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Recent and Fortchoming Activities

The group recently recruited new members and posted a call for conference papers at the ISA-BISA 2012 conference. The working group will be presenting the following panel, in conjunction with the International Studies (ISA) Post Communist Systems in International Relations Section.
 

Securitizing Transition in the Post-Communist Space


Joint Panel of BISA’s Working Group on South East Europe and ISA’s Post Communist Systems in International Relations Section

PANEL CONVENORS:

Dr Denisa Kostovicova, London School of Economics and Political Science, Co-Convenor of the Working Group on South East Europe, British International Studies Association

Dr Gemma Collantes-Celador, City University London, Co-Convenor of the Working Group on South East Europe, British International Studies Association

Dr Andrei V. Korobkov, Middle Tennessee State University, President of Post Communist Systems in International Relations Section, International Studies Association

PANEL ABSTRACT

Transition from Communist illiberal regimes in Central and Eastern Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s unfolded alongside the intensification of global political, economic and cultural interconnectedness. Simultaneously, security has been reconceptualized radically, leading to two different understandings of security. One is linked to state-centred geopolitical understandings framed by national interests and hard security threats, while the other is individual-centred, encompassing a multiplicity of threats, including those of a socio-economic nature. While the debate about the validity of the two understandings of security, including their relationship, is ongoing, over two decades of transition in the post-Communist space, from the former Yugoslavia to the former Soviet Union, have illustrated amply that understandings of security in that context are complex and intrinsically related to vulnerabilities in everyday lives.  This reality has been additionally accentuated in areas where transitions from illiberal regimes have coincided with transitions from conflict to peace.

Chair 1: Dr Gemma Collantes-Celador, City University London, Co-Convenor of the Working Group on South East Europe, British International Studies Association

Chair 2: Dr Andrei V. Korobkov, Middle Tennessee State University, President of Post Communist Systems in International Relations Section, International Studies Association

Discussant: Dr Gemma Collantes-Celador, City University London, Co-Convenor of the Working Group on South East Europe, British International Studies Association.

Paper 1.1

Desecuritization of Islam through Interfaith Cooperation and State’s Ambiguity: The Case of Russia

Simona E. Merati

PhD Candidate in International Relations

School of Public and International Affairs

Florida International University, Miami (USA)

Email: smera001@fiu.edu

Since the 1990s, Russian Islam has gained in strength and general diffusion both territorially and socially. In the Northern Caucasus, for the Russian government this is synonymous with terrorism and security threats. In other regions of Russia, though, Muslims do not fight the Russian state. On the contrary, they claim to have contributed to Russia’s identity building – and want more political influence.  By doing this, they inevitably challenge Orthodoxy’s historical position as depositary of Russian culture. Given the traditional political role of religion in Russia, this could cause friction over social and political influence. Instead, Muslim and Orthodox organizations are often cooperating on issues of mutual (non-doctrinal) interest. On its part, the central government appears to be insisting on secularism, while (officially) granting all confessions the same rights.  This new dynamism of relations may be crucial for Russia’s future socio-political equilibrium.  Through the reading of direct sources, the paper examines the public dialogue between Muslims (outside of the Caucasus), the Patriarchate and the Government and identifies main issues of cooperation and contention. It then analyzes these dynamics from a state-security perspective, in particular as far as securitization of Islam is concerned. It evaluates the possibility that, in Russia, successful interfaith relations may effectively contribute to the desecuritization of Islam as a social and political threat. Furthermore, the Russian government’s attitude toward the country’s two main confessions – whatever its real motives - may also constitute a working alternative to a securitized Islam.

