Requiem for risk: non-knowledge and domination in the governance of weapons circulation

Stavrianakis, Anna (2019) Requiem for risk: non-knowledge and domination in the governance of weapons circulation. International Political Sociology. ISSN 1749-5679

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Analyses of risk in international political sociology and critical security studies have unpicked its operation as a preventive and pre-emptive political technology. This article examines the counter-case of the governance of weapons circulation, in which risk has been mobilised as a permissive technology. Examining UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia and the war in Yemen, I demonstrate how risk assessment constitutes a regime of recklessness in which risk is made not to matter in three main ways: systematic not-knowing about international humanitarian law violations; unintentional harm and practices of reputation management; and future-proofing the inherent temporality of risk. I argue that risk has served to facilitate arms exports despite the potential for harm: it has been mobilised as a mode of domination. This does not suggest a failure of risk as a governance strategy or a contradiction in its operation, however. Rather, it illustrates the generative character of risk as a regulatory technology in contexts marked by asymmetrical power dynamics. If the potential for domination is built in to the operation of risk, we need a requiem for risk and a search for alternative grounds of repoliticisation that can generate more adequate modes of regulation and accountability.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Development
School of Global Studies > International Relations
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex Centre for Conflict and Security Research
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Depositing User: Anna Stavrianakis
Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2019 08:59
Last Modified: 21 Dec 2021 02:00

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