Performing piracy: a note on the multiplicity of agency

  • Christian BuegerEmail author
Original Article


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.


Agency Practice Pirates Multiplicity Methodology 



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).


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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

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