surveillance and by the introduction of policing technologies designed to manage urban protest. They have their own security strategies; are engaged in networks of resilience to deal with terrorism or natural disasters; and work closely with their counterparts around the globe in areas such as police exchanges and cooperation. Cities and their workspaces, transport systems, public spaces, and shopping malls have also become focal points for larger global struggles. Such attacks receive global media coverage and take on a symbolic dimension in public discourse, playing into larger global narratives and discourses.


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  • Cities can be desirable targets due to the density of their infrastructure and population, but also due to the symbolic role they play as repositories of global power, finance, and culture. The paradoxical and multifaceted dimensions of global cities—as spaces of cosmopolitanism and capitalism, as well as spaces marked by intense inequalities, increasing surveillance, policing, and securitization—make them key spaces for theorizing contemporary security.

    Cities are at once embedded in particular national spaces and contexts and subject to the jurisdiction of national governments. But they also transcend these national spaces. Cities are quasi-autonomous centers of global power: they develop independent relations with other cities, have their own urban identities, and can implement autonomous security policies. In some respects, cities are becoming actors in their own right—competing with one another for resources and status, forming alliances, and joining global institutions—all behaviors that should not surprise either realists or liberal internationalists.

    Similar to global cities, cyberspace and social media function as important platforms of agenda setting and political contestation in the emerging global public sphere. Cyberspace, like global cities, can reflect global power relations, but in a different structural nonterritorial space in which connectivity and links are the currency of power and influence. Cyberspace is an arena in and of itself in which forms of politics take place —on websites, in chat rooms, and in other virtual spaces or platforms Adamson and Kumar The effect of cyberspace on power distribution is not predetermined but rather varies across cases.

    Global power relations provide the context for and inform the politics of cyberspace. For example, online identity politics are largely conducted in English, with key nodes and websites located in the global North Kumar ; Adamson and Kumar The Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir , for example, maintains a global media presence via its office and website in London, although it is banned in many other countries.

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    Tamil activists were able to avoid Sri Lankan censorship by running websites from locations such as Toronto and London Whitaker ; Kumar The World Wide Web thus becomes a nonterritorial space for the enactment of identity politics accompanied by new forms of symbolic politics and boundary maintenance activities. Such activities transcend the territorial boundaries of states, although they are nevertheless affected by and reflect the geopolitics of the interstate system.

    In many cases, territoriality continues to play an important symbolic role in online politics via the use of alternative maps and cartographic images Kurdistan, Khalistan, Kashmir, Palestine, Tamil Eelam, the Islamic Caliphate to contest dominant geopolitical narratives and provide a counter-hegemonic virtual alternative to existing territorial-juridical realities.

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    Some Sikh actors, for example, have created virtual spaces that replicate existing physical spaces, such as the Gurdwara temple or Langar Hall community gathering place for meals attached to temples Singh ; Adamson and Kumar Virtual space can also function as an arena in which non-state actors recruit members or mobilize political support, disseminating images electronically that are designed to galvanize virtual audiences Bolt Studies of cyberwarfare, for example, have tended to focus on the physical damage that cyberattacks could cause to territorial state interests Gartzke , rather than taking a long-term perspective on the underlying impact that cyberspace has on the formation of new transnational identities Betz , and its potential to delegitimize official state narratives and identities, thus affecting the ability of state actors to reproduce the social cohesion that undergirds statist models of corporate agency.

    Remarkably, in the week following the Charlie Hebdo attacks, French authorities reported that 19, websites had been hacked in France—an unprecedented scale of coordinated hacking incidents. Put another way, should regional organisations evolve as inter-state structures or as supra-national institutions?

    A related issue is that of multiple institutionalism: is it possible or even desirable to have more than one regional organisation with overlapping memberships as in Europe? This debate is closely related to that of how best to deal with hegemonic powers. As institutionalisation progresses, particularly in the security area, the issue of managing the periphery becomes more pressing.

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    Certain forms of security co-operation can act as 'force multipliers', potentially threatening neighbouring states and leading to counter-bloc formation. And successfully institutionalised organisations will inevitably create demands for new members, as with the EU.

