Performing piracy: a note on the multiplicity of agency

Original Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Agency Practice Pirates Multiplicity Methodology 

Notes

Acknowledgements

For comments and suggestions on previous versions of this manuscript, I am grateful to Benjamin Braun, Frank Gadinger, Daniel Orders, Anna Leander, Jan Stockbruegger, Peter Sutch, Tobias Wille as well as the anonymous reviewers of JIRD. Research for this article has benefited from a Grant by the Economic and Social Research Council of the UK (ES/K008358/1) and the British Academy (GF16007).

References

  1. Adler, Emanuel, and Vincent Pouliot. 2011. International Practices. International Theory 3 (1): 1–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Agent Technology Center. 2014. AgentC: Employing Agents to Fight Maritime Piracy, Project Description and Website. http://agents.fel.cvut.cz/projects/agentc/ Accessed 15 Jan 2014.
  3. Ali, Muna, and Zahra Murad. 2009. Unravelling Narratives of Piracy: Discourses of Somali Pirates. Darkmatter Journal 5: 91–102.Google Scholar
  4. Bellamy, Chris. 2011. Maritime Piracy. Return of the World’s Second-Oldest Security Problem. RUSI Journal 156 (6): 78–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Benatouil, Thomas. 1999. A Tale of Two Sociologies. The Critical and the Pragmatist Stance in Contemporary French Sociology. European Journal of Social Theory 2 (3): 379–396.Google Scholar
  6. Bendall, Helen B. 2010. Cost of Piracy: A Comparative Voyage Approach. Maritime Economics and Logistics 12: 178–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Berard, T.J. 2005. Rethinking Practices and Structures. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 35 (2): 196–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bliss, Frank. 2009. U.S. Military Considers Attacks on Somali Pirates Land Bases. Bloomberg, 13 April.Google Scholar
  9. Bucher, Bernd. 2017. Moving Beyond the Substantialist Foundations of the Agency-Structure Dichotomy: Figurational Thinking in International Relations. Journal of International Relations and Development 20 (1): 408–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bueger, Christian. 2013. Practice, Pirates and Coastguards: The Grand Narrative of Somali Piracy. Third World Quarterly 34 (10): 1811–1827.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bueger, Christian. 2014. Piracy Studies—Academic Responses to the Return of an Ancient Menace. Cooperation and Conflict 49 (3): 406–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bueger, Christian. 2015. Making Things Known: Epistemic Practice, the United Nations and the Translation of Piracy. International Political Sociology 9 (1): 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Burr, Ty. 2010. The Expendables: Stallone and His Band of Macho Men. Boston Globe, 13 August. http://www.boston.com/ae/movies/articles/2010/08/13/the_expendables/. Accessed 7 Jan 2014.
  14. Çalışkan, Koray and Michel Callon. 2009. Economization, part 1: shifting attention from the economy towards processes of economization. Economy and Society 38 (3): 369–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Çalışkan, Koray, and Michel Callon. 2010. Economization, Part 2: A Research Programme for the Study of Markets. Economy and Society 39 (1): 1–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Callon, Michel. 2007. What Does It Mean to Say That Economics is Performative? In Do Economists Make Markets? On the Performativity of Economics, ed. Donald MacKenzie, Fabian. Muniesa, and Lucia Siu. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Carney, Scott. 2009. Cutthroat Capitalism. The Pirates Who Prowl the Somali Coast Aren’t Just Buccaneers—They’re Also Businessmen. Wired 17 (7): 110–119.Google Scholar
  18. Cordingly, David. 1995. Life Among Pirates. The Romance and the Reality. London: Warner Books.Google Scholar
  19. De Oliveira, Gilberto Carvalho. 2013. “New Wars” at Sea: A Critical Transformative Approach to the Political Economy of Somali Piracy. Security Dialogue 44 (1): 3–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Doty, Roxanne Lynn. 1997. Aporia: A Critical Exploration of the Agent-Structure Problematique in International Relations Theory. European Journal of International Relations 3 (3): 365–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dutton, Yvonne M. 2011. Pirates and Impunity: Is the Threat of Asylum Claims a Reason to Allow Pirates to Escape Justice? Fordham International Law Journal 34: 236–295.Google Scholar
  22. Emirbayer, Mustafa, and Ann Mische. 1998. What is Agency? American Journal of Sociology 103 (4): 962.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fine, Marshall. 2010. Movie Review: The Expendables. Huffington Post, 9 August. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marshall-fine/movie-review-ithe-expenda_b_675465.html. Accessed 7 Jan 2014.
  24. Friman, Hakan, and Jens Lindborg. 2013. Initiating Criminal Proceedings with Military Force: Some Legal Aspects of Policing Somali Pirates by Navies. In Modern Piracy. Legal Challenges and Responses, ed. Douglas Guilfoyle, 172–201. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
  25. Geiss, Robin, and Anna Petrig. 2011. Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea: The Legal Framework for Counter-Piracy Operations in Somalia and the Gulf of Aden. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gettleman, Jeffrey. 2008. Q. & A. with a Pirate: “We Just Want the Money”. 30. September. http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/30/q-a-with-a-pirate-we-just-want-the-money/?ref=africa. Accessed 24 Aug 2012.