Paper 1.2

Anticipating Global Changes in the South Caucasus?
Lilia Arakelyan

Doctoral Student, Teaching & Research Assistant
Department of International Studies
University of Miami
1000 Memorial Drive, Ferré Building
Coral Gables, Florida 33124
Email: l.arakelyan@umiami.edu

This paper looks at how social and economic insecurity affects the transition to democracy in the South Caucasus. It is important to note that the South Caucasus has become a region of strategic interest for the West and the East after the Soviet collapse, and one may conclude that security issues had to be the main priorities for the key players in the region: Russia, Turkey, Iran, the EU and the United States. Nevertheless, while Russia is interested in advancing its influence in the South Caucasian republics (mostly in Armenia and Azerbaijan), the West is looking to minimize Russian economic and political influence in the region. Based on an assessment of the importance of securitarization resulting from the conflicts of the past two decades and of the transition from totalitarian regimes to democratic ones, this paper will analyze how global changes of an economic and political nature have affected the Caspian region and the role of the East and the West, if any, in this transition. The paper will focus on how the ethnic conflicts in the region have affected the national interest of each of the three Caucasian republics, and what can be done to accelerate the transition of the quasi-democratic regimes of the region toward full democracy.

Paper 1.3

The Post-Communist states and the changing balance of traditional and non-traditional security risks

Andrei V. Korobkov,

Middle Tennessee State University, USA

Email: korobkov@mtsu.edu

Mikhail A. Molchanov

St. Thomas University, Canada

Email: molchan@stu.ca


This paper addresses the problem arising from transnational and global challenges to traditional understanding of security and the new patterns of state-society articulation that emerge in response to these challenges.  As unforeseen security risks emerge both beneath and beyond the realm that has been normally reserved for national security and foreign policies, post communist states have to develop new functionalities and adjust accordingly. However, the adaptation is slow and convoluted. Using Russia as the main example, the paper will argue that ex-totalitarian states’ attempts to deal simultaneously with new agents of foreign and security policies and previously unimaginable types of security threats often result in policy failures. This drives regionalization and “banding” of several look-alike regimes in Eurasia. Additionally, the changing balance of traditional and non-traditional security risks most heavily impacts societies that still recover from the shocks of the post-communist transition. The state incapacities that new security risks reveal make hybrid regimes move further away from democracy, while hardening authoritarian tendencies and official nationalism. These changes in policies carry substantial implications for the fate of the emerging civil societies. We note the diminishing role of NGOs, the rise of nationalism and xenophobia, and the radicalization of mainstream political parties through mimicking of their fringe counterparts and various attempts to kidnap
their agenda. To illustrate these points we look at labour and other forms of international and regional migration and the mainstream societies’ reactions to the newcomers.

Panel 1.4

Sovereignty and Insecurity in Kosovo: Disconnects from a Bottom-up Perspective

Dr Denisa Kostovicova

Senior Lecturer in Global Politics

Government Department

London School of Economics and Political Science

BISA membership: 2296bisa08

E-mail: d.kostovicova@lse.ac.uk

 

Dr Mary Martin

Senior Research Fellow

Department of International Development

London School of Economics and Political Science

E-mail: m.c.martin@lse.ac.uk

 

Dr Vesna Bojicic-Dzelilovic

Senior Research Fellow

Department of International Development

London School of Economics and Political Science

E-mail: v.bojicic-dzelilovic@lse.ac.uk

The contest over territory and borders is conventionally singled out as an important  source of insecurity in the scholarship on conflict resolution. Territorial claims are seen as a key frame overshadowing all other security concerns. In this paper, we build on the literature that distinguishes between juridical and empirical sovereignty in order to examine whether such framing and prioritising of security concerns is valid. Drawing on extensive primary data from research into human security in Kosovo, using a bottom-up methodology and focusing on comparative understandings of insecurity among Albanians and Serbs, the paper reveals a much more complex experience of insecurity, which challenges ‘nationalist’ frames. Drawing on specific examples, related to political authority, security providers and the rule of law, the findings illustrate paradoxical articulations of insecurity by both communities in Kosovo. These articulations point to a highly securitised transition to democracy in Kosovo, but in ways which could not be inferred directly from the fact of its contested sovereignty.

 More information is available here.


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