    While there have not yet been any examples in modern history where regional organisations have ended the sovereignty of member states, there is no doubt that they inevitably — as with any international regime — require that states agree to work within certain limits, which may become progressively restrictive as institutionalisation progresses.

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    This is particularly the case in multifunctional organisations. Furthermore, states are naturally very concerned not to lose their ability to act independently in security matters. Under what conditions will states be willing to 'trade' some of their sovereign decision-making capacity for the benefits of inter-state co-operation? While the principle of 'non-interference in internal affairs', entrenched in the UN Charter although also potentially contradicted by the assertion of universal human rights , may have utility in terms of confidence building, in the long run it could be argued that it feeds instability, as it may result in tolerance of human rights violations, authoritarianism, and the like.

    Even more importantly, it demands the following question. Most of the organisations in this study are essentially state-driven projects, and in many cases the motivations for security co-operation appear to be driven by the mutual insecurities of state elites. They may have contributed to stability — essentially, maintenance of the status quo — and to the security of the regimes involved, but have they contributed to socio-economic development and to the security of their citizens — in other words, to human security? It can be asked whether regional security co-operation has merely shored up undemocratic regimes, or contributed to, and been built on the basis of, democratic values.

    This inevitably leads to a consideration of the arguments centred on the 'democratic peace' theory: if all countries in a region are democracies, can this lead to peaceful interactions and assist in building a security community? And is security organisation possible in contexts where democracies are not the norm?

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    This chapter will seek to answer all these questions by examining, in a selected way, the experience in the developing world of building regional organisations with security functions. The emergence of regional security co-operation organisations in the Western Hemisphere has been overshadowed by the hegemony of the United States. Nevertheless, like Europe and Africa, the Americas have evolved a continental security structure and a number of sub-regional ones, as well as a major trading organisation, NAFTA, which also has a limited political and security role.

    Like Africa, Latin America is littered with the corpses of failed sub-regional co-operation and integration organisations. The primary focus of MERCOSUR is on trade, and it has succeeded in substantially increasing inter-regional exports, but it has also increasingly taken on political and security functions. One of its first actions was to implement a nuclear weapons-free zone a process that started with the Treaty of Tlatelolco of ; it has facilitated joint military exercises and joint meetings of chiefs of staff; and in it declared itself a 'Zone of Peace', and member states agreed to enhance co-operation and promote CSBMs.

    This process has been facilitated by the demilitarisation of the region, with all countries moving — albeit in different ways and at different speeds — to reduce military power and influence in domestic and foreign policy, and to cut defence spending substantially. It has not sought to develop large supra-national institutions, and it has no standing security co-operation mechanism. This has created some problems. In the words of one commentator: 'The absence of any community entity with any advisory or decision-making power gives rise to conflicting responses that must always be resolved a posteriori through political decisions, which are not always transparent' Pereira On the other hand, this lack of institutionalism has necessitated continuous and informal high-level contact, which has helped to build trust and has allowed for flexibility.


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    • Heads of state and senior officials remain in regular contact with each other to discuss issues as they arise. MERCOSUR emerged at a time when all the member states were undergoing processes of transition from authoritarianism to democracy, and there was a conviction — which is common in many new regional organisations — that democracy would provide a firm foundation for inter-state peace.

      This may not really be true, as the chapter's conclusion argues, but an argument can certainly be made that MERCOSUR has assisted in stabilising and consolidating the democratic transitions in its member states.

      That the organisation is mostly concerned with trade, rather than politics or security, has not necessarily blunted its effectiveness in stabilising relations among states. One of the oldest regional organisations in the world, and one of the few to bring together developed United States, Canada and developing countries Latin America , the OAS has as its main feature the complete dominance of the United States.

      Multi-functional in nature and highly institutionalised, the OAS also has a mutual assistance function, through the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, better known as the Rio Pact, in terms of which members are required to assist another member under attack until the OAS or the UN Security Council can recommend a course of collective action. And when the OAS has not suited its purposes, e.