Performing piracy: a note on the multiplicity of agency

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This is a study of pirate agency. Starting from an understanding of agency as an effect of ‘agencements’, I offer a reconstruction of six of such formations. Relying on different experiences with Somali piracy, ranging from watching movies, playing computer games, participating as an observer in various meetings, taking field notes, talking to interlocutors to reading academic literature, I show how different agencements produce different forms of agency. Throughout this reconstruction, we meet different pirates, moral bandits, enemies and villains, criminals, entrepreneurs, pirates as ‘symptoms’ and the pirate in denial. These are forms of agency that are the effects of the relations and practices of distinct agencements. Various ‘actors’, ‘objects’ and ‘practices’ produce these relations: journalists, moviemaker, game developer, diplomats, military officers and international bureaucrats, as well as various scientists across the disciplinary spectrum are all in the business of producing pirate agency. They engage in a diverse set of rhetorical and material activities, such as calculating, modelling, negotiating, writing or history telling and engage with a broad host of artefacts, and inscriptions, such as movies, games, policy documents, or legal texts. The analysis presents a primer for the study of the multiplicity of agency and its production.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of International Relations and Development
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)832-852
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

    Research areas

  • Agency, Methodology, Multiplicity, Pirates, Practice

ID: 200875242