  27. Gherardi, Silvia. 2016. To Start Practice Theorizing Anew: The Contribution of the Concepts of Agencement and Formativeness. Organization 23 (5): 680–698.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Guilfoyle, Douglas (ed.). 2013. Modern Piracy: Legal Challenges and Responses. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  29. Hallwood, Paul, and Thomas J. Miceli. 2013a. An Examination of Some Problems with International Law Governing Maritime Piracy. Maritime Policy and Management 40 (1): 37–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hallwood, Paul, and Thomas J. Miceli. 2013b. An Economic Analysis of Maritime Piracy and Its Control. Scottish Journal of Political Economy 60 (4): 343–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hardie, Iain, and Donald McKenzie. 2007. Assembling an Economic Actor: The Agencement of a Hedge Fund. Sociological Review 55 (1): 57–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hastings, Justin V. 2009. Geographies of State Failure and Sophistication in Maritime Piracy Hijackings. Political Geography 28 (4): 213–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hay, Colin. 2009. King Canute and the ‘Problem’ of Structure and Agency: On Times, Tides and Heresthetics. Political Studies 57 (2): 260–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Heller-Roazen, Daniel. 2009. The Enemy of All: Piracy and the Law of Nations. New York: Zone Books.Google Scholar
  35. Jackson, Patrick Thaddeus, and Daniel H. Nexon. 1999. Relations Before States: Substance, Process and the Study of World Politics. European Journal of International Relations 5 (3): 291–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Jakob, Michal, Ondrej Vanek, Ondrej Hrstka, and Michal Pechoucek. 2012. Agents vs. Pirates: Multi-agent Simulation and Optimization to Fight Maritime Piracy. In 12th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems.Google Scholar
  37. Jess-Cooke, Carolyn. 2010. Sequelizing Spectatorship and Building Up the Kingdom: The Case of Pirates of the Caribbean, or, How a Theme Park Attraction Spawned a Multibillion-Dollar Film Franchise. In Second Takes. Critical Approaches to the Film Sequel, ed. Carolyn Jess-Cooke, and Constantine Verevis, 205–225. Princeton: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  38. Joas, Hans. (1996) Die Kreativität Des Handelns [The Creativity of Action]. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag.Google Scholar
  39. Kraska, James, and Raul Pedrezo. 2013. International Maritime Security Law. Leiden: Brill.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Land, Chris. 2007. Flying the Black Flag: Revolt, Revolution and the Social Organization of Piracy in the “Golden Age”. Management and Organizational History 2 (2): 169–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Law, John. 2004. After Method: Mess in Social Science Research. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Licoppe, Christian. 2010. The “Performative Turn” in Science and Technology Studies. Journal of Cultural Economy 3 (2): 181–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Manjikian, Mary. 2008. Diagnosis, Intervention, and Cure: The Illness Narrative in the Discourse of the Failed State. Alternatives: Global, Local, Political 33 (3): 335–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. McKnight, Terrence, and Michael Hirsh. 2012. Pirate Alley. Commanding Task Force 151 off Somalia. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.Google Scholar
  45. Mol, Annemarie. 2002. The Body Multiple: Ontology in Medical Practice. London: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Osiro, Deborah. 2011. Somali Pirates Have Rights Too. Judicial Consequences and Human Rights Concerns. Institute for Security Studies Working Paper, 224.Google Scholar
  47. Parker, Martin. 2012. Alternative Business. Outlaws, Crime and Culture. Milton Park: Routledge Press.Google Scholar
  48. Passoth, Jan-Hendrik, and Nicholas J. Rowland. 2010. Actor-Network State: Integrating Actor-Network Theory and State Theory. International Sociology 25 (6): 818–841.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Pattison, James. 2013. Justa Piratica: The Ethics of Piracy. Review of International Studies, online first, 29 October, 2013.  10.1017/S0260210513000405.
  50. Phillips, John. 2006. Agencement/Assemblage. Theory, Culture and Society 23 (2–3): 108–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Porter, Theodore M. 1994. Making Things Quantitative. Science in Context 7 (3): 389–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Reckwitz, Andreas. 2002. Toward a Theory of Social Practices: A Development in Culturalist Theorizing. European Journal of Social Theory 5 (2): 243–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Rediker, Marcus. 2004. Villains of All the Nations. Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  54. Rice, Zan, and Abdiqani Hassan. 2008. We Consider Ourselves Heroes—A Somali Pirate Speaks. Guardian, 22 November. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/22/piracy-somalia. Accessed 20 Aug 2012.
  55. Rubin, Alfred P. 1988. The Law of Piracy. Newport: Naval War College Press.Google Scholar
  56. Schindler, Sebastian. 2014. Man Versus State: Contested Agency in the United Nations. Millennium: Journal of International Studies 43 (1): 3–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Shabazz, Saeed. 2008. Somali Piracy Connected to Toxic Dumping, Illegal Fishing. Final Call, 20 November. http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/article_5415.shtml. Accessed 20 Aug 2012.
  58. Stockbruegger, Jan. 2013. Constructing Pirate Economies. Somali Pirates, Marine Insurance and the Politics of Transnational Ransom Industries. Leiden: Leiden University.Google Scholar
  59. Thomson, Janice E. 1994. Mercenaries, Pirates & Sovereigns, State-Building and Extraterritorial Violence in Early Modern Europe. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  60. Walker, R.B.J. 1991. Security, Sovereignty and the Challenge of World Politics. Alternatives: Global, Local, Political 15 (1): 3–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Wendt, Alexander E. 1987. The Agent-Structure Problem in International Relations Theory. International Organization 41 (3): 335–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. World Bank. 2013a. Ending Somali Piracy: Go After the System, Not Just the Pirates. http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2013/04/11/ending-somali-piracy-go-after-the-system-not-just-the-pirates. Accessed 23 April 2017.
  63. World Bank. 2013. The Pirates of Somalia: Ending the Threat, Rebuilding a Nation. Washington, DC: International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/World Bank.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Law and PoliticsCardiff UniversityCardiffUK
  2. 2.University of StellenboschStellenboschSